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What Is Fentanyl? Facts Parents Need to Know

What Is Fentanyl? Facts Parents Need to Know

Fentanyl is an incredibly potent synthetic opioid. It is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl has legitimate medical uses, as it was originally developed for pain management. However, because of its powerful properties and effects, fentanyl has high abuse potential.

Outside of medical settings, fentanyl is often mixed or cut with other illicitly manufactured street drugs to increase drug potency. It is essential to understand that a lethal dose of fentanyl is equivalent to four grains of sand. Because of this, fentanyl often contributes to unintentional drug overdose deaths.

How Is Fentanyl Used?

Fentanyl, in medical settings, is typically given in a shot or patch that adheres to the skin. It can also be taken in lozenge form, like cough drops. Illegal fentanyl tends to be sold as a powder that goes into eye droppers or pills which are made to look like legitimate prescriptions.

It’s not uncommon for the powder to be mixed in with cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine. For illicit drug manufacturers, it’s cheaper to mass-produce recreational drugs by mixing them with fentanyl. Most people that consume illicit opioids do not realize the likeliness of their drug being cut with other substances such as fentanyl. As a result, they are unknowingly increasing their risk of overdose.

How Does Fentanyl Affect the Brain?

Similar to other recreational drugs, fentanyl binds to opioid receptors in the body, which are found in the part of the brain that controls emotions and responses to pain. The brain will adapt to the drug with continued use, which reduces the drug’s effects over time. In turn, an individual will have difficulties experiencing pleasure from anything other than the drug and may start to consume drugs in larger quantities. This is the beginning of drug addiction.

The effects of fentanyl include:

  • Extreme euphoria
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Sedation or unconsciousness
  • Difficulty breathing

Overdosing On Fentanyl

Most cases of overdose and death from synthetic opioids involve fentanyl. Every day, nearly 150 people die from overdosing on synthetic drugs. Fentanyl can not be detected through sight, taste, or smell. Instead, fentanyl must be detected through drug test strips. Test strips are inexpensive and can provide results in under five minutes. However, a negative test result does not necessarily mean that a drug is pure or safe. Overdose is still possible without any presence of fentanyl.

Signs of a Fentanyl Overdose

The following signs could indicate a dangerous overdose of fentanyl:

  • Tiny pupils, otherwise called known as pinpoint pupils
  • Loss of consciousness, even if it appears like falling asleep
  • Weakened or difficulty breathing
  • Choking or making gurgling noises
  • Limpness of limbs
  • Clammy, cool skin
  • Discolored fingernails, lips, and skin

What Do I Do if Someone Is Experiencing a Fentanyl Overdose?

Sometimes the effects of a drug can mimic overdose symptoms. However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Call 911 immediately if someone is experiencing a combination of the symptoms above. Try to keep them awake. Lay them on their side so they don’t choke. Stay with them until help arrives.

Sometimes people are reluctant to call for help out of fear of getting in trouble if they, too were using drugs. However, most states have laws to protect both the person who overdosed and the person who overdosed from getting into legal trouble. In this instance, saving a life is the utmost priority.

How Is a Fentanyl Overdose Treated?

The treatment of fentanyl overdose will depend on the form in which it was taken since many drug dealers will mix it with other substances such as heroin or cocaine. This can make it difficult for medical staff to know which drug is causing the overdose. Fortunately, naloxone is a treatment that can be used for many overdoses. It comes in the form of a nasal spray or injection.

If used right away, naloxone is very effective in connecting with opioid receptors to block the effects of harmful drugs. However, fentanyl is stronger than other opioids, so multiple doses of naloxone may be needed. That’s why quick intervention is crucial if you suspect that someone has overdosed on fentanyl. Anyone who is given this treatment should be monitored for a few hours to ensure that their breathing remains normal.

Some states prohibit naloxone without a prescription. However, it’s more like to access naloxone as a nasal spray. If you have a loved one who regularly uses dangerous drugs, this could be an important tool to have in the event of an emergency. There are online treatment resources that will send you naloxone free of charge after completing a short course on how to administer the drug.

Recreational drug use is dangerous enough. However, the likeliness of recreational drugs being laced with fentanyl is increasing every day. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, please seek help right away. Consider carrying a nasal form of naloxone in the event of an emergency. For teens and young adults struggling with drug use, Clearfork Academy is here to help. We offer a variety of services and treatments, including detox, residential treatments, intensive outpatient treatments, and summer programs. Our licensed staff is uniquely equipped to help young men, ages 13 to 17, struggling with substance abuse. Our treatment methods address both physical and mental conditions that contribute to underlying causes of drug use, complete with a spiritual angle. The combination of therapy, medication, and healthier coping mechanisms can help your teen live a healthier life. To learn more, call us today at (888) 966-8604.

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The Rise of Fentanyl Addiction and Teenage Overdose

The Rise of Fentanyl Addiction and Teenage Overdose

Fentanyl-related deaths have been on the rise in the last decade, taking the lives of adults and teenagers. While rising rates of fentanyl overdoses among teenagers are terrifying, there are things parents can do to help spot the signs and help their teen overcome fentanyl addiction.

What Is Fentanyl?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), fentanyl is a “powerful synthetic opioid similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.” While it is a prescription drug, it’s often made and distributed on the street and used to lace other street drugs. 

Like morphine, fentanyl is sometimes used to treat chronic pain or post-surgery recovery pain. As a synthetic opioid, fentanyl has become one of the most frequently used street drugs and, as a result, is involved in 59% of opioid overdoses in the United States, at least as of 2017, according to the NIDA.

Fentanyl in a Controlled Environment 

Doctors may prescribe fentanyl if patients develop a tolerance to other opioids. Understand that prescription drugs can have negative effects. The real danger comes from fentanyl on the street. Specifically when other drugs are laced with fentanyl. 

The primary motivation for drug dealers to lace other drugs with fentanyl is price. By mixing it with substances like heroin or cocaine, buyers will experience an intense high through less consumption. Teenagers may be unaware of this mixing of additional drugs. When this happens, teens could consume more without realizing what they are using, leading to an overdose. 

Effects of Fentanyl

The effects of fentanyl are similar to other opioids. In the article linked above, NIDA describes what happens in the brain when using fentanyl. It binds our opioid receptors, which are “found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions.” Consistent use causes the brain to develop a tolerance. When this happens, it becomes difficult for individuals to experience pleasure from anything except fentanyl.  

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), fentanyl produces many effects, including: 

  • Relaxation 
  • Euphoria 
  • Pain relief 
  • Sedation 
  • Confusion 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Urinary retention 
  • Pupillary constriction 
  • Respiratory depression

Many of these signs may be difficult to notice in others; however, there are signs of fentanyl addiction that you should know.

Noticing the Signs of Fentanyl Addiction

Spotting the signs of fentanyl addiction early will help you determine if your teen has an addiction. For starters, you will begin to notice behavioral changes. Changes may include but are not limited to: 

  • Mood swings 
  • Isolation 
  • Risky behavior 
  • Impaired judgment 
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Your teens may also have irregular sleeping and eating patterns, lack of personal hygiene, or exhibit signs of other drug-seeking behavior. Noticing these signs can be difficult, but it can also be life-saving. If you are unsure, then you should consult a healthcare professional. 

Medically Prescribed Fentanyl

Medically prescribed fentanyl is common among synthetic or street drugs. Signs of abuse include:

  • Slow and shallow breathing  
  • Nausea, 
  • Vomiting, 
  • Limp body 
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Low blood pressure

Noticing these signs can save the life of a teen struggling with fentanyl, as can knowing the steps to take when someone is overdosing. The most critical thing to do is call 911 immediately. 

Naloxone is also a medication that can combat an opioid overdose. If necessary, naloxone will be administered by the paramedics immediately. If you suspect fentanyl overdose, be sure to discuss with your teen’s medical professional on the topic.

Fentanyl and Teens

The human brain does not fully develop until the age of 25. Therefore, your teen’s brain is still developing. Any drug use will hinder brain development and cognitive function. In addition to impairing the brain’s development, your teen may experience further addiction to other substances, mental disorders, and heart disease. It could even create health issues and co-occurring disorders in adulthood. 

Educate Yourself About Fentanyl

By educating yourself about fentanyl, you can become more capable of noticing the signs of addiction, symptoms of overdose, and how to treat a fentanyl overdose. If you are unsure of where to start, always begin by talking to your child’s physician. A healthcare professional can work with you and your teen to find the right help.

Additional steps may be necessary, like finding an appropriate residential treatment program for your teen. Here at Clearfork Academy, we offer teens detox, residential, and intensive outpatient programs to help them recover from addiction. If you fear your teen is suffering from fentanyl addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out. Taking action sooner can save your teen’s life.  

Fentanyl has become one of the deadliest drugs in the past couple of decades, with more people dying of overdoses every year. While it is often prescribed for medical purposes, synthetic fentanyl is instead used. Unfortunately, many are unaware that synthetic fentanyl is mixed with other drugs. At Clearfork Academy, we can help. Our staff of healthcare professionals will educate you and your teen about the dangers of fentanyl. Our individual and group therapy programs allow teens and their parents the opportunity to learn how to work together to manage addiction. We also provide the necessary resources in real-world settings to help your teen develop healthy habits and find the motivation to pursue the future they deserve. If your teen is currently struggling to manage addiction, then the time to get help is today. To learn more about finding treatment for fentanyl addiction, call Clearfork Academy today at (888) 966-8604.

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Fentanyl: What You Need to Know NOW

Fentanyl may be a funny-looking word, but the risk it poses to our kids and our community is no laughing matter. It’s a synthetic opioid, meaning that it is created artificially in labs and used to treat patients after surgery or those in severe pain (such as late-stage cancer patients). Fentanyl is closely derived from morphine, which is a naturally occurring opioid; however, fentanyl is about 80 to 100 times stronger. 

 

Unsurprisingly, this powerful drug has made its way onto the black market and has emerged onto our streets. Fentanyl can be absorbed through medical patches or injections and can also be taken in pill form. The really dangerous part of this drug is that it is often disguised to look like other drugs or is laced with other drugs. Drug dealers use fentanyl as a replacement or additive to other drugs because of its cost-effectiveness. A very small amount of fentanyl produces a big high, which puts more money in dealer’s pockets as they minimize their use of more expensive substances. 

 

Fentanyl is the number one cause of drug overdose in the United States, rising from 14% of drug-related deaths in 2010 to 59% by 2017. 

 

Though it is often not taken purposefully, a run-in with fentanyl one time can lead to death; even in survivors, severe organ damage and long-term psychosis are common effects. It also has a heightened risk of a condition known as hypoxia. Hypoxia slows breathing and the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain. This results in lasting brain damage, coma, or even death.

 

If this wasn’t bad enough, opioid drugs such as fentanyl show an increase in addiction because of how they affect brain chemistry. The brain adapts to the drug after prolonged use and makes it much harder to derive pleasure from anything besides the drug itself. That means that one hit can leave your kiddo chasing that high again and again. 

 

Even buying marijuana through illegal avenues can lead to life-threatening results, simply because we never know what it could be laced with, and there are no guarantees of its safety. So, parents, it’s time to educate yourself on the fentanyl epidemic and have a conversation with your kids. For more information on fentanyl, visit us at ClearforkAcademy.com, drugabuse.gov, or samhsa.gov

 

If your child is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, Clearfork Academy is here to help. Our clinical admissions specialists are available 24/7 to help with your unique situation. Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at help@clearforkacademy.com, or visit our website at www.ClearforkAcademy.com