Fentanyl: What Parents Should Know 

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid medication that is used to treat severe pain. However, it is also used as a recreational drug, sold as counterfeit pills, and linked to numerous overdoses and deaths in the united states.

Fentanyl should only be used under the supervision of a qualified health provider. Parents should be aware of the dangers of fentanyl abuse and should take steps to prevent their children from accessing this dangerous drug.

If you think your child may be using Fentanyl or are concerned about their safety, please seek professional help immediately. The following information can also help you know what Fentanyl is, where it might be found, and how to get help for your child if they are struggling with opioid addiction.

What is Fentanyl? What Parents Should Know

Fentanyl is used for pain relief after surgery, for cancer patients, and for people who have chronic or severe pain that doesn’t respond to other medications. Fentanyl is an incredibly potent opioid, and even a small amount can lead to serious side effects or death. Opioids include prescription drugs that are used to treat pain, but they also include illegal drugs made from the powerful sap of the poppy flower. In addition to Fentanyl, opioids include drugs and pain medications like:

  • Codeine

  • Heroin

  • Morphine

  • Oxycodone

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, meaning it’s made in a laboratory rather than from the poppy plant. Fentanyl labs are found worldwide, and the drug is shipped illegally into the United States. The DEA warns that more countries are now producing Fentanyl and sending it to the United States, making it essential for parents to be aware of the growing danger. If you have prescription medication at home, including Fentanyl, it’s best to keep a close eye on them if you believe your child might be abusing fentanyl.

Fentanyl is Often Misused As a Recreational Drug

Fentanyl is often used as a recreational drug because it’s so potent, readily available, and affordable. A small amount can produce a feeling of euphoria or a “high.” Other users also report feeling other effects of Fentanyl, such as:

  • Increased happiness

  • A sense of intense relaxation

  • Sedation or drowsiness

  • Reduced pain

  • Lowered inhibitions

These effects can cause young adults to misuse fentanyl or combine them with other street drugs. Abusing fentanyl is highly dangerous because Fentanyl is up to 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine or other opioids, and even a small amount can lead to serious side effects, opioid overdose, or death.

In addition, because fentanyl is so potent, it’s also hazardous. Taking too much fentanyl can lead to slowed breathing, unconsciousness, and even death. Fentanyl is sometimes mixed with other drugs without the user’s knowledge, which can increase the risk of overdose.

Because of its potency, fentanyl is only supposed to be taken under the close supervision of a healthcare provider. However, some people abuse fentanyl by taking it without a prescription or by taking higher doses than prescribed. Fentanyl abuse can lead to tolerance (needing more and more of the drug to get the same effect), dependence (needing the drug just to feel normal), and addiction.

If you think your child is abusing fentanyl, it’s important to seek professional help right away. Fentanyl drug abuse is a serious condition that requires treatment by experienced healthcare professionals.

Fentanyl Is Sold In Many Forms

While Fentanyl was originally used as a patch or intravenously, there are now many illicit drugs that include fentanyl as an ingredient. Fentanyl is available in many forms, including:

  • Pills

  • Powders

  • Patches

  • Lozenges

  • Nasal sprays

  • Injections

Fentanyl is often sold as a white or off-white powder. Users can mix it with other substances like heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. These mixtures are sometimes called “speedballs” or “bombs.” Fentanyl is also sometimes sold as fake Oxycontin pills or other prescription opioids. Because it’s so potent, a small amount of fentanyl can go a long way, making it easy to sell.

There is mostly illicitly manufactured fentanyl in circulation, which means a legitimate pharmaceutical company does not make them. These fake pills can be hazardous because the person selling them may not know what’s in them or how potent they are.

Like other synthetic opioids, fentanyl is also sometimes sold as a liquid, which can be injected, inhaled, or used in a nasal spray. Whichever form it is sold, fentanyl is incredibly dangerous if not used under the direct supervision of a medical provider. All forms of fentanyl can lead to potential overdoses.

Fentanyl Overdose Symptoms

Because illicitly manufactured fentanyl is so potent, it’s essential to be aware of the signs of an overdose, which include:

  • Slow or shallow breathing

  • Severe sleepiness

  • Cold, clammy skin

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Slow heart rate

  • Muscle weakness

  • Nausea and vomiting

If you think your loved one has overdosed on Fentanyl, it’s important to call 911 right away. Fentanyl overdoses can be treated with a medication called naloxone, which can reverse the effects of the drug and save someone’s life. However, many teens might be scared to call 911, fearing getting in trouble with the law or their parents.

Sadly, many young adults also succumb to fentanyl drug overdose deaths. According to the CDC, deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (primarily Fentanyl) rose in 2019, with 56,516 overdose deaths reported in 2020. 

There are several Warning Signs that Your Child May Be Abusing Fentanyl

Parents should be aware of the signs of fentanyl abuse to get their children help if needed. Some warning signs of substance misuse:

  • Sudden changes in mood or behavior

  • Withdrawing from friends or family

  • Poor performance in school

  • Lying or being secretive

  • Skipping class

  • Fearfulness or paranoia

  • Decreased motivation

  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy

  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits

  • Dilated pupils

  • Nodding off or falling asleep at odd times

  • Slurred speech

  • Worsening mental health issues

These are just some of the many symptoms of substance abuse disorder that your child might exhibit if abusing fentanyl. It’s crucial to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your child and be honest about their addiction. If fentanyl controls your loved one’s life, the only way to reduce their risk of overdose and death is by getting them help from a substance abuse treatment center. Thereafter, it can be pertinent to seek aftercare programs, such as sober living houses.

While getting your loved one to attend addiction treatment might be difficult, it’s worth it to help your loved one stop using Fentanyl, improve their quality of life, and help them maintain their sobriety.

How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System

Determining the duration of fentanyl in the system isn’t a simple task. Various factors such as metabolic rate, age, weight, and other medical conditions play a significant role in how long the drug stays in the body. The half-life of fentanyl is approximately 4-6 hours, implying that half of the drug is eliminated from the body in that timeframe.

However, there is a substantial variation in the time it takes for fentanyl to be completely eradicated from the body. While some people may clear the drug more quickly, others may take significantly longer. Fentanyl can remain in the system for up to 72 hours or even more in certain circumstances.

As fentanyl use is often accompanied by severe withdrawal symptoms, seeking medical supervision and support during detoxification is essential. Medically supervised detox can aid in the management of withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, and provide access to appropriate medical care in the event of any complications. Collaborating with a healthcare professional to devise a safe and effective detoxification and recovery plan is essential.

Your Child Will Need to Detox From Fentanyl

If your child is addicted to fentanyl, they will need to undergo a detoxification process before they can begin treatment. Detox is the first and most crucial step in overcoming an addiction, but it’s also one of the most difficult.

During detox, your child will likely experience opioid withdrawal symptoms as their body adjusts to functioning without fentanyl. Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and even dangerous, so detox needs to be done under the supervision of medical professionals.

Some of the withdrawal symptoms your child may experience during fentanyl detox include:

  • Anxiety

  • Insomnia

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Agitation

  • Mood swings

  • Sweating

  • Shakiness

While opioid detox is difficult, it’s necessary so your child can enjoy long-term sobriety and begin to recover from their addiction. After detox, your child will be ready to begin addiction treatment. They can begin treatment at an inpatient treatment center, which will provide 24/7 support through medical and counseling staff. They will then transition into a substance abuse outpatient treatment program.

Sober living homes are another great option to help your loved one after they have finished medical detox. For young adults actively working or attending school full-time, sober living homes allow them to attend to their responsibilities while still offering a structured and supportive environment.

Recovery From Fentanyl Addiction Is Possible

It’s important to know that your child or loved one can successfully recover from fentanyl addiction with the help of addiction treatment. Addiction treatment can take many forms, typically including behavioral therapy, medication, and aftercare support groups.

  • Behavioral therapy can help your child identify and change the behaviors that led to their addiction. Your child can partake in group and individual therapy sessions to help them explore the root of their addiction and find ways to cope with their pain and issues without using fentanyl. Often, sober living programs focus intently on restructuring behaviors and patterns that can potentially lead to relapse.

  • Medication may also be used to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Some of the best medications that can help with opioid addiction treatment include buprenorphine, methadone, and extended-release naltrexone Vivitrol. These medications can help your loved one fight the cravings for opioids like Fentanyl, as well as help them overcome their addiction to the drug. After detoxification, sober living programs will help people come off of these medications and will learn to cope with life without the need for any opioid medications such as Suboxone.

  • Support groups can provide valuable peer support and accountability as your child works to stay sober. If your loved one has already completed outpatient or inpatient treatment, they can use the help of support groups in a sober living home to help prevent them from relapsing. Sadly, as many as 40-60% of people will relapse after they finish treatment, so sober living homes and support groups are crucial for your child’s success. By providing a stable, sober community and accountability therein, long-term sobriety becomes more feasible.

Get Your Loved One Help For Fentanyl Addiction As Soon As Possible

If you think your child may be struggling with addiction, don’t wait to get them help. The sooner they receive treatment, the better their chances are of making a full recovery. Addiction treatment is a lifelong process, but with commitment and hard work, your child can recover from fentanyl addiction and go on to lead a happy and healthy life.

Many resources are available to help you and your family through this difficult time, such as sober living homes and outpatient treatment programs that can help give your child the support they need during recovery.

Call New Life House and begin your recovery journey.

Last Updated on May 24, 2023


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