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 meth addiction?
Physical appearance: Meth use can lead to drastic changes in physical appearance, such as rapid weight loss, poor dental hygiene (often called "meth mouth"), skin sores from excessive picking, and premature aging.
Sleep disturbances: Meth is a potent stimulant, causing users to experience insomnia or erratic sleep patterns. They may stay awake for extended periods, followed by crashing for long hours to recover.
Increased energy and hyperactivity: Meth use can cause a surge in energy, leading to hyperactivity, rapid speech, and fidgeting. The person may engage in repetitive or obsessive behaviors, such as cleaning or disassembling objects.
Paranoia and hallucinations: Meth can induce feelings of paranoia, suspicion, and even auditory or visual hallucinations. The person may become increasingly mistrustful of others and exhibit irrational or delusional beliefs.
Aggression and mood swings: Meth addiction can lead to unpredictable mood swings, including irritability, aggression, anxiety, or depression. The person may become easily agitated or display violent tendencies.
Impaired cognitive function: Chronic meth use can cause difficulties with memory, concentration, and decision-making. The person may struggle to maintain focus or display confusion and disorientation.
Social isolation: Meth addiction can lead to social withdrawal, as the person prioritizes their drug use over personal relationships and activities they once enjoyed.
Risk-taking behaviors: Meth use can impair judgment, leading to increased risk-taking behaviors such as unsafe sexual practices, criminal activities, or driving under the influence.
Neglect of responsibilities: Meth addiction can cause a person to neglect personal, professional, or family obligations, resulting in job loss, financial difficulties, or relationship problems.
Tolerance and withdrawal: Over time, meth users may develop a tolerance to the drug, requiring higher doses or more frequent use to achieve the desired effects. If the person stops using meth, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, depression, anxiety, and intense cravings for the drug.
What are the symptoms of opioid withdrawal?
Opioid withdrawal can be a challenging process that presents both physical and psychological symptoms. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on factors like the type of opioid used, the duration and intensity of use, individual health status, and genetic factors. Here are common symptoms that might be experienced during opioid withdrawal:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Restlessness and agitation
- Runny nose and teary eyes
- Excessive yawning
- Goosebumps (hence the term "cold turkey")
- Abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Intense cravings for opioids
These symptoms can begin as early as a few hours after the last dose of the opioid and typically peak within 72 hours, though they may persist for a week or more. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms, which are primarily psychological, can continue for weeks or even months.
It's important to note that while opioid withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, it is generally not life-threatening. However, complications like severe dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea can occur, which is why medical supervision is recommended during the withdrawal process. Furthermore, the risk of relapse is high during withdrawal, and using opioids again after a period of abstinence can lead to a potentially fatal overdose, as tolerance may have decreased.