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Fentanyl’s Short and Long-Term Effects

Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine; therefore, concerns over the rise of fentanyl abuse in Atlanta are legitimate. People experiencing severe pain, typically as a result of surgery, receive fentanyl for relief of their symptoms. Unfortunately, the substance is the subject of misuse and abuse, and the adverse effects of fentanyl misuse are severe. The most alarming and significant consequences of misusing fentanyl are overdose and death, which has the DEA touting the slogan “One pill can kill.” 

Rise of Fentanyl Abuse in Atlanta

The Drug Enforcement Agency states that Atlanta has become a hub of distribution for fentanyl in the United States. Atlanta’s Ledger-Enquirer reports that in 2021, nearly 1,400 overdose deaths were from fentanyl misuse. In 2021, widespread overdose deaths from fentanyl abuse in Atlanta and neighboring counties. Two significant drug cartels are releasing drugs throughout the state with the presence of an international airport and major highway systems to traffic fentanyl through. 

Fentanyl arrives in the area via all transportation methods, including the mail. The  Postal Service finds it challenging to monitor every package mailed because fentanyl comes in pills or powder. The effects of fentanyl abuse are driving opioid-related deaths in Georgia into staggering numbers. Data from The Georgia Department of Public Health shows that the rise of fentanyl abuse in Atlanta is causing opioid-related overdose deaths in Georgia to increase from 101% from 853 in 2019 to 1,718 in 2021. 

Fentanyl and Poly-Drug Use Effects

Overdose is one of the most significant effects of fentanyl misuse because of the extreme potency of the drug. Fentanyl overdose is possible even with first-time usage. It is impossible to know if fentanyl contains other substances such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, or MDMA. Another unfortunate effect of fentanyl misuse is addiction. Polysubstance users may be using fentanyl unintentionally because dealers often include fentanyl to enhance the high the drugs produce. 

Polysubstance abuse is extremely hazardous because of mixing stimulants such as heroin, cocaine, meth, and MDMA.  The CDC has found fentanyl use in combination with other drugs only increases the chances of heart attack, stroke, brain injury, and dangerous blood pressure levels. The effects of fentanyl use with alcohol are equally hazardous and result in complex fentanyl detox requirements during treatment. Depressants mixed with stimulants can cause breathing difficulties, as well as damage to the brain and other organs, overdose, and death.

Short-Term Effects of Fentanyl Abuse

Opioids, including fentanyl, work through activating opioid receptors in the brain and throughout the body. The effects of fentanyl can be short-term and long-term. Short-term use of fentanyl can result in unintentional misuse in the treatment of severe pain. Another consequence is triggering a desire for the feelings of happiness and euphoria that the drug produces, inducing a craving to take more of the drug. 

Immediate short-term effects of fentanyl abuse include:

  • Euphoria and extreme happiness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Itching and sweating
  • Confusion
  • Constipation

More significant short-term effects of fentanyl abuse can include the following:

  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Hallucinations and delirium
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Overdose

Long-Term Effects of Fentanyl Abuse

The long-term effects of fentanyl abuse are significantly more impactful on everything in life. Long-term abuse builds tolerance, which calls for higher dosages to achieve the same result. Once tolerance builds, dependence on the drug occurs when the body adapts to the drug in the system and begins to feel normality with the drug. Finally, once reliance on the drug appears, withdrawal symptoms will start once the dosage lessens or a person stops using the drug. 

Addiction, or an opioid use disorder, begins, and despite all the negative consequences involving fentanyl usage, can not stop it. The following long-term effects of fentanyl use disorders include:

  • Damage to interpersonal relationships 
  • Problems maintaining or finding employment
  • Financial difficulties from spending so much money on drugs
  • Increasing risk of contracting infectious diseases, HIV and hepatitis
  • Overdose
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Mental health struggles
  • Increased chance of suicide

Fentanyl Overdose Signs

The effects of fentanyl overdose are a medical emergency. In the case of an overdose, it is vital to call 911 and administer naloxone (Narcan) if possible. Naloxone is an opioid overdose reversal drug. Rolling the person over on their side prevents choking. If possible, it is critical to keep the person awake until emergency people arrive. 

Furthermore, the following signs and symptoms can indicate fentanyl overdose:

  • Slow, weak, or no breath sounds
  • Falling asleep or loss of consciousness
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Limp body
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Discolored skin (bluish lips and nails)
  • Small and constricted pinpoint pupils

Fentanyl Addiction

It is essential to realize that fentanyl can be safe if taken under a doctor’s supervision. Unfortunately, because of the euphoric effects of the drug, it is highly addictive. It only takes a small amount of fentanyl to cause life-threatening symptoms, including overdose and death. The effects of fentanyl often lead dealers to lace other drugs to create a more substantial level of high.

Dealers who lace cocaine, methamphetamine, and other substances with fentanyl may not disclose the addition. The drug can look like candy and take users by surprise, resulting in an overdose or death. Fentanyl addiction requires medically monitored detox in a professional center to end usage. After detox, cognitive-behavioral therapy is beneficial for learning new coping mechanisms and changing life habits. 

Withdrawal and Treatment

The effects of fentanyl withdrawal are uncomfortable and challenging to manage. Medically monitored detox is the recommendation within a professional treatment center. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can help to control the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms. Following detoxification, there are several types of beneficial therapy to work on living a sober lifestyle. 

Reach Out For Professional Treatment of Fentanyl Addiction in Georgia

With a rise in fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths in the Atlanta area, it is imperative to seek treatment. The Retreat of Atlanta in Georgia is familiar with the highly addictive substance fentanyl and the devastating effects it has on every aspect of life. The center offers an experienced staff of physicians and mental health professionals to offer the best outcomes from detox and therapy. Contact The Retreat of Atlanta today to begin the process of ending addiction.

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