Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
What does fentanyl do to a person?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It's typically used to treat severe pain, especially after surgery, or to manage pain in individuals with chronic illnesses who have developed a tolerance to other opioids.
When used under medical supervision, fentanyl can effectively relieve pain. However, when used illicitly or without a prescription, it can have severe, and even fatal, effects. Here's what fentanyl can do to a person:
Physical Effects: In the short term, fentanyl can induce feelings of relaxation, euphoria, and decreased perception of pain. However, it also slows breathing and can lead to unconsciousness or death from respiratory failure, particularly in high doses or when combined with other substances that depress the central nervous system.
Dependency and Addiction: Fentanyl is highly addictive. Regular use can lead to physical dependence, where the body requires the drug to function normally, and psychological addiction, where a person feels a compulsive need to use the drug despite its harmful consequences.
Overdose Risk: Due to its potency, the risk of overdose with fentanyl is high, especially if a person mistakenly believes they're taking a less potent opioid, as illicit fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs. Overdose can lead to severe respiratory depression, unconsciousness, and death.
Withdrawal: Once a person becomes dependent on fentanyl, stopping its use can result in withdrawal symptoms. These can include muscle and bone pain, sleep problems, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes, and uncontrollable leg movements.
Long-Term Health Effects: Chronic fentanyl use can lead to an array of health problems, including severe constipation, increased sensitivity to pain, confusion, depression, and increased risk of infections due to needle sharing (if injected).
Due to its potency and high risk of overdose, non-medical use of fentanyl is extremely dangerous. If you or someone you know is struggling with fentanyl or other opioid use, it's crucial to seek professional help immediately.
What are the signs of addiction?
Physical symptoms: Changes in appearance, such as weight loss or gain, poor hygiene, bloodshot eyes, or constricted pupils, can be indicative of addiction. Additionally, the person may display signs of intoxication or withdrawal, such as tremors, sweating, or flu-like symptoms.
Behavioral changes: Addiction can lead to significant shifts in behavior, such as increased secrecy, social isolation, or sudden mood swings. The person may neglect responsibilities, withdraw from activities they once enjoyed, or display uncharacteristic aggression or irritability.
Loss of control: A hallmark of addiction is the inability to control substance use or engagement in harmful behaviors, even when the person expresses a desire to stop. This can lead to increased frequency or intensity of use, as well as unsuccessful attempts to quit or cut down.
Preoccupation: The person may become preoccupied with obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of the substance or behavior, often at the expense of other aspects of their life.
Risk-taking: Addiction can lead to increased risk-taking behaviors, such as using substances in dangerous situations, driving under the influence, or engaging in risky sexual activities.
Neglecting relationships: Addiction can strain personal relationships, as the person may prioritize their substance use or behavior over their connections with friends and family.
Changes in sleep patterns and energy levels: Addiction can cause disruptions in sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or excessive sleepiness. The person may also experience fluctuations in energy levels, such as periods of hyperactivity followed by lethargy.
Tolerance and withdrawal: Over time, individuals with addiction may develop a tolerance to the substance or behavior, requiring higher doses or more frequent engagement to achieve the desired effect. If the person stops using the substance or engaging in the behavior, they may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, irritability, insomnia, or physical discomfort.
Continued use despite negative consequences: A key sign of addiction is the persistence of substance use or engagement in harmful behaviors despite experiencing negative consequences, such as health issues, relationship problems, financial difficulties, or legal troubles.
Neglect of responsibilities: Addiction can cause a person to neglect personal, professional, or family obligations, resulting in job loss, financial difficulties, or relationship problems.
How to deal with a brother or sister addicted to drugs?
"Dealing with a sibling addicted to drugs is challenging and often emotionally draining. Here are several strategies to consider when navigating this difficult situation:
Education: The first step is to educate yourself about addiction. Understanding that addiction is a chronic disease can help you comprehend the struggles your sibling is going through.
Communication: Open lines of communication with your sibling. Speak honestly about your concerns, but avoid judgmental language. Express your love and concern rather than blame and anger.
Support, Don't Enable: It's important to support your sibling without enabling their addiction. This means helping them in ways that promote recovery, such as providing emotional support or helping them access treatment, but not shielding them from the consequences of their actions.
Encourage Treatment: Advocate for your sibling to seek professional help. This could be a rehab facility, outpatient treatment, therapy, or 12-step programs. Offer to accompany them to appointments or meetings if they are comfortable with it.
Take Care of Yourself: Living with a sibling's addiction can be emotionally taxing. It's crucial to take care of your mental and emotional health too. Seek support from friends, family, or support groups. Professional help, such as therapy or counseling, can also be very beneficial.
Set Boundaries: It's necessary to set boundaries with your sibling to protect your own well-being. This might include rules about drug use in your home or not providing money that could be used to buy drugs.
Patience and Persistence: Recovery is a long process and relapses can occur. It's important to stay patient and persistent, and to maintain hope for your sibling's recovery.
Involve a Professional: If you're finding it hard to get through to your sibling, consider staging an intervention with the help of a professional counselor or intervention specialist.
Practice Compassion: It's essential to remember that your sibling is battling a disease. Stay compassionate and understanding, and remind them that they are loved and valued regardless of their struggle with addiction.