First Time Use of Fentanyl and Overdose

First Time Use of Fentanyl and Overdose

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When people take drugs, they may have the misconception that they need to be habitual users to overdose. But that is not the case. Even taking a drug just once can lead to an overdose. Since everyone’s body reacts to drugs differently, a fentanyl overdose can occur when someone takes it for the first time.

As we look at fentanyl and how it affects the body, we’ll also examine some startling statistics regarding overdose deaths involving fentanyl. We’ll also examine how a rehab for fentanyl can help prevent overdose and lead people on the road to recovery.

Continued after video:

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine, the big difference is that it is 50-100 times more potent.[1] While it is a prescription drug used to treat patients with severe pain, it can also be made and used illegally.

When fentanyl is prescribed, it can be given as a shot, patch, or as lozenge. The illegal form of fentanyl is made in labs. This synthetic fentanyl can be sold as a powder, put in eye droppers or nasal sprays, or made into pills that resemble other prescription opioids.[1]

What is Fentanyl?

Drug dealers can also mix fentanyl with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. This becomes extremely dangerous when people taking drugs don’t realize fentanyl has been added to the drug. This can often lead to overdose because people get stronger drugs than their bodies can handle. This is especially true if someone takes just one dose and doesn’t realize its effects on their body.

Fentanyl and Overdose Statistics

Statistics show the severe impact fentanyl can have, even in just one dose. Fentanyl overdose continues to be a big problem in the United States when you consider these numbers:[2]

  • There were 56,516 overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (primarily fentanyl) reported in 2020.
  • In 2021, there were more than 71,000 overdose deaths related to fentanyl.[3]
  • Over 150 people die daily from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.[4]

As the numbers of fentanyl overdoses continue to grow, it’s important to understand how fentanyl affects the body, the effects of an overdose and how it can be treated.

How Does Fentanyl Affect the Body and the Brain?

Fentanyl affects the body similarly to other commonly used opioids.[5]

The effects of fentanyl include:

  • Relaxation
  • Pain Relief
  • Euphoria
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constricted Pupils

Fentanyl use can also produce side effects such as:

  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Sedation
  • Unconsciousness

Fentanyl also impacts the brain. Like heroin, morphine, and other opioids, fentanyl binds to the body’s opioid receptors.[1] These are found in the parts of the brain that control pain and emotions.

How Fentanyl Affects the Body and Brain

After repeatedly taking opioids, the brain adapts to the drug, making it less sensitive and difficult to feel pleasure from anything else besides the drug. Although this may not happen with just one initial dose of fentanyl, overdose can still occur.

What are the Effects of a Fentanyl Overdose?

A fentanyl overdose happens when the drug produces a series of adverse effects that can be life-threatening.[1] When people overdose on fentanyl, their breathing can slow down and even stop. When this happens, it decreases the amount of oxygen that the brain receives. This is called hypoxia. Hypoxia can lead to a coma, permanent brain damage, and even death.

Effects of Fentanyl Overdose, Identifying a Fentanyl Overdose

There are several warning signs that someone may be overdosing on fentanyl.[4]

These include:

  • Small, constricted pupils
  • Slow or weak breathing
  • Limp body
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Cold and/or clammy skin
  • Discolored skin (specifically in lips and nails)

Treating a Fentanyl Overdose

According to the CDC, these are the five steps you should take if you think someone is experiencing a fentanyl overdose.[4]

  • Call 911 immediately
  • Administer Naloxone if available
  • Try to keep the person awake and breathing
  • Lay the person on their side to prevent choking
  • Stay with the person until emergency assistance arrives

Because drug dealers may mix cheaper fentanyl with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, and others, it can often be difficult to determine the drug causing the overdose.

What to do if someone is overdosing on Fentanyl.

But, if it is fentanyl, Narcan/Naloxone is a medicine that can treat a fentanyl overdose when it’s given right away.[1] It works by rapidly binding to opioid receptors and blocking the effects of opioid drugs. Multiple doses of naloxone may be needed because fentanyl is much stronger than other opioid drugs.

Naloxone is available as an injectable and as a nasal spray. When given naloxone, they should be monitored for another two hours after the last dose to ensure their breathing does not slow down or stop. In some states, pharmacists can dispense naloxone without a personal prescription.

Rehab for Fentanyl Use

Fentanyl addiction can be treated using medication and behavioral therapies.[1] Medications such as buprenorphine and methadone work by binding to the same opioid receptors in the brain as fentanyl. This can help to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Fentanyl Rehab in Arizona

Behavioral therapies can also help to treat fentanyl use. These therapies can help people change their attitudes and behaviors that are related to their drug use. A combination of medication and behavioral therapies is often used to get the best results.

Call Desert Cove Recovery Today

If you or a loved one needs rehab for fentanyl use, Desert Cove Recovery can help. We offer a variety of treatment programs to help people stop using fentanyl and other drugs. Our drug treatment programs include a 12-step program as well as holistic treatments. We know that each person’s addiction is different, so their treatment needs to be different as well. We believe in finding the right combination of treatments to help each individual succeed in their recovery plan.

Call Desert Cove Recovery today or reach out to us online to learn more about our programs and how we can help you get on the path to living a drug-free life.