Fentanyl is a prescription synthetic opiate medication ranging from 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It can be injected, smoked, snorted or taken in pill form and is primarily used to treat post-surgery or chronic pain in adults or cancer patients. Because of its potency, overdoses can occur easily and are increasingly responsible for up to thousands of deaths each year. The CDC and DEA have recently focused efforts on prohibiting fentanyl production in the United States because of the frequency it is also found lacing illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine.

Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl is a highly addictive and potent drug, making recreational use, especially for youth who have no exposure to opiods, even more dangerous. The dosage can be fatal when not precise and medically administered, and users can become addicted after just one use. Like heroin, it is an opiod but Fentanyl can be 50 times stronger than heroin alone. At an increasingly alarming rate, heroin is sold laced with the far more deadly fentanyl, and the user is completely unaware until administering the drug.

There is also a likelihood that adolescents using fentanyl will further misuse it by combining with alcohol or other drugs. Fentanyl alone is dangerous with such a high potency and combining it with other drugs that alter the perception of reality can be even riskier.

Other reasons for fentanyl abuse and adolescent addiction:

  • Feelings of pain from illness or injury in situations where surgery requires significant physical discomfort. Physicians sometimes prescribe fentanyl for pain; however, it is typically only for severe chronic pain in adults. Adolescent patients should always ask for a different prescription.
  • Emotional or physical abuse. Fentanyl can be a powerful tranquilizer and nervous system suppressor. When a child experiences severe emotional trauma due to emotional, physical or sexual abuse; an unhealthy home environment; or psychological aftershock from natural disasters, drugs that cause conscious disconnection with the environment can be appealing.
  • Early-onset mental illness. Mental illness of varying levels can provoke teens to seek out and use drugs like fentanyl to numb the psychological effects of their condition. Being open about discussing mental illness and drug abuse with your children can help stop fentanyl addiction before it starts.

Symptoms of fentanyl abuse in adolescents include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Constant mood changes
  • Withdrawal from family activities and gatherings
  • Suppressed appetite
  • Skin irritation, accompanied by scratching
  • Reduction in motor skills, clumsiness
  • Hallucinations
  • Frequent shaking or chills
  • Vomiting and stomach upset
  • Depressed mood or anxiety
  • Constricted pupils, resembling tiny points
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Chronic illness caused by reduced immune system
  • Muscle pain
  • Memory complications

In addition to street sales of fentanyl, adolescents sometimes access this high-level drug using parental prescriptions. Talking to your children about the effects and dangers of fentanyl and other drugs can reduce the drive to try them. Be open and calm about these conversations and express your willingness to help.

If your child becomes addicted to fentanyl or is currently struggling with another addiction, please call Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Treatment Center today at 662-259-8474.