Fentanyl use has been described as an epidemic in the United States. 70 percent of overdose deaths in 2019 involved fentanyl. New Hampshire is not immune to the effects of this substance, with 91 percent of overdoses occurring in our state involve fentanyl. Fentanyl may be having massive effects on our state and country, but recovery can be achieved with the right support.
Why is Fentanyl Prescribed For?
Fentanyl is a useful medication for individuals who have severe chronic pain, or who are recovering from surgery. Fentanyl is typically used for short periods to get a person through a difficult time of healing, or by individuals who are terminal and are in constant, severe pain. Fentanyl is part of a group of substances known as opioids. Other opioids are morphine and heroin. Fentanyl is an extremely powerful opioid;100 times more powerful than morphine.
What Are Some Side Effects of Fentanyl?
Long-term Effects of Fentanyl Use
If a person uses fentanyl over a long period of time, they are likely to experience some adverse effects. These effects include:
- Reduced libido
- Menstrual problems
- Respiratory problems
- Unstable mood
Short-term Effects of Fentanyl Use
There are also effects that present themselves in the short term. It is common to feel these effects shortly after a person starts fentanyl use. These effects include:
- Reduced appetite
- Pain relief
- Low blood pressure
- Difficulty speaking
Common Side Effects of Fentanyl
Several factors influence what fentanyl side effects occur when a person uses fentanyl. These factors include a person’s overall health and weight. Other factors are the amount of fentanyl used, the length of time a person has been using fentanyl, and the use of other substances while taking fentanyl. Some of the most common fentanyl side effects are:
- Blue lips, fingernails, and skin
- Irregular heartbeat
- Muscle stiffness
Rare Side Effects of Fentanyl
Other fentanyl effects that occur less frequently include:
- Burning sensation
- Redness of skin
How Does Fentanyl Affect the Brain?
Opioids such as fentanyl work by binding to a person’s opioid receptors. Opioid receptors are located in a person’s brain. These receptors control pain and emotion. Using fentanyl gives a person reduced pain and euphoric feelings. Over time, fentanyl use causes a person to develop a tolerance, meaning they will need to use more fentanyl to feel their desired effect. The increased dose from tolerance causes severe consequences such as overdose. Extended fentanyl use can cause a person to develop opioid use disorder, a condition where a person can not easily end opioid use. Individuals who develop opioid use disorder will prioritize opioid use over other aspects of their lives.
Fentanyl hallucinations are a possible effect of fentanyl use. These hallucinations are reported by around 6 percent of prescription fentanyl users. Some theorize this number to be higher due to the stigma associated with admitting to hallucinations. No statistics are available for hallucinations caused by illicit fentanyl use due to the infrequency of this symptom being reported.
The Danger of Potential Fentanyl Overdose
As previously mentioned, fentanyl use was involved in 70 percent of overdoses in 2019. Typically, when fentanyl causes an overdose death, it is because a person’s respiration decreases and they do not get enough oxygen. Fentanyl deaths are high because the substance is mixed with other substances to create a low-cost mixture with a powerful euphoric effect. This increases profits for those who sell illicit substances. Individuals who use substances can test for the presence of fentanyl by using test strips. These strips reveal the presence of fentanyl so a person can be informed about what they are using.
Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction
As scary as the fentanyl epidemic is, recovery from fentanyl use is possible. If you or your loved one is in need of treatment for fentanyl use, you do not have to do it alone. The professionals at Addiction Recovery Services are here to help! At Addiction Recovery Services our staff will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan. For more information on how Addiction Recovery Services can help you find recovery, contact us today at 978-228-5853.
FAQs About the Side Effects of Fentanyl
Why is this medication prescribed?
Fentanyl is a powerful pain medication. It can be beneficial for individuals with chronic pain or those recovering from surgery.
How does fentanyl affect the body?
Fentanyl bonds with a person’s opioid receptors. This is a part of the brain that controls pain and mood. Fentanyl reduces pain and produces euphoric effects.
How do I cope with the side effects of fentanyl?
Naloxone is a medication that can reverse the side effects of fentanyl. It is available in many New Hampshire pharmacies.