The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), is the universal manual to diagnose mental health issues. Because it is such a well-known standard, it has widespread influence over how disorders get diagnosed and treated.
The DSM version 5 recognizes opioid use disorder as a sub-category of substance use disorders, a disorder with mild-moderate and severe use criteria.
Out of the 11 potential symptoms, two or more symptoms must be present during one year to diagnose fentanyl use disorder.
The potential symptoms of fentanyl use disorder are:
- Giving up activities to use fentanyl
- Psychological or physical problems related to the use of fentanyl
- Most of your time is spent using fentanyl
- Attempts to stop or control use have failed
- You’re using more or for more extended periods
- Neglected significant responsibilities for the use of fentanyl
- Interpersonal relationship problems
- Use of fentanyl in ways that are dangerous to you or others
Signs of Fentanyl Use Disorder on the Body and Mind
Some mental and physical signs of fentanyl use disorder may point to an addiction being present. The psychological and physical dependence caused can quickly have long-lasting side effects from fentanyl on the body and the mind.
Some effects on the mind include:
- Drowsiness: Fentanyl use in large and small doses may lead to constant tiredness. You fall in and out of sleep for a few hours after consumption.
- Elation: Fentanyl use can lead to over-excitement. This elation could show up in the form of irritability or hostility. Or sometimes just a burst of energy, ready to clean out the basement.
- Emotional confusion: The emotional numbing effect of fentanyl is one of the big reasons that people choose to continue using. Over time fentanyl use disorder will cause the loss of the ability to manage or identify emotions. This confusion is because the brain’s natural ability to deal with emotions is numb.
- Grandiosity of self: Fentanyl use may lead to feelings of self-importance. You are criticizing others or boasting about your strengths when feeling the effects.
- Chemical imbalance: Leads to mental health problems such as bipolar or depression—also, neurological damage to the brain receptors.
- Long-term memory loss: prolonged use of fentanyl can cause damage to the hippocampus, which is the memory control center of your brain.
- Decision-making skills: like learning and reasoning, are damaged with prolonged fentanyl use. Processing simple logic and reason becomes disrupted.
- Self-control issues: Prioritizing fentanyl over everything else in life may cause an inability to control thoughts or actions. Fentanyl becomes the captain of the ship.
- Hormonal imbalance: Hormones are the body’s natural chemicals, so with prolonged fentanyl use, hormones can be thrown off balance in the body. Hormonal imbalance can affect major organs and cause unstable moods.
Some effects on the body include:
- Hyperalgesia: extra sensitivity to pain
- Psychomotor impairment
- Suppressed immune system function
- Sleep disorders
- Lowered respiratory rate
- Abdominal cramping
Behavioral Signs of Fentanyl Abuse
When you dedicate a large part of your day to looking for, finding ways to pay for, or doing the drug, you may have a substance use disorder.
So when you step back and look at your daily life, fentanyl consumes most of your day.
Perhaps you have tried to control or cut down the use and find that you cannot.
You notice that you are taking more significant amounts than you intended.
You have a powerful craving for fentanyl even when you are still feeling the effects of the last dose.
Fentanyl has caused you to miss important family or social activities.
You find yourself using fentanyl in dangerous places, maybe in a house that you know is dangerous or using while you are driving or operating heavy machinery.
Despite problems you have faced because of your fentanyl use, like going to jail and being kicked out of home, you continue to take fentanyl.
Some psychological changes occur with fentanyl use.
Some common psychological changes are:
- Lack of empathy
- Memory loss
- Lack of focus
- Suicide risk
It is essential to develop good coping skills and robust positive support systems to recover from the long-term psychological effects of fentanyl use.
Some of the physical changes of a fentanyl use disorder are the easiest to spot.
Some physical changes you may notice are:
- Poor personal hygiene: Don’t shower, no makeup, hair is pulled up and matted, clothes look worn and dirty.
- Lack of physical activity: especially if they were once an active runner.
- Constantly sick: sneezing, runny nose, yawning, cold and hot chills.
- Weight loss: Even just a few pounds can be a sign of use.
- Changes in sleep patterns: Requiring more or less sleep than usual for the person.
- Spots or acne: picking skin or scratching is familiar with opiate use and acne on the face or body.
- Fatigue: More tired than usual.
- Back pain: Complaining of back pain.
One of the main physical changes that occur because of fentanyl use is loss of control. Once someone has become addicted to fentanyl, they tend to lose self-control.
In addition, due to the neurological damage to the brain from fentanyl use, people’s behavior becomes unmanageable. Basic thoughts or feelings become too hard to process.
The desire or craving for fentanyl is so strong that it becomes a priority despite any harm it is causing to the mind or the body. This is just one of the things that make fentanyl so dangerous.
Developed tolerance and withdrawal symptoms are also red flags for fentanyl use disorder.
Withdrawal Symptoms or Other Side Effects
You may not realize that you have a physical dependence on fentanyl until you go a day without it. Then, suddenly, you are sick, your nose is runny, and your stomach is queasy. Then, you realize that you are physically dependent and now going through withdrawal.
Many people don’t even know that they have become addicted to a substance until they miss a dose.
Withdrawal is a big fear for people with an opiate use disorder, so buprenorphine (Suboxone®) is an excellent medication to assist you in treatment.
Buprenorphine (Suboxone®) works on the same opiate receptors in the brain to allow the body to feel the same as it does with fentanyl.
Buprenorphine (Suboxone®) is a safer alternative to cold turkey because it also helps fight off cravings, leading to relapse even after years of abstinence.
Some withdrawal symptoms from fentanyl could include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Hot or cold chills
- Anxiety or irritability
- Muscle and body pain
- Feeling weak
- Breathing faster than usual
- Sneezing and runny nose
- High blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
Causes and Risk Factors for Fentanyl Use Disorder
Having a mental disorder or a mood disorder puts you at risk. You are about twice as likely to take opioid medications long-term than those with no mental health conditions.
Other risk factors such as genetics, environmental, and psychological aspects also play a role in a fentanyl use disorder.
Some additional risks of fentanyl use disorder are:
- Prior drug or alcohol problems
- Stressful life events
- Heavy tobacco use
- Thrill-seeking behaviors
- Spending time with others who use often
- History of criminal behaviors, including DUIs
- Have chronic pain
- Being in high-risk environments
Some other factors that contribute to fentanyl use disorder are:
- Poverty and low income
- History of previous drug or alcohol use
- Family history of alcoholism or drug use
- Family history of mental disorders
The Knox County Regional Forensic Center (KCRFC) in Knoxville, Tennessee, is the medical examiner for the local areas. Between Nov 2020 and August 2021, KCRFC reported 770 total unintentional drug overdose deaths. Of these deaths, 73% were postmortem positive test results for fentanyl overdose.
Sometimes fentanyl is mixed with other drugs, so consuming any drug puts you at a higher risk. This is an another extremely dangerous aspect of the drug, seeing it alone makes it tough to identify fentanyl. In addition, spending too much time around other people who take drugs often can put you at a greater chance to partake in the same behaviors.
Suppose you have a history of any other alcohol or drug use. In that case, you may be at a greater risk of developing fentanyl use disorder.
Get Treatment For Fentanyl Addiction
ReVIDA Recovery® offers a fentanyl treatment program for Tennesseans.
Buprenorphine (Suboxone®) is a medication used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT is an option for fentanyl use disorder treatment that combines medication and counseling to help you overcome opioid addiction and regain control over your life.
Buprenorphine (Suboxone®) is a great tool to assist you in recovery from fentanyl use disorder. It helps fight off cravings during the recovery process.
Suppose you are interested in learning about buprenorphine (Suboxone®) to treat your or a loved one’s fentanyl use disorder. In that case, it is wise to reach out to professionals and discuss treatment options.
Successful recovery is possible with the assistance of medical professionals at a treatment facility, therapy, and social support networks.
Taking the first step to recovery is a crucial decision to walk away from fentanyl entirely and live a much healthier lifestyle.
To start buprenorphine (Suboxone®) treatment for yourself or a loved one residing in Tennessee, don’t hesitate to contact ReVIDA Recovery® at about twice as likely.
FAQs About the Signs of Fentanyl Addiction
Which of the following are signs of a substance use disorder?
According to recent reports, about 130 people in the U.S. die each day from fatal overdoses of opiates. Furthermore, substance use is a wide-scale problem across the country.
Some common signs of substance use disorder include:
- Changes in social groups
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Urgently taking off often
- Unstable with their finances
- Drug paraphernalia can be found on their person or in their homes
- They seem sick more often
- Loses jobs or other responsibilities
Does heroin cause stomach cramps?
Withdrawal from heroin and other opiates is likely to cause stomach cramps and vomiting issues. Diarrhea and gas can also cause stomach cramps with withdrawal from opiates.
All opiates are likely to cause constipation which could include stomach cramps.
What are four types of drugs?
There are four main categories of psychoactive drugs. First, psychoactive drugs are any substance that can change the thoughts, mood, or consciousness of the individual consuming it.
What defines a substance use disorder?
Drug dependence is defined as compulsive drug-seeking behavior that is hard to control. Typically despite harmful consequences, the person continues to use the substance.
While taking the drug, the first time was a decision made by a person. After repeated use of the substance, the brain begins to attribute the feelings from the drugs as imperative for survival.
Treatment is possible, but a long-term treatment plan needs to be in place to recover from any chronic health problem successfully.