Over the last decade, fentanyl has featured heavily in media reports on drug abuse and drug-related crime. This drug is credited with erasing the decline in opioid overdoses that occurred circa 2013 and driving overdoses to new heights. With pandemic stress, fentanyl abuse and fentanyl-related deaths have reached all-time peaks. However, many people still aren’t clear on exactly what fentanyl’s side effects are, what this drug is, and why it’s so deadly.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a powerful opioid drug that doctors use as a last resort for around-the-clock pain management in extreme cases. When painkillers such as morphine fail to alleviate the pain of situations such as cancer treatments or surgery, that is when a person receives a fentanyl prescription. It acts similarly to morphine and heroin by binding to and stimulating the brain’s reward system, dulling pain and producing other effects. However, fentanyl is up to 100x more powerful than other opioids.
When illegal synthetic fentanyl hit the streets, this potency made it into a public health disaster. It’s extremely addictive, not to mention that it only takes a very small amount to experience a fatal overdose. Drug dealers have also laced other drugs such as marijuana with fentanyl with the aim of taking people who don’t know what they’re getting into and fostering dependency and addiction.
Even when someone uses prescribed fentanyl properly and responsibly, it’s possible to develop dependency. This risk grows greatly with an abusive pattern of consumption, wherein a person uses much more of the drug than a doctor would prescribe. In this case, they wish to experience feelings of euphoria and pleasure, but the fatigue and exhaustion that follow are deeply unpleasant. Furthermore, long-term adverse health effects and addiction are extremely severe side effects.
Side Effects of Abusing Fentanyl
Fentanyl abuse carries numerous side effects, such as an increased risk of bone fractures in older citizens. It can also disrupt the function of your gastrointestinal system, with frequent constipation and serious bowel blockages being potential outcomes. Trouble maintaining automatic bodily functions such as breathing during sleep and accompanying fatigue can also result. Unfortunately, the ill effects of using fentanyl often drive people to use the drug more as a source of relief. This frequently leads to an addictive spiral.
Prolonged fentanyl abuse results in the drug essentially short-circuiting your natural reward system, making it near impossible to experience pleasure when the drug is absent. This is the root of the antisocial, destructive behavior that people often ascribe to those who suffer from addiction. One consequence of fentanyl addiction is that you simply aren’t yourself, and you won’t be until you undergo an agonizing process of withdrawals.
Fentanyl withdrawals can set in in a matter of hours after your last hit and last for more than a week. Unmanaged fentanyl withdrawals force your body to experience the full force of the damage the drug has done to your body as it begins restoring normal function. Fentanyl side effects from withdrawals such as fatigue, weakness, cramps, and chills make the period difficult to face.
However, combining the poor presence of mind these effects bring with other symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea can make withdrawals fatal. Dehydration, excess salt concentration in the blood and other withdrawal-related complications are serious dangers if you don’t have proper medical supervision. Furthermore, the desperation and irrationality of withdrawals make people more likely to resort to sharing needles or taking a fatal overdose of fentanyl.
This is why it’s so important to seek help. A medical detox program can evade all of these risk factors by providing physical security, psychological counseling, and medical treatments to reduce the shock of withdrawals. Getting the right start on your recovery with the help of compassionate, driven professionals who want to help people like you get better makes all the difference.
Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
At America’s Rehab Campuses, treating fentanyl abuse and other opioid addictions is among our top priorities. If you have questions or need help, you can reach us via our fentanyl addiction hotline.