Signs of Fentanyl Overdose

Fentanyl is a powerful and synthetic opioid that is prescribed to control pain and is thought to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Due to its strength and a high chance of addiction, the drug comes with adverse side effects, such as an overdose.

Fentanyl is now one of the most common drugs related to drug overdose deaths in the United States. Therefore, if you or a loved one is abusing the drug, it is important to familiarise yourself with the signs of a fentanyl overdose. It may help save a life. Read here to find out more.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is typically used to treat severe pain. Although originally a prescription drug, it is now made and used illegally, increasing the possibility of an overdose. If prescribed, it may come in the form of Actiq, Sublimaze, Transdermal fentanyl, or Duragesic.

Opioids are a category of drugs that are originally sourced from the opium found in a poppy plant. Pure opioids come directly from the plant; however, synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, are made by scientists in a lab. Synthetic opioids utilize the same chemical structure.

When obtained in illegal measures, the drug is often mixed with other unknown substances. Not much fentanyl is needed to produce the desired high, therefore, drug dealers often mix fentanyl with other illicit drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, or MDMA, to opt for a cheaper option. This makes it difficult to determine how much fentanyl is being consumed and therefore increases the chance of accidental overdose deaths. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), around 50% of the counterfeit pills that are tested contain a lethal dose of fentanyl.

Fentanyl works similarly to other opioid drugs; it binds to opioid receptors found in the brain that are associated with pain and emotions. Some of the effects produced by the drug include:

  • Euphoria
  • Pain relief
  • Relaxation
  • Sedation
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed breathing

Due to its desired effects, the drug poses a high risk of abuse and addiction. After taking the drug a number of times, the brain slowly adapts to the presence of the drug. This results in it becoming a lot more difficult for a user to feel pleasure without it.

Risk of Drug Abuse And Addiction

Due to the drug’s potency, many people become dependent on the drug, which can often lead to addiction. Fentanyl abuse is largely contributing to the current opioid epidemic at hand in the United States, and according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 56,516 synthetic opioid overdose deaths were reported in 2020.

Even if a person is prescribed fentanyl and is taking it in accordance with their prescription, they may still experience dependence. Dependence is noted by the withdrawal symptoms that can be felt if the use of the drug is suddenly stopped. Dependence does not mean that someone is addicted; however, it often leads to it. This is why receiving treatment as early as possible can help deter the risk of addiction.

Withdrawal symptoms can be experienced as early as just a few hours after the last dose of the drug was taken. Symptoms may include:

  • Problems with sleeping
  • Muscle and bone aches and pains
  • Nausea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fever

Because of the symptoms associated with opioid addictions, many people continue to take the drug to avoid the difficult withdrawal experience. This contributes to the increase in the development of fentanyl addiction.

Abusing fentanyl on a regular basis will build up a tolerance within the individual. This means that they will need a higher dose to feel the same effects. This build-up of tolerance heightens the risk of overdose as well as experiencing overdose effects, such as respiratory depression. If you or a loved one is involved in fentanyl abuse, it is important to receive treatment quickly to avoid a potential fentanyl overdose. Help is always available.

Signs And Symptoms of Fentanyl Overdose (Opioid overdose)

There is always a risk of overdose when any drug is being abused. With fentanyl overdoses now being the most drug-related deaths in the US, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of a fentanyl overdose. They include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Limp body
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Reduced or loss of consciousness
  • Respiratory depression

One of the most common signs of a fentanyl overdose is known as opioid-induced respiratory depression. Related to this is a person becoming unresponsive. This is largely due to the heart rate slowing down. A fentanyl overdose causes a person’s breathing to slow down and therefore decreases the amount of oxygen that is reaching the brain. This results in a condition called hypoxia. This can then lead to permanent brain damage, a coma, and in some cases, death.

A study was conducted to better educate people on what to expect from an overdose on fentanyl. The research included interviews with over 60 people who had firsthand accounts of a fentanyl overdose. The research found and suggests that the symptoms associated with the opioid overdose occur within seconds to minutes; this result highlights the urgency for medical attention. The most common responses when asked to describe a fentanyl overdose were:

  • Lips turning blue
  • Gurgling sounds when attempting to breathe
  • Seizure-like activity
  • Foaming at mouth
  • Confusion or strange behavior

If you believe you or somebody you know is displaying signs of a fentanyl overdose, then it is important that you seek immediate medical attention. Luckily, if caught early on, the effects of a fentanyl overdose can be reversed.

Can You Treat a Fentanyl Overdose?

If you believe someone is displaying any signs related to a fentanyl overdose, then it is key that you act quickly. If the fentanyl is mixed with other drugs, it can be difficult to determine which drug is causing the overdose. However, medication has been developed that can help reverse the effects of an overdose.

Naloxone is a medication that works if given to the individual immediately. Once you administer naloxone, it rapidly binds to and blocks opioid receptors, and in turn, blocks the effects of the drug. As fentanyl is much stronger than other opioids such as morphine, multiple doses of naloxone may be needed.

If witnessing an overdose, call 911 so that treatment can begin immediately. Once medical personnel arrives, they will instantly administer naloxone. It can come both in the form of a needle solution and nasal spray. If a person has been given naloxone, it is important that they are closely monitored to ensure that breathing is not affected. Most states in the US allow pharmacies to administer naloxone without a prescription in order to help the community save someone who they may believe is overdosing.

The next step is to receive addiction treatment.

Substance Abuse Treatment

Once an individual has recovered from an overdose, it is important that they seek addiction treatment options to help work on their substance abuse.

Typically, the first step that is undergone with any substance use disorder is medical detox. A medical detox allows for the symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal to be closely monitored and controlled and therefore creating a more pleasant experience for the individual.

Like other opioid addictions, behavioral therapies alongside medication have been proven to be the most effective in treating people with fentanyl addiction. Medication that has been found to work in reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms is buprenorphine or methadone. These work by binding to the same opioid receptors in the brain.

Treatment centers will also offer a variety of behavioral therapies that will aid in dealing with the root of the addiction. This form of treatment helps people challenge and change their behaviors and attitudes related to substance abuse and addiction.

Treatment at The Neuro-Psychiatric Addiction Clinic

If you believe you or a loved one is struggling with fentanyl abuse or addiction to other substances, then it may be time to seek professional medical help. We are dedicated and committed to delivering the best addiction and mental health treatment to help you on your recovery journey.

At NP Addiction Clinic, we offer a range of addiction treatments to ensure each individual has the best treatment to aid in their addiction recovery. We offer residential substance abuse treatment programs where you can receive care 24/7 round the clock while being surrounded by a community of like-minded people all working towards the same goal: recovery. This long-term program combines the crucial medical detox with counseling and group therapy to ensure a successful recovery.

We offer a wide range of treatment options to help cater to all individual’s needs. Some elements of our treatment programs include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Trauma-focused therapy
  • Family counseling
  • Arts, music, and recreational therapy
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Narcotics Anonymous

Learn more about addiction treatment and how we can help you on your path to mental wellness. Contact us today.

 

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine