What Is Fentanyl and Why Is It So Dangerous?

Understanding the Dangers of Fentanyl

Most people don’t recognize the dangers of fentanyl until it’s too late. Fentanyl is a powerful prescription opioid painkiller that has a high potential for abuse. It’s also highly addictive and has the risk of accidental overdose even with small doses.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid medication commonly used to treat chronic or severe pain, particularly in people who have already developed a tolerance to other opioid painkiller medications. It’s common for people living with late-stage cancer to be prescribed fentanyl to help them manage ongoing severe pain symptoms.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today at 877.969.1993 to learn how we can help. 

Why Is Fentanyl So Dangerous?

It’s estimated that fentanyl can be between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine and up to 50 times more powerful than heroin. When used under careful medical supervision, it can be valuable to treat chronic pain. However, when fentanyl is abused or used in any way other than the doctor prescribed, the risk of developing tolerance and addiction is dramatically increased.

As fentanyl is so much more potent than most other opioid drugs, the risk of accidental overdose also increases. Due to its high potency, fentanyl can be lethal even in relatively small doses.

Some people who take fentanyl may be unaware of what they’re taking. People who deal with illicit street drugs like heroin may ‘cut’ their supply with other substances to increase profits. Some dealers may add fentanyl to their heroin stocks deliberately to improve their customers’ likelihood of becoming addicted. The increase in the number of overdose deaths involving fentanyl rose significantly in the past 10 years.

Of course, others may have already developed a tolerance to other types of opioid drugs, including prescription painkiller medications or heroin. These people may be taking fentanyl for the increased potency, which further increases the risk of accidental overdose.

Signs of Fentanyl Overdose

Due to the potency of fentanyl, any use of the drug for recreational purposes can drastically increase the risk of a fatal overdose. Initial signs of a fentanyl overdose include:

  • Slowed respiratory function
  • Slow, shallow breathing or stopped completely
  • Inability to walk and loss of physical coordination
  • Extreme sleepiness and fatigue
  • Drifting in and out of consciousness, also known as ‘on the nod’
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Fingernails and lips turn blue or purple
  • Choking or gurgling when trying to breathe
  • Slow or erratic pulse, or no pulse at all
  • Coma

If someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms after taking any opioid drug, call for emergency medical assistance immediately.

Signs of Fentanyl Addiction

Some common signs of fentanyl addiction can include:

  • Taking fentanyl or other opioid drugs in ways not prescribed by a doctor
  • Excessive mood swings
  • Unsuccessful attempts to stop or reduce usage
  • Taking higher doses than were prescribed to achieve the same effects they used to with smaller doses
  • Using fentanyl prescribed to another person
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Intense cravings to take more fentanyl
  • Visiting different doctors to obtain more prescriptions
  • Taking opioid painkiller medications even when not in pain
  • Becoming isolated and withdrawing from activities that used to provide enjoyment
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when usage stops
  • Continuing to take fentanyl to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms

Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction and Other Opioids at WhiteSands

If you suspect that you or someone you know is developing an addiction to fentanyl use, call the addiction treatment specialists at WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today. We’re here to help you safely recover from opioid addiction using the best possible treatments and therapies available.

Once you’re ready to regain control over your life and begin your healthy recovery from fentanyl addiction, assistance is available at WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today. Our experienced team of addiction treatment specialists will work with you to tailor the right combination of treatments and therapies designed to meet your individual recovery needs at any of our Florida locations.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

Jackie has been involved in the substance abuse and addiction treatment sector for over five years and this is something that she is truly eager about. She has a passion for writing and continuously works to create informative pieces that not only educate and inform the public about the disease of addiction but also provide solutions for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.