There are many different signs of a fentanyl overdose, and they are all the same as any other opiate or opioid. The only difference is that it takes much less fentanyl to overdose than it does heroin, morphine, or codeine to overdose.

The signs of fentanyl overdose include shallow breathing, loss of consciousness, slowing heartbeat, and eventually death if the patient is not given an opioid antagonist such as Narcan to reverse the effects of the fentanyl.

The Fentanyl Epidemic from a Personal Perspective

I was lucky enough to get clean and sober before fentanyl became the dominant opiate available for purchase across the US. I have done pharmaceutical fentanyl but not the cheap white powder that is being cooked in bulk by chemists in Mexico from precursor chemicals brought over from China.

The reality is that with this huge game changer, many more addicts are overdosing due to the incredibly high strength of the fentanyl as compared to the heroin they were used to originally. I believe that I would be dead, had I not gotten sober at thae time I did, as there is no doubt in my mind, I would have started doing the stronger, cheaper fentanyl.

Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opioid that has recently replaced heroin in many cities as the main opioid of abuse on the street. Due to the fact that fentanyl does not require harvesting opium from a poppy plant, it is much cheaper to produce, and it is also much stronger than heroin. Heroin is about five times stronger than morphine, while fentanyl is about 100 times stronger than morphine.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is not a novel opioid in the least bit as it was discovered back in 1959. However, people still ask ‘what is fentanyl’ because up until recently it was rare to find it anywhere other than at a hospital. It is used along with a drug called midazolam to put people under anesthesia for surgery.

Another way fentanyl has been used legitimately is for severe pain patients who have extremely high tolerances to other opiates. There are formulations of transdermal patches and sublingual lollipops both for use in cases of extreme pain. Unlike most opiates which are measured in milligrams, fentanyl is so strong that doses are measured in micrograms.

The Spread of Fentanyl on the Street

Nowadays, fentanyl has replaced heroin as the main opiate that is sold to addicts on the street. It has only been for about the last 5 years or so that heroin has basically been completely replaced by fentanyl.

Fentanyl has a much shorter half life than heroin or morphine as well, which means that an addict will have to use more often throughout the day to not be sick from withdrawing. The varying strength of the product they get, coupled with fact that it must be re used frequently, make it a much more likely overdose situation than heroin ever was. People have noticed that things are different on the streets of our inner cities, and fentanyl is most likely to blame for this.

Record Overdoses in America and the Role of Fentanyl

There have been record overdoses in America, and the role of fentanyl in all of this is a hefty one. According to the DEA’s website, “Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids (primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl) rose 55.6 percent and appear to be the primary driver of the increase in total drug overdose deaths.” This study compared the 12 months ending January 31, 2020 and the 12 months ending January 31, 2021.

Most experts are quick to point out that something has to be the driving force of record overdoses in America and the role of fentanyl seems to be the glaringly obvious truth of the fact.

One Pill Can Kill

As the DEA site states plainly, one pill can kill. One of the main ways fentanyl finds its way into the country is as counterfeit oxycodone pills. All of these pills may look extremely similar, even identical to one another, but while some may be real, others are fake and have an unknown amount of fentanyl and maybe other chemicals.

One study found that a few thousand pills that were confiscated by law enforcement had fentanyl and methamphetamine in them. All it takes is one milligram of fentanyl to kill someone, and there is no way to know how much these chemists are putting in these fake oxycodone pills.

One pill can kill, as it may have significantly more fentanyl in it than the last one from the same batch. There are what are called ‘hot spots’ in fake pills when they sometimes have more fentanyl than the others. These unassuming little pills are killing people left and right, and its extremely scary that people are playing Russian roulette with them every day.

If you or a loved one is hooked on opiates today, I plead with you to call Divine Detox or a facility like it. Talk to their admissions department and see what you can do to get help.

The Prevalence of Counterfeit Drugs with Fentanyl

A huge issue with almost all drugs bought on the streets these days is the prevalence of counterfeit drugs with fentanyl in them. Fentanyl has been found in fake opiate pills such as oxycontin, it has been found in methamphetamines, it has been found in counterfeit Xanax, and they will literally put it in anything to make that substance more addictive.

Fake pills are the most prevalent counterfeit drugs with fentanyl, but they are literally putting it in anything nowadays, even in marijuana.

With the way things are heading, things are only going to continue to get worse. The only pragmatic solutions to these problems are harm reduction and legalization. People are always going to do drugs, and now, anything bought on the black market may have fentanyl in it.

It has never been a more dangerous time to be a person with a substance use disorder. Again, the only reasonable thing to do at the moment if you are struggling with an addiction to opiates is seek help. There are too many uncontrollable variables with fentanyl, and going to detox is literally the difference between life and death.

How Can I Tell if Someone is on Fentanyl?

Many people wonder, ‘how can I tell if someone is on fentanyl?’ The answer is that it really should be quite apparent. If someone does not do it very often, they are going to be falling asleep randomly, or nodding out. If they have a tolerance and have been using for some time then other signs should be prevalent such as criminal or sneaky behavior, small pupils even in dark rooms, or a general change in the way they act and behave.

Another huge giveaway is if the person suddenly starts losing a lot of weight, or is constantly itching their face. All of these are huge giveaways that answer the question, ‘how can I tell if someone is on fentanyl?’

Listen to Your Heart and Confront with Compassion

The bottom line is that hiding a drug addiction to strong opiates is not an easy thing to do. There will be blatantly obvious signs that may be chalked up to something else at first thanks to denial, but at some point, it will be impossible to ignore.

I think the most important thing when confronting someone is to be as understanding as possible and not push the person into feeling shameful. I feel like there was always a part of me that wanted to be clean and sober, and when approached with love and understanding I never refused going to treatment.

If you believe someone you love is abusing fentanyl, I suggest calling Divine Detox to get more information about how to perform some sort of intervention. They will be able to guide you much better than I can through this blog.

Identifying Signs of a Fentanyl Overdose

Like with opioid overdoses, identifying signs of a fentanyl overdose are relatively easy to identify. A person suffering a fentanyl overdose may die if they are not treated promptly and properly with Narcan, an opioid antagonist.

Identifying signs of a fentanyl overdose would include seeing if the person has lost consciousness, checking if their breathing has shallowed, and checking if their heart rate has slowed. If a person has become unresponsive, and there are signs of a fentanyl overdose, then something must be done in order to save that person’s life.

The line between how much a fentanyl addict has to use to get high and how much it would take for them to overdose is extraordinarily thin. This is why so many opioid addicts accidentally overdose every day. This line becomes smaller the stronger the opioid is, so with fentanyl, the line is the smallest it has ever been. Identifying signs of a fentanyl overdose are crucial for saving a person’s life by determining when the right time is to administer Narcan.

Fentanyl Overdose Signs

What is Narcan and Administering Naloxone

Now you may be asking yourself, ‘what is Narcan and administering naloxone?’ Narcan is the brand name of naloxone, an opioid antagonist that works by forcing all of the opioid off of the receptors of a person’s brain. This immediately begins reversing the effects of the fentanyl overdose, and a person should start to regain consciousness within minutes.

Narcan is administered either as a nasal spray or in an intramuscular formulation that is injected. Either way, Narcan begins working very fast to begin bringing a person out of an overdose.

One of the side effects of naloxone is that the person will immediately begin to go into withdrawals because the opioid is no longer working in their brain. There have actually been many cases of addicts who get extremely agitated at people trying to save their lives because now they are in withdrawals and feel the need to get more fentanyl.

If a person has gotten to the point where they are angry about receiving Narcan, then it is beyond time for them to attempt to get treatment. Call Divine Detox’s admissions department and they can guide you into doing an intervention. If you or a loved one is to the point that they are overdosing, it is imperative they get help immediately, because the only other place to go is to the grave.

Steps to Take During a Fentanyl Overdose

There are precise steps to take during a fentanyl overdose. According to SAMHSA’s list of Five Essential Steps for First Responders, the steps include identify signs of an overdose, call 911, administer naloxone, support the person’s breathing, and monitor the person’s response. These steps to take during a fentanyl overdose are relatively plain, and easy to follow. T

he fact that they hand out Narcan at many pharmacies also increases the chances that someone around may happen to have the life saving medicine should someone in fact overdose in the area.

Following the Steps to Become a Life Saver

Although this time is absolutely going to be extremely stressful and uncomfortable for everyone involved, the steps to take during a fentanyl overdose are easy to follow and as long as you keep a cool head about you, there is a good chance the person will be just fine.

Follow the five steps, then let the professionals take over once emergency services arrive. Narcan has saved countless lives, and has now revolutionized the life saving capabilities of the average citizen in regards to an overdose.

Addiction Treatment Following an Overdose

Addiction treatment following an overdose can be an important time as a person can use the trauma of the overdose as motivation to make the needed changes for a life in recovery. Keeping up momentum from the overdose can be an important factor when convincing a person to go to treatment. With the overdose fresh on their mind, a person is much more likely to find the needed motivation to begin their journey in recovery.

The first time a person overdoses, it can be an extremely eye opening and jarring experience. However, if a person gets to the point that they have overdosed numerous times, it is less likely to have the same effect anymore.

That is why it is so important to use the first time a person overdoses as motivation to make changes. Addiction treatment following an overdose is a wonderful time for treatment. Rock bottom is wherever a person stops digging, and the overdose can absolutely be that time.

Long Term Recovery from Fentanyl is Possible

One thing has been proven time and time again, and that is that long-term recovery from fentanyl is possible. There are hundreds of thousands of active members in Narcotics Anonymous, many of whom are now recovering from an addiction to fentanyl. The first step is undoubtedly detox, as getting all of the opiates out of one’s body can be a grueling process.

Call Divine Detox today, find out about their detox program and the following inpatient treatment afterwards. Recovery is a matter of life and death.

No matter what position you or a loved one is in, I guarantee there is hope, and long-term recovery from fentanyl is possible. I have seen it with my own eyes, and continue to watch as thousands of men and women who previously could not go hours without fentanyl have now been sober for a year or more.

They all do it one day at a time, and if you or a loved one needs help, I would recommend Divine Detox. Call them today to get an idea for the next indicated step, and begin a life in recovery away from the poison that is fentanyl.

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