Will a Fentanyl Overdose Change My Thought Process Long Term?

October 11, 2023

Written By: TJ Carlini , LCDC-I & II

Through repeated drug use, individuals develop drug tolerance, causing them to need more of a substance to achieve desired effects. However, using a substance in greater quantities can place individuals at a greater risk of drug overdose. Overdoses can drastically impact one’s physical, mental, and emotional state. After experiencing a fentanyl overdose, clients should seek medical assistance and professional help to heal and establish lasting sobriety and recovery.

At Buena Vista Recovery, clients recovering from fentanyl addiction are cared for and supported through their journeys. Personalized treatment plans are curated for each client to help them reach their recovery goals. For clients who just experienced a fentanyl overdose, receiving care in a secure setting is extremely beneficial for long-term recovery. 

Warning Signs of a Fentanyl Overdose

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is nearly 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Moreover, it is often manufactured and “cut” into other substances like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, etc. Taking two milligrams of the drug is considered a lethal dose. Thus, clients who have a tolerance built and continue to increase their dosage are at a significant risk of fentanyl overdose. A fentanyl overdose can also have lasting effects on the brain as well as one’s emotional and mental health. It is important to understand the effects and seek treatment if addiction is present.

A fentanyl overdose can be noted by the following signs:

  • Small or constricted pupils, commonly known as “pinpoint pupils”
  • Falling asleep or losing consciousness
  • Slow, weak, or no breathing
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Limp body
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Discolored skin, mainly noticeable in the lips and nails

The Effects of a Fentanyl Overdose

Fentanyl overdoses can drastically affect someone’s life and those around them. It can take a huge toll on one’s physical body and health and inform severe mental and emotional struggles. Those who are able to recover from a fentanyl overdose often have great motivation to begin recovery and lead a life of sobriety. 

Before starting recovery, it is important to recognize how a fentanyl overdose can impact overall health in all different ways. This way, treatment can be individualized to meet the client’s unique needs physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Physical Effects After an Overdose

Using fentanyl in any quantity can greatly affect the brain. Clients can experience life-threatening symptoms and severe effects, sending the body into shock. For instance, breathing can slow or stop, informing respiratory depression. This can lead to further effects on the brain, including hypoxia and anoxia. Hypoxia is when there is a decreased amount of oxygen reaching the brain. Anoxia is when there is a complete loss of oxygen going to the brain. Furthermore, both of these situations can inform lasting physical consequences. 

Due to the severe effects on the brain, overdoses can cause irreversible brain damage and other long-term health issues. The frontal lobe is highly susceptible to hypoxia, and this can lead to a number of issues with executive functions. Problem-solving, planning, organizing, emotional control, and attention can all be detrimentally impacted. 

Injury and other severe effects on the brain can then lead to other physical symptoms such as chronic pain. Chronic pain can exist as headaches, neck pains, or back pains. Furthermore, the physical toll that occurs to one’s body during and after an overdose can also lead to emotional and mental struggles.

Emotional and Mental Effects of a Fentanyl Overdose

When coping with chronic pain, brain injury, or other harm, there is a lot on one’s plate while healing from a fentanyl overdose. This can be draining for some clients, leading to depression or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Clients can also experience doubt, shame, or guilt because of their overdose. This may lead to self-isolation, creating more difficulties in the healing process.

After an overdose, clients may feel lost as if they do not have a clear sense of direction for their life at the moment. This makes it crucial for clients to reach out and receive treatment for their fentanyl addiction associated potential mental health struggles.

Navigating Life After a Fentanyl Overdose

After experiencing a fentanyl overdose, recovery can provide clients with support and guidance as they reflect on and persevere past this moment in their lives. At Buena Vista Recovery, there are a number of programs offered to clients recovering from substance abuse depending on where they are in their addiction recovery process, the severity of their addiction, and what services and supervision they require. 

Finding The Right Treatment Program

For some clients who require more supervision and guidance, which is normal after experiencing an overdose, inpatient rehabilitation may be best suited. Inpatient care works by incorporating different therapies and treatments into an in-house program. Clients have access to medical care and supervision 24/7. They are also directly removed from the environment where their addiction was fostered, making it easier for clients to cope with healing and cravings in the early stages of recovery.

Another treatment approach is through an intensive outpatient program (IOP). IOPs still provide the same amount of intensive care as an inpatient program, however, the client is not housed at the facility. While staying in the environment of their addiction can bring about many challenges, clients are provided with intense support, care, treatment, and services in order to progress in their recovery journey. Some clients may also not require inpatient treatment but need that stronger sense of guidance.

Here at Buena Vista Recovery, we believe that clients who have experienced a fentanyl overdose still have the ability to persevere past this moment in their lives and lead a life of sobriety and health. While an overdose can have effects on your physical health and brain, as well as emotional and mental effects, recovery is the first step in leading a healing life. We offer inpatient and outpatient programs, among many others, in order to help clients heal fully. In our treatments and therapies, we address all root causes and additional effects of addiction to promote a healthy, happy life. Call us at (480) 741-9414 to learn more about fentanyl addiction and recovery.