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Dr William Shanahan 360x246

Blog reviewed by Dr William Shanahan, Medical Director (Private) and Clinical Director of Addictions (BAO, BCh, DCH, D'OBS, FRCPsych, MB), Priory Hospital Roehampton  

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever that is similar to other drugs like heroin and morphine, although fentanyl is a lot more powerful and potent.

It is typically prescribed for the treatment of acute and chronic pain, such as surgery recovery and cancer treatment. It can also be given to patients who are already taking high doses of morphine or oxycodone but are still experiencing pain.

Fentanyl can be abused for its euphoric and relaxing side effects. However, it is an extremely dangerous drug as a result of its power and potency, and abuse can quickly turn into addiction.

Signs and symptoms of fentanyl addiction

If you are abusing fentanyl or are worried about someone you care about, there are common signs and symptoms that can indicate addiction. These include the following:

  • A desire to stop or cut down on fentanyl, but being unable to do so
  • Time, money and effort is spent getting, abusing and recovering from fentanyl
  • Urges or cravings for fentanyl
  • Being unable to meet obligations at work, school or the home
  • Becoming isolated and withdrawn from participation in activities with friends and family
  • Putting themselves and others at risk when using or acquiring the drug
  • Continuing to use the drug despite its psychological and physical effects
  • Withdrawal symptoms occurring when fentanyl use stops or decreases

The following physical and psychological signs may also be present:

  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Dizziness, shaking and fainting
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Trouble breathing or slowed breathing
  • Hallucinations, paranoia and delusions
  • Itching and scratching
  • Mood swings
  • Sleeping all day
  • Experiencing weight gain

The dangers of fentanyl

When fentanyl is abused, it can be extremely dangerous and lead to overdoses. The potency of the drug can result in people becoming addicted to the drug easily. As their tolerance increases, more and more of the drug is needed to fight off withdrawal symptoms, which can be highly dangerous. Larger doses can see the respiratory system depress to the point of failure.

When combined with other drugs such as heroin, morphine or methadone, the risk of death increases. Dr Declan Leahy at Priory Hospital Chelmsford has commented: The use of illegally produced fentanyl is thought to add to the concern about increasing opioid deaths from unintended overdose."

He also stated that there are dangers of addiction when Fentanyl is prescribed: "Some patients presenting with addiction started when medication was prescribed for pain. They find themselves unable to stop taking it once the pain was resolved. The risks are similar to other opioid drugs but occur with much smaller doses."

Treatment for recovery at Priory

If you or someone you care about is looking for a life away from fentanyl abuse, Priory can provide the care and support needed to recover. We create personalised treatment programmes so that people can get the treatment that will be the most effective for them.

If drug detoxification is needed, our specialist team will be able to provide round the clock care to make sure the process is as safe and comfortable as possible.

Inpatient rehabilitation may also be recommended, where therapies can help to address the root of the addiction. During this time, a person can also learn coping strategies for life outside of drug addiction. There is also outpatient therapy available, which is flexible around work and personal commitments.

Get in Touch Today

For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding addiction treatment and rehabilitation, please call 0330 056 6023 or click here to book a FREE ADDICTION ASSESSMENT. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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