The Rising Case of Fentanyl Addiction

Man with an Opioid Pill

Fentanyl addiction is a silent killer. According to the 2021 press release of the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a 28.5% increase in drug-related deaths in 2021 – and most of them are caused by synthetic opioids.

But what exactly is fentanyl, and why is it becoming popular? What is fentanyl used for? The United States Drug Enforcement Agency classifies fentanyl as a synthetic opioid 80-100 times stronger than morphine. It’s primarily used as a pain reliever for cancer patients in the form of patches applied to the skin or as tablets.

Fentanyl drugs are classified as opioids, which are drugs that make the body relax. Other effects of fentanyl include euphoria and pain relief. However, when a person takes too much of it beyond the standard dosage, they may experience respiratory depression, nausea, vomiting, and urinary retention.

The DEA lists China White, China Girl, Apace, Dance Fever, and Goodfellas as some of the street names for fentanyl drugs.

Substance Abuse During the Pandemic

The 2021 press release has shown the effects of stress and isolation that the COVID-19 pandemic brought, leading to widespread substance abuse. Prescription drugs have been more accessible than usual, making it more difficult for law enforcement to monitor.

According to psychologists and medical researchers from the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, a major spike in substance use was observed during the pandemic. This includes an increase in drug use frequency and quantity. People who have used substances might have also tried new drugs if they couldn’t get their old ones.

Fentanyl, heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs bind to our bodies’ opiate receptors, found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotion. In binding with these receptors, they increase dopamine levels, causing a person to feel both euphoric and overly relaxed. Eventually, it leads to fentanyl addiction and overdose.

Symptoms of Fentanyl Overdose

A person can feel the side effects of fentanyl as soon as it’s administered. The synthetic opioids’ potency, effects, and potential dangers increase with street-sold drugs. You should immediately take action if you suspect your loved one has a fentanyl addiction or other drugs that may contain it. A lethal dose of fentanyl can cause a person’s lungs to stop breathing.
Here are some telltale signs of fentanyl addiction:


As a type of opioid, fentanyl is often used as an anesthetic to sedate a person. For a first-time user, consuming immense amounts can manifest in drowsiness and poor hand-and-eye coordination.

Confusion and Focusing Difficulty

Confusion and losing the ability to focus are some of the more obvious signs of opioid addiction. Because this type of opioid shuts the body down, it is not surprising that a person under the influence of this drug often appears confused or “out of it.”

Stiff Muscles

Addicts have a high chance of experiencing muscle rigidity when opium and other types of opioids enter their bodies. It begins with lockjaw, or the inability to move the jaw. There are also instances where synthetic opioid intake causes extreme muscle rigidity, depending on a person’s age.

Although studies cannot yet determine how exactly opioids like fentanyl cause muscle rigidity, one thing is for sure: the effects are highly dangerous to the central nervous system; stiff muscles often lead to fentanyl deaths.

Irregular Breathing

One of the dangers of fentanyl addiction is having a depressed respiratory system. Organs slow down as muscles of the body relax, resulting in a person’s difficulty breathing.

You can tell a person is having opioid problems when they are exhibiting irregular breathing coupled with intense sweating.

Reduced Urine Output

Although this particular symptom is considered a rare occurrence, opioids have been observed to cause problems in the kidney. Researchers and medical professionals are even becoming wary of using too much opioids for anesthesia. Further studies are needed to understand the full extent of this particular drug’s effect on the kidneys.

Erratic Behavior

Substance abuse has an undeniable long-term effect on a person’s brain. Opioid addicts often exhibit erratic behavior and depression once their drug intake comes to a halt.

What to Do When You Have An Addict In Your Household

Addiction is more than abusing drugs like cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana. Substance addiction can result from an emotional or chemical imbalance or any other disorder that makes it difficult to live a normal life or uses drugs to help.

It is quite understandable to feel denial when you find out that a family member faces problems connected to substance abuse. However, this is not a hopeless situation. Here are some effective and productive ways to tackle the issue of substance abuse:

1. Offer Mindful Support

Recognize the actions and behaviors you and your family have that enable your loved one to continue to be addicted to substances.

You can either allow the addict to live with you and continue using substances or make excuses for them.

It can seem cruel to deny someone you love dignity or basic care. But, it takes love to recognize your enabling behavior and take steps to change it.

2. Establish Boundaries

You need to set boundaries once you’ve decided to stop enabling your loved one’s drug addiction. Setting these boundaries and enforcing them is one of the most difficult things to do. However, you must realize they are essential to help your loved one. When you set your boundaries, make sure they are realistic. Be serious about the limits you set, and be willing to adhere to them.
It is essential to understand why you need to set boundaries. It is better to have boundaries set to protect your family than control the addicted family member’s behavior. You must also know that your loved ones may react differently to your boundaries.

3. Seek Professional Help

Your loved one likely doesn’t know where to start or what resources are available to them. They might not even want to hear from you. As long as your loved one is not ready for change, they are unlikely to accept any option you offer. It will also make it difficult for them to explore their options.

There are many options for treatment. You can help them by looking at what treatments are available so you can make informed suggestions when the time is right. Consider these factors before choosing a drug rehab facility.

There is another way to help someone in a downward spiral who you feel must get help as soon as possible, regardless of whether they are willing or not: intervention. However, planning one might become difficult because of the many layers involved in staging them. If you feel that your loved one needs intervention, talk to a professional.

Haven House Recovery Center Is Here to Help

If you suspect anyone close to you is suffering from substance abuse, waste no time and encourage them to seek professional help. Haven House Recovery Center is a recognized addiction recovery center in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, which aims to help men of all ages from all walks of life free themselves from addiction.

Call us now to start the journey towards healing.