Signs of Fentanyl Addiction to Look Out For


Fentanyl addiction is a significant public health issue in the United States, and its consequences can be devastating for users, loved ones, and communities.

This article explains what fentanyl addiction is, how it occurs, and then details certain warning signs to look for, that may indicate when someone is struggling.

Recognizing fentanyl addiction is a crucial first step towards seeking professional help and treatment and ultimately achieving a complete recovery.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that is highly addictive and dangerous.

Opioid addiction has become a significant public health, economic, and national security issue, and the U.S. is currently experiencing its worst drug crisis in history.

Each day, over 150 people die from overdoses involving synthetic opioids. Fentanyl is a leading killer.

There are two types of fentanyl; pharmaceutical fentanyl and illicitly manufactured fentanyl.

Pharmaceutical fentanyl is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is prescribed to treat severe pain.

On the other hand, illegally manufactured fentanyl is produced, distributed, and used illegally due to its heroin-like effects and for the feelings of euphoria it produces.

Illicit fentanyl is incredibly dangerous, as it is produced without the quality controls of pharmaceutical-grade fentanyl.

The drug is sold in many different forms and can be injected, snorted, smoked, or taken orally via pill or tablet.

Fentanyl is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine, and 50 times more potent than heroin.

Due to this potency, it is often mixed with other drugs which makes them cheaper, more powerful, and far more dangerous.

Fentanyl Addiction

Recreational users may begin using fentanyl to experience intense feelings of pleasure, to cope with difficult emotions such as anxiety and depression, or due to curiosity and/or social pressure.

Commonly, fentanyl addicts start out by using mild opioids and then move on to fentanyl as their opioid tolerance builds as they struggle to feel the same ‘buzz’.

The extreme potency of fentanyl is also what makes it so addictive.

When individuals stop using fentanyl after an extended period, they will experience severe withdrawal symptoms.

These can be extremely uncomfortable and debilitating and are the reason many individuals find it so difficult to maintain sobriety from the drug.

Fentanyl addiction and fentanyl-related deaths affect a diverse array of individuals and communities, regardless of race, gender, or age demographics.

Addiction can happen to anyone, and the consequences of fentanyl can be devastating.

However, with the right tools and support, fentanyl addicts can reclaim control of their lives and resume a renewed healthy and positive way of living.

The Signs of a Fentanyl Addiction

Recognizing the signs of a fentanyl addiction in yourself or a loved one is important, as it allows you to identify the problem, and take steps to address it.

This article outlines certain behavioral, physical, and psychological signs that may indicate someone has a problem with fentanyl addiction. Early intervention and treatment can save lives.

Behavioral Signs of Fentanyl Addiction

  • Frequent and compulsive drug-seeking: Individuals who are addicted to fentanyl may spend significant time and energy seeking out the drug. Their lives may begin to revolve around this, which can lead them to neglect basic human needs such as adequate nutrition or hygiene.
  • Neglect of responsibilities at work, school, or home: Similarly, fentanyl addicts may neglect responsibilities as their focus shifts toward the drug. They may skip school or work, neglect childcare responsibilities, or abandon hobbies or activities they once enjoyed, such as sports.
  • Social isolation and withdrawal from friends and family: Many addicts withdraw from their loved ones, due to feelings of disconnection or because they begin to prefer the company of other addicts. Addicts may also become increasingly secretive about their activities in an attempt to hide their substance use, which can impact relationships and contribute to social isolation and withdrawal.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors to obtain fentanyl: Addicts may engage in risky behaviors in order to obtain fentanyl, such as violence, theft, or driving under the influence.
  • Failed attempts to cut down or control use: Addicts may find it extremely difficult to control their use of fentanyl, despite wanting to cut down or stop using altogether. Physical dependence and psychological addiction can make it very difficult to go without the drug, and addicts may continue to use the drug despite its adverse effects on physical health and mental well-being.

Physical Signs of Fentanyl Addiction

  • Drowsiness and sedation: Fentanyl can cause extreme drowsiness and sedation. Addicts may struggle to stay awake when they’re not ‘high’ and will commonly fall asleep or lose consciousness at inappropriate times, without control.
  • Slurred speech: Fentanyl can cause individuals’ speech to slur. Fentanyl users may speak very slowly, with a mumbled voice, or may struggle to string sentences together.
  • Constricted pupils: Fentanyl users may have unusually small pupils, even in dim lighting. This differs from the use of other drugs which causes pupils to become dilated and large.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Fentanyl distresses the gastrointestinal and digestive system, which may lead to nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Respiratory depression or shallow breathing: Like other opioids, fentanyl can cause respiratory depression. Respiratory depression occurs when an individual’s breathing becomes very slow and shallow, which increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the body to dangerous levels. Respiratory depression can be life-threatening.
  • Track marks or infections at injection sites (if using intravenously): If individuals are using Fentanyl intravenously (i.e. injecting the drug), they may have visible track marks or infections at the site of injection.

Psychological Signs of Fentanyl Addiction

  • Intense euphoria followed by sedation: As with other opioids, fentanyl can cause feelings of intense euphoria. This ‘high’ is later followed by extreme drowsiness and sedation.
  • Confusion or disorientation: Addicts may experience confusion, disorientation, slowed reflexes, and a lack of coordination, especially when under the influence.
  • Cognitive impairment: Fentanyl can impair cognitive and memory function. Addicts may struggle to recount short or long-term memories and may have trouble concentrating or focusing.
  • Mood swings: Fentanyl users often experience intense mood swings and may rapidly change from feeling extremely euphoric to extremely irritable or depressed.
  • Anxiety or depression: Addiction can exacerbate existing mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, or cause them to develop over time.
  • Change in sleeping patterns: Fentanyl users may experience significant changes in their sleeping patterns. Commonly, some users will fall asleep during the day due to the sedative effects of the drugs, while others may have trouble sleeping at all.

The Importance Of Getting Treatment For Fentanyl Addiction

If you or someone you know is displaying the aforementioned warning signs of fentanyl addiction, it’s crucial to seek professional help as soon as possible.

Early intervention can allow drug addicts to access proper support and treatment, which can help them overcome addiction, maintain sobriety, and take back control of their lives.

There are multiple opioid addiction treatment programs available, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

As such, it’s important to explore all options and find what works best for you (or your loved one).

Opioid addiction treatment typically includes a combination of medically assisted detoxification, behavioral therapy, psychosocial support, and prescribed medication regimes to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Professional treatment centers provide individuals with valuable knowledge and resources to help them achieve long-term sobriety.

Getting help for fentanyl addiction can be a difficult yet life-changing decision.

To learn about treatment options, get in touch with your GP or other medical professional, or reach out to an addiction treatment facility (a quick Google search can be a great starting point for the latter).

Wrapping Up

Fentanyl addiction is an extremely serious condition that can drastically impair an addict’s functionality, quality of life, and relationships.

Fentanyl use can be fatal. Therefore, obtaining professional help for yourself or a loved one is crucial and can change (or even save) lives.

With the correct approach and proper support, individuals can break free from their addiction and reclaim control of their lives, leading to a renewed, positive, and healthy way of living.

Being aware of the warning signs of fentanyl addiction is an important first step.

If someone is displaying signs of potential addiction, be proactive, address the problem, and seek help sooner rather than later.


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