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What Are the Signs of Fentanyl Overdose?

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What Are the Signs of Fentanyl Overdose?

a young man looks sad in a mirror after learning about signs of fentanyl overdose

In recent years, the problem of fentanyl addiction has escalated rapidly, making it more important than ever to recognize the signs of fentanyl overdose. This potent synthetic opioid and its illicit analogs can lead to life-threatening situations, and being able to identify an overdose could save a life.

Red Oak Recovery® helps young men struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues. Call 828.382.9699 to start our fentanyl addiction treatment program in North Carolina.

Understanding Fentanyl: A Potent Opioid

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It’s often prescribed for severe pain, but illegal versions have flooded the street market. The potency and availability of this drug make it extremely dangerous, leading to a high risk of overdose.

Fentanyl analogs, which are chemically similar substances, have become increasingly common and can be even more potent than fentanyl itself. These analogs are often produced in illicit laboratories and sold as counterfeit pills or mixed with other drugs such as heroin or cocaine.

The Overdose Risk

Since it’s so potent, exposure to fentanyl (especially illicit versions) is dangerous. Prescription fentanyl created in regulated laboratories is still dangerous due to its addictive potential, but the illicit versions pose a higher risk due to unknown and unregulated ingredients.

Even individuals who have an elevated tolerance for opioid drugs can easily overdose on fentanyl due to its potency. The drug acts quickly, and the effects can be felt within minutes. If someone develops an opioid addiction because they are prescribed fentanyl and then have their prescription stopped, their cravings may lead them to seek out illicit versions. The sudden spike in drug strength can easily lead to an unintentional overdose.

What Are the Signs of Fentanyl Overdose?

The signs of a fentanyl overdose—and an opioid overdose in general—can vary from person to person, but common symptoms include:

  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Extreme sleepiness or inability to wake up
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Small, pinpoint pupils
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Loss of consciousness or unresponsiveness

Respiratory depression is one of the most dangerous signs of fentanyl overdose. The body will not get enough oxygen, and vital functions will slow down or stop. Without prompt medical attention, a fentanyl overdose could result in coma or death.

What to Do When You Recognize Symptoms of Fentanyl Overdose

If you suspect someone is having a fentanyl overdose, take the following steps:

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Try to keep the person awake.
  • Administer Narcan (naloxone), a medication designed to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose, if it’s available and you’re trained to do so.
  • Stay with the person until help arrives.

Remember, never try to handle a fentanyl overdose alone. Even if you administer naloxone, a single dose may not be enough to completely reverse an overdose. Emergency personnel may need to administer additional doses or perform other life-saving measures.

Preventing Fentanyl Overdose

Prevention is key in reducing the risk of fentanyl overdose. Here are some steps you can take to prevent an overdose:

  • Never use opioids without a prescription from a doctor.
  • Take medications exactly as prescribed, and do not mix them with other substances.
  • Dispose of unused or expired medications properly.
  • Seek help if you think you live with addiction.

Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness. Addiction is a disease that changes your brain. It takes more than willpower to try and break the cycle of substance abuse. Red Oak Recovery® offers help when you need it.

Reach Out to Red Oak Recovery® Today

If you or someone you love is struggling with fentanyl addiction, reach out to Red Oak Recovery® today. Our team of dedicated professionals can provide support and guidance throughout your recovery journey. Don’t let addiction control your life. Contact us online or call 828.382.9699 now to get started in our young men’s rehab center in North Carolina.