How Dangerous is Fentanyl?
One of the most potent illegal drugs being abused by many people today is the drug fentanyl. It is a highly-addictive opioid that is more potent than heroin or morphine. There is a big risk of overdosing from fentanyl which is why it is considered to be very dangerous. Long-term health problems, as well as complications that could lead to infections, are also among the consequences that fentanyl addiction can lead to. But how dangerous is fentanyl? Can you still reverse its effects?
By description, Fentanyl is an opioid drug that is a synthetic substance that is based on the natural compound of morphine. It is used as a prescribed opioid for patients to help manage pain and is usually given to those who have moderate or chronic pain. It is also a very potent drug and is 100 times more potent compared to morphine. It is usually given to manage severe pain for patients in need of pain management.
Fentanyl is usually abused because of its euphoric effect. The person taking this drug usually feels relaxed and if repeatedly taken, fentanyl can lead to addiction. Addiction to fentanyl is often characterized by the overuse of the drug. It can also cause tolerance to the user so there is a need to take in more to produce the same effect over time.
When fentanyl enters the body, it crosses the blood-brain barriers and binds with the opioid receptors. This will result in a numbing and euphoric effect. The quicker the binding process is, the more euphoria one feels. This makes fentanyl a powerful drug compared to heroin and morphine. Even a small dose of fentanyl can cause these euphoric sensations. On the other hand, fentanyl can also result in physical reactions since the experience is intense. Usual side effects of this drug are mostly unpleasant since it can cause one to:
- Respiratory impairment or respiratory arrest
Due to its analgesic effect, opioids can impair the lungs and cause it to stop performing. That is why even a small dose of fentanyl can be fatal to a person and can cause the lungs to stop functioning. Over time and repeated use of this drug, the brain’s natural release of endorphins slows down in order to compensate. Short-term use can cause a number of side effects however, these are not dangerous. The only problem is that it can be uncomfortable and can cause distress as well as other health problems. These include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Difficulty in urination
- Loss of concentration or impaired memory
- Stomach pain or gas
- Blurred vision
- GI bleeding
- Back and chest pain
- Swelling of the arms, legs, and feet
- Shaking or tremors
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Weight loss
- Disturb thinking or nightmares
Overdosing on Fentanyl
Opioid drugs can cause overdose and fentanyl is no exception. In fact, it is one opioid that has proven to be fatal. Since opioids suppress the central nervous system, it causes the brain and spinal cord to slow down. When this happens, the heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure also slows down until the person eventually stops breathing. If this condition is not reversed, it can lead to fatal results. It has been reported that fentanyl has more risk of overdose compared to other opioids because of its elevated potency. In 2016 alone, fentanyl-related deaths in the United States increased 540% within the three-year period. Here are the most common signs of fentanyl overdose:
- Shallow breathing
- Decreased breathing or difficulty in breathing normally
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Extreme drowsiness
Overdosing on fentanyl is considered a medical emergency. If not treated right away can lead to death. This is why the immediate reversal of its effects must be done in order to save someone’s life.
Dangers of Combining with Other Drugs
There are plenty of cases where fentanyl is combined with other drugs. Most of the time, drug addicts will combine this with cocaine or other opioids to obtain the desired effects at an intense rate. Combining this drug with other depressants, alcohol, and opioids is especially dangerous since it can cause severe depression on the respiratory system. If the person is not aware of the dangers, they might use a combination of drugs with quantities large enough to cause an overdose. They might not realize its fatal effects until it is too late.
Long Term Effects of Fentanyl
Besides overdosing from fentanyl, the long-term use of this drug can also cause severe complications in all areas of a person’s well-being. Health problems due to repeated and heavy use of fentanyl can also damage the major organs of the body. The lungs and heart are often the most common parts of the body that is affected by long-term fentanyl abuse. Slowed breathing puts makes the users at risk for sleep apnea and even to stop breathing while sleeping.
Infectious diseases are also very common for people with drug addiction. This is due to shared needles among users. The risk of getting HIV, Hepatitis B and C are also very common among drug addicts. Not only that, collapsed veins, as well as bacterial infections, are also experienced by long-term users of fentanyl. This can lead to damaged organs like liver and kidneys too.
Besides damaged organs, mental illness can also develop. The most common forms are depression and anxiety disorders. Any underlying mental illness can also be triggered by the use of fentanyl. Not only that, but fentanyl addicts can also cause a strain on their personal relationships as well as other people. This condition could eventually lead to:
- Broken relationships
- Legal and financial troubles
- Jail time
- Physical harm due to risky behaviors
- Sexually transmitted disease
- Isolation from friends and family
- Inability to perform well in school or work
After learning all the risks and complications involved in Fentanyl addiction, we can truly say that this is a dangerous drug. In fact, all opioids are dangerous. That being said, it is important to take it only when prescribed or as prescribed by the physician. If you or anyone you know is addicted to fentanyl, getting immediate help can reverse the effects of the drug. Not only are you saving your life but you can also help save others.