Fentanyl Symptoms, Signs & Side Effects

Unfortunately, Colorado is all-too-familiar with the opioid epidemic happening not only in the state but around the country. At the same time as state officials throughout Colorado, in metro areas like Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs, and in smaller towns are working to combat more well-known opioids like heroin and Vicodin, newer problems are cropping up as well.

One of the lesser known but incredibly problematic opioids in Colorado is fentanyl, which is one of the strongest opiates available. Used for chronic breakthrough pain in cancer patients and following surgery, fentanyl has dangerous side effects and is highly addictive.

Fentanyl Side Effects

As with other opiates, fentanyl is available by prescription and does have therapeutic benefits in some circumstances, but even if you’re taking this drug as directed by a doctor, there are still potential side effects.

Some of the most common side effects of fentanyl include:

  • Gastrointestinal problems like constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling cold
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite

Some of the less common side effects of fentanyl that are possible include anxiety, confusion and hallucinations, tingling and depression. Other possible side effects of fentanyl and side effects from the fentanyl patch can include urinary problems, anxiety, fluid retention, and a slow heart rate. Specifically, side effects from the fentanyl patch can also include skin irritation and itching where the patch is applied to the skin.

Fentanyl Addiction: Symptoms, Signs, & Side Effects

Signs of Fentanyl Use

Symptoms of fentanyl use can be scary if you see them in someone you love.

Some of the fentanyl symptoms that can come with  using this drug, whether by legitimate prescription or otherwise, can include:

  • People who take fentanyl, especially if they’re abusing it or taking high doses, will seem euphoric at first, and then they will start to seem really drowsy, or even confused and depressed as the high wears off
  • Drowsiness, slurred speech and a sense of confusion are common symptoms of fentanyl use
  • Fentanyl symptoms can include weakness and coordination and walking problems
  • Pinpoint pupils, slowed breathing and fainting may be fentanyl symptoms

Other potential fentanyl symptoms may include sleep problems, appetite loss, hallucinations and dry mouth.

Fentanyl Abuse Side Effects

Most of the side effects of fentanyl abuse are difficult to tell apart from the standard side effects that can occur with this drug.

The only differences with fentanyl abuse symptoms are that they tend to be more pronounced and obvious because people who abuse the drug tend to take high and often incredibly dangerous dose:

  • When people are abusing a prescription opioid like fentanyl, they will often doctor shop to try and get multiple prescriptions, or they may create symptoms to get a prescription.
  • Fentanyl patches are prescribed to people as a way to manage chronic around-the-clock pain in a time released way, but unfortunately, it’s common for them to be abused as well. Fentanyl patches can be abused by breaking them open and swallowing the medicine, injecting it, or making it into a tea and drinking it.
  • People who are abusing fentanyl may start to experience financial or legal troubles as they try to obtain more of it.
  • Anytime someone takes fentanyl in a way other than how it’s prescribed by their doctor, such as taking too much or taking it too often, it’s considered abuse.

Fentanyl Addiction Symptoms

With fentanyl, there’s something to consider that isn’t an issue with other opioids. First responders in Colorado and states around the nation have been warned to look out for the symptoms of fentanyl exposure in their coworkers because this drug is so powerful that exposure to even a few specks of it can be harmful.

Fentanyl can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin inadvertently which has become a significant concern in Colorado.

Symptoms of fentanyl exposure can include feeling disoriented, sedation, coughing, and even cardiac arrest.

Because of the risks of fentanyl exposure, first responders are now being trained to wear gloves and masks when they’re handling any substance they’re unsure of.

Fentanyl Addiction Signs

You may have suspicions that someone you love is abusing fentanyl, but you could be unsure. Along with the symptoms of the drug itself, most fentanyl warning signs are similar to the things that happen when people are addicted to other drugs.

Some of the first signs there might be a problem with drugs typically includes withdrawing from friends, family, and activities. People who have a drug problem may start to hang out with different people or isolate themselves entirely.

Fentanyl warning signs can also include financial problems that result from spending money on drugs.

If you know someone has a problem with opioids like fentanyl, but you aren’t sure if they’re addicted, some of these signs can include being preoccupied with the drug, being unsuccessful when trying to stop using, and continuing to use even when the drug causes bad outcomes.

Signs of a Fentanyl Overdose

The following are some of the fentanyl signs of an overdose. These overdose signs also include signs of fentanyl patch overdose.

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Making choking or snoring sounds
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Look pale in the face
  • Breathing problems including slowed or irregular breathing
  • Blue tinted skin or fingernails
  • Nodding off
  • Loss of consciousness

The signs of a fentanyl patch overdose are similar to any other kind of fentanyl overdose. If someone has overdosed on fentanyl, the signs might just make it seem like they’re sleeping, but it’s important that you check for other symptoms.

Signs of Fentanyl Poisoning

Fentanyl poisoning symptoms are the same as the symptoms of a fentanyl overdose. Fentanyl poisoning symptoms may include skin that feels cold or clammy, seizures, low blood pressure, pinpoint pupils, difficulty breathing, and a slow heart rate.

What Should You Do If You Suspect Fentanyl Toxicity?

Whether the fentanyl exposure was purposeful or inadvertent, if you notice fentanyl toxicity symptoms it’s extremely important to contact emergency services immediately.

If you or someone you love is using fentanyl and abusing it, it’s imperative to get professional help at a Colorado drug treatment or somewhere nationally, because the risk of death is high with this dangerous drug. One option in Colorado serving the needs of people from Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, statewide and also national is The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.