Get Clean – Call us today!

Why Is Fentanyl So Dangerous

You felt miserable, the loss of your wife and your unborn son weighing on your shoulders. Guilt had overtaken you – you should have been in the car for that appointment. Instead, you had an unexpected meeting come up at work that you couldn’t miss, something that seems so trivial now that they are gone from the car accident.

Why Is Fentanyl So Dangerous

The grief quickly consumed you, and you knew only one way to numb the pain. Back in your teen years, you had been an avid heroin user, but once you met your wife and settled down, you never went back. There were some health issues you still managed from those days, like how you experienced acute kidney failure and had to watch what medications you put in your body from then on out.

The contact number for your dealer remained in your phone, and a short call led you to your old stomping grounds. He tells you he is out of heroin but has something much better for you – fentanyl. You know the risks, the dangers of overdosing and possibly dying. But at this point, what did it matter? You gladly accept and head home to try to forget the memories that consumed you.

In Florida, over 2,700 deaths were caused by fentanyl between January and June in 2022, including 252 in Hillsborough County alone. Clean Recovery Centers understands the worry of parents, family members, and friends about the dangers of fentanyl. Our program addresses all facets of addiction through our unique, three-phase approach to treatment, including diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. Many look to us for answers surrounding substance use disorders, and today, we are answering “Why is fentanyl so dangerous?”

Fentanyl – The Dangers Around Us

One of the biggest dangers of fentanyl is that it is everywhere, often where we least expect it. While prescription fentanyl is legal and regulated by doctors, illicit fentanyl is not and can be sourced easily through illegal laboratories. Dealers add fentanyl to substances to increase potency and keep the person wanting more, while also increasing their profit margins. You may think you are buying one substance, but you may be getting a dose of fentanyl without knowing.

Fentanyl-Laced Drugs

Common fentanyl-laced drugs include:

  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Xanax
  • Adderall
  • MDMA

And many others. Even fentanyl-laced weed has been reported here in Florida. This shows the scope of how far dealers are spreading fentanyl around. Besides being mixed with prescription pills like Adderall and Xanax, dealers are making counterfeit pills that contain only fentanyl, which can be especially dangerous.

Fentanyl Overdose – How It Happens

A fentanyl overdose occurs when too much has entered the body. The dangerous thing is – it only takes around 2 mg of fentanyl to be lethal. This is as little as around 15 grains of salt. Counterfeit pills that are made of fentanyl contain around 5mg of the substance, already confirming they are dangerous. Overdosing on fentanyl entails slow, shallow breathing that can stop, resulting in damage to the brain and organs, and possibly death. Narcan should always be administered if a fentanyl overdose is suspected.

How Fentanyl Affects the Body

When fentanyl is first ingested, it causes a slew of side effects, including:

  • Euphoria
  • Relaxation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion

These effects often set in within the first few minutes or immediately depending on how the fentanyl was taken. At first, these feelings seem good, and the person wants to experience them again. But over time, fentanyl can cause damage within the body, leading to problems and possible life-changing complications.

What Organs Are Affected by Fentanyl?

explaining-the-high-potency-of-fentanyFentanyl affects many organs and systems within the body. One of the biggest side effects of fentanyl use is dehydration. When fentanyl is used frequently and in high doses, dehydration becomes constant. This puts strain on the kidneys and can lead to chronic kidney disease. In the case of a fentanyl overdose, acute kidney injury can occur from dehydration as well.

The liver is also affected by fentanyl use. Injecting fentanyl can increase the risks of contracting hepatitis B and C, both of which affect the liver directly. If treatment is not sought right away, damage to the liver can become permanent. When the liver cannot break down toxins, they build up within the body, causing other organs to sustain damage. Once the liver becomes unrepairable, the only way to fix it is through a transplant.

Long-Term Damage to the Body

Prolonged fentanyl use can cause damage to the bowels as constipation is a common side effect. Chronic constipation can cause bowel obstructions, which are painful and can be life-threatening if left untreated. Sexual dysfunction in men can last even after fentanyl use has stopped, and in women, menstrual cycle irregularity can be a problem in the long term.

How Fentanyl Affects the Brain

When we think about the brain, two different functions come to mind – the work it does as an organ controlling the body and the work it does to produce thoughts, memories, emotions, and decisions. Fentanyl can cause damage to both sectors, including completely shutting the brain down in the case of an overdose. Mental health can still be affected even after fentanyl use has been discontinued.

Brain Rewiring and Damage from Fentanyl

Fentanyl use can change the way the brain thinks by rewiring reward pathways. Fentanyl attaches to opioid receptors, resulting in euphoria and pleasure while also blocking pain. The brain becomes used to this feeling and will send signals to the body that it needs more fentanyl. As time goes on and the brain becomes completely dependent on fentanyl, the signals turn into withdrawal symptoms. Fentanyl withdrawal comes with a plethora of symptoms including flu-like symptoms, muscle cramps, vomiting, and joint pain. These symptoms can be uncomfortable and painful, causing the person to do anything to make them go away. Thus, the cycle of fentanyl use continues.

When a fentanyl overdose occurs, hypoxia happens in the brain due to respiratory depression. This is the result of the brain not receiving enough oxygen, and if it is not restored in a matter of minutes, damage and death occur. In as little as one minute without oxygen, brain cells begin to die. At 3 minutes, the likelihood of serious brain damage is extremely high. At 10 minutes, brain damage is likely permanent and if the brain is still active, a vegetative state is a high probability. After 15 minutes without oxygen, recovery is essentially impossible.

Mental Health Effects of Fentanyl

As we mentioned above, the brain becomes dependent on fentanyl and triggers withdrawal to show the need for it. Mentally, this can make the person feel guilty for developing dependence and ashamed of themselves. Depression is common among many living with a fentanyl use disorder, and as the symptoms go untreated, they may experience thoughts of self-harm or suicide. In turn, depression can also cause the person to turn to fentanyl in the first place, worsening their mental health.

How to Stay Safe with Fentanyl All-Around

The best way to keep yourself safe from fentanyl is to avoid using substances that you do not know where they came from. If you find you cannot stop using substances, the next way to keep yourself safe is to test each substance with fentanyl test strips. These strips detect the presence of fentanyl and are decriminalized in Florida, so they are no longer considered paraphernalia. Also have Narcan handy if you are using substances or are around others who are. This can be used to help reverse the effects of fentanyl and save a life.

Besides test strips, another way to help prevent disease spread and protect yourself is through needle exchange programs. IDEA Exchange Tampa hosts different needle exchanges throughout the Bay area and offers many services including free HIV and hepatitis testing, referrals to care for positive test results, Narcan distribution, and wound care.

Seeking Help for Fentanyl Addiction in Tampa, FL

Fentanyl is one of the most dangerous substances on the streets today, and having to worry if each day will be the last you see your loved one is terrifying. Thankfully, treatment options are available that can help your loved one find recovery and take back their life. Fentanyl addiction treatment will provide the therapies, coping mechanisms, and life-skill tools to find the root causes of addiction and give you peace of mind. Don’t wait until it’s too late – fentanyl has taken enough lives, and your loved one does not need to be the next one.

If you or someone you love are managing a fentanyl use disorder, reach out to us today. Clean Recovery Centers has helped hundreds throughout the Gulf Coast begin their journey to a successful recovery. Each of our locations has housing that is certified by the Florida Associate of Recovery Residences (FARR) so you will always have a roof over your head throughout treatment. Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about our program offerings.

Get clean. Live clean. Stay clean.

Recent Posts

Where to Buy Fentanyl Test Strips

It doesn’t just affect teens. Spouses, siblings, children, uncles, cousins – anyone can fall victim to an accidental overdose. Fentanyl has been running rampant throughout the United States for years, destroying families and causing a wake of grief in its path. Many...

Cocaine Comedown

We all know the famous phrase and story. Newton was sitting under an apple tree and got hit in the head by a falling apple. Just like that, physics was born. But this phrase applies to more than just gravity. The human brain experiences this same philosophy when using...

Is Alcoholism Hereditary

Your husband has always been a drinker. His father and grandfather always found themselves drinking no matter the occasion. You have seen the mental and physical toll alcohol has taken on all of these family members, and you can’t help but look at your 13-year-old son...

Fentanyl Death Pose

You can’t help but worry about your son ever since he started hanging out with your ex-husband. He has every right to see his father, but the reason you left him was due to his drug use. You shielded your son when he was younger, but now that he is in his late teens...

What Is Coke Bloat

You knew you wanted to be a nurse when you graduated high school, and four years after attending the University of Tampa, your dreams were realized. You loved everything about your job from caring for patients to joking around with your coworkers. Life was going well...