12 Signs of Fentanyl Overdose


Considering the high potency (50-100 times more potent than morphine) of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, it makes it also prone to tolerance and overdose. With that, you need to strictly obey your prescription since overdosing with this prescription drug can lead to respiratory failure and death.

In this read, we are going to tackle fentanyl overdose, its symptoms, and how it can be treated or prevented. Enjoy reading and learn more about it.

Fentanyl Is A Schedule II Controlled Substance

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) identifies this synthetic opioid as a schedule II controlled substance because of its high risk of being abused. A person can readily gain tolerance when taking this drug in large doses. Eventually, the person will gain dependence, and later an addiction if intervention and treatment are not done.

How Serious is Fentanyl Overdose in the U.S?

Here is some collected statistical information regarding the cases of overdosing on this medicine and the number of related deaths associated with it.

  • Fentanyl OverdoseThere are around 31,000 death counts related to a fentanyl overdose in 2018.
  • A 10% increase in the incidence of overdose with this drug from 2017 to 2018.
  • Around 59% of the death counts from opioid overdose was found using fentanyl. This rate is higher than in 2010 (14.3%).
  • Most of the overdoses were done by people who also used this drug in the previous year.

If you find yourself or your loved one addicted to this medication, then seek help as early as possible. Getting early treatment is best because of the severe consequences of abusing this synthetic opioid.

12 Evident Signs of Fentanyl Overdose

For the addict, it is challenging for him to determine his dependence or addiction towards the synthetic opioid, so intervention is needed to facilitate self-awareness. Likewise, here are some common signs when a person is overdosing on this prescription drug.

  • Depressed blood pressure
  • Coma
  • Nausea
  • Constricted pupils
  • Cold sweaty skin
  • Feeling drowsy
  • Lips and fingernails are turning blue
  • Depressed breathing patterns
  • Low pulse rate
  • Unconsciousness
  • Weak body and muscles
  • Dizziness

Among these signs, the three most prominent ones are constricted pupils, depressed breathing, and loss of consciousness.

Fentanyl and the Brain

Signs of Fentanyl OverdoseAfter you orally ingest or apply a patch of this drug to your skin, it will dissolve in your blood and go into your brain, where it attaches to your opioid receptors. These receptors are responsible for you to feel pain and other feelings.

Once this substance attaches to your opioid receptors, it inhibits you from feeling any pain or sensation, aside from the drug itself. Typically, the pain-relieving effect lasts around 30 to 90 minutes but can vary depending on the dose taken.

Also, here are some evident effects of using this prescribed drug:

  • Inability to focus
  • Feeling sleepy or dizzy
  • Euphoric sensation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Slowed breathing
  • Gradually losing consciousness

Is Fentanyl Addictive?

With the high potency of this synthetic opioid, it is unquestionably addictive, especially when you medicate on a larger dosage. When you are taking this drug on a high dose, you can quickly feel its withdrawal symptoms within 12 hours after your last intake.

Here are some of the typical withdrawal effects from slow or abrupt cessation from taking this drug:

  • General painful sensation in your body
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Goosebumps
  • Cold and sweaty skin
  • Lower pulse rate
  • Uncontrolled craving for the drug

Fentanyl and Other Illicit Substances

One main reason why you can get an overdose or an addiction with this prescription medicine is when you use it together with other substances such as alcohol, heroin, meth, and cocaine. With that, it strengthens the euphoric sensation you are feeling, which creates a craving inside you.

10 Common Side Effects of Fentanyl Usage

Despite its medicinal benefits, it is accompanied by minor side effects which can amplify as you use more for a longer duration. Here are the evident side effects of medicating with this synthetic opioid.

  1. Feeling weak
  2. Sleepiness
  3. Pupils shrinks
  4. Depressed heartbeat
  5. Nausea
  6. Sweating
  7. Dryness of mouth and throat
  8. Slower breathing pattern
  9. Slowly losing consciousness
  10. Indigestion

How To Help Your Loved One with Fentanyl Overdose

If you find one of your family members is showing signs of a fentanyl overdose, then you need to plan for a family and friend intervention. Through this conversation, you and the others can express your observations regarding the unhealthy changes in your loved one.

Also, you can calmly express to him the need to undergo rehab to prevent further health consequences. If you are not confident of doing this on your own, then you can hire a counselor or addiction specialist to facilitate the intervention.

Treatment Options for Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl OverdoseGoing to an inpatient rehab treatment is your best option when your fentanyl addiction is moderate to acute. With that, you will be in a secure, safe, and comfortable environment, where you will undergo medication, detoxification, and behavioral therapies.

The first step to a treatment program will be a medically-assisted detox process. With that, you have 24/7 medical supervision while detoxifying from the toxins of addiction.

You will also receive prescribed medications to help you stop craving for the drug. Some of the common medicines used for this addiction is methadone and buprenorphine. These two medicines work similarly with fentanyl, where it helps reduce your urge for taking the drug.

In contrast, another medicine called naltrexone can also be given to you, where it blocks your opioid receptors so that fentanyl won’t have any effect on you.

Furthermore, behavioral therapies are always part of any treatment plan; because it helps you build a positive attitude and habit against relapse and addiction. The three evidence-based therapies used to counter fentanyl addiction are cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, and motivational interviewing.

Through these therapies and counseling, you can better understand your condition and how you can develop a healthier way of coping with triggers. Also, your family and friends will give you the moral and emotional strength to finish your treatment.

If you haven’t talked to a doctor or addiction specialist regarding your addiction, then it’s about time you do it. Get the right recovery treatment for your substance use disorder today.