Fentanyl is classified as a synthetic opioid drug. Prescribed for the relief of moderate to severe pain, it is similar to other opioids like morphine and heroin. However, it is much more potent and powerful. For this reason, doctors typically only prescribe it for patients who are already tolerant to other pain relief drugs. However, it is still this potency that makes it highly addictive.
Most of the people who abuse fentanyl do so because of the relaxing, euphoric, and happy effects that it causes. Even so, it is a dangerous drug on account of its potency and power.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be anywhere between 50 and 100 times as powerful as morphine - another similar drug. As a prescription medication, it is also available illegally on the street.
Similar to morphine, this drug is typically prescribed for the treatment of severe pain sensations, such as among clients who have just undergone a surgical procedure. Sometimes, doctors also prescribe it for the management of chronic pain among clients who have developed physical tolerance to other opioid pain relief drugs.
Tolerance to these drugs occurs after a period of using or abusing them, where you find that you need to take them in higher doses or much more frequently than you used to before you can experience the desired sensations and effects.
When it is prescribed, fentanyl is available in various brand name formulations. These include but are not limited to Sublimaze, Duragesic, and Actiq. On the streets, it is known by various names by drug dealers and users who are trying to avoid detection by the authorities. These include Tango and Cash, Murder 8, Jackpot, Goodfellas, Friend, Dance Fever, China White, Apache, and China Girl.
Most of the fentanyl that is available on the streets is produced illegally. It is available in the form of a powder. Users typically take this type of the drug through injections, snorting, smoking, and swallowing. Some also release the substance from its prescription patches by chewing or smoking.
The drug is available in the form of a pill or a powder. However, some drug dealers cut or mix it with other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. When this happens, the drug mixture is marketed as if it is another substance altogether.
If you take these drugs, you might inject, snort, or swallow them without knowing about the content. This could increase your risk of suffering a drug overdose. In fact, most of the overdoses involving fentanyl are as a result of people who took the substance without their knowledge.
In case you use opioid drugs, you need to get a naloxone kit. They are available free of charge. Naloxone is a drug that is effective at reversing - at least temporarily - the negative effects arising from an opioid drug overdose situation. It is useful because it can give you enough time to seek medical help when you are suffering an overdose.
That said, fentanyl has some medical uses and benefits. Doctors prescribe it for the management and treatment of chronic and acute pain, such as that arising when you are recovering from surgery, while struggling with breakthrough pain, as well as during cancer treatment.
It is most commonly provided for clients who have already started using other less point opioids or opiates like oxycodone and morphine in high doses but still find that they are unable to manage their pain. Further, anesthetists in hospitals also use it even though it can sometimes lead to chronic pancreatitis.
If you abuse this drug, it might depress your respiratory system to a point where it fails completely. This could potentially lead to death, or a fatality, in case you suffer a drug overdose.
Fentanyl is similar to other opioids like morphine and heroin in the sense that it will work by attaching itself to the opioid receptors found in the segments of the brain that are responsible for controlling emotions and pain.
If you have been taking this class of drugs - of which fentanyl is a part - for the long term, your brain might already have adapted to their presence. As a result, this would have diminished its sensitivity. This effectively mean that you might have difficult feeling pleasure from just about everything else apart from fentanyl. Once this happens, you will find yourself using the substance more often than you used to in the past.
Some of the effects that arise from taking this drug include but are not limited to:
Fentanyl is an OPR. As a result, you might not believe that it can lead to substance abuse and addiction in the same way that street drugs like heroin do. However, you need to realize that it is possible to abuse this substance both intentionally and accidentally.
The drug will have an effect on your CNS - or central nervous system - to a large degree. When this happens, it can lead to the production of dopamine in excessive amounts. As a result, the dopamine will chemically alter as well as flood your brain - especially in the long haul.
These neurochemical changes, on the other hand, will cause you to develop tolerance. This means that you would have to take the drug in higher doses or more frequently than you used to before you can experience its pleasurable effects.
Eventually, your tolerance will be replaced by dependence. Once you have become dependent, you may find yourself restoring to illegal activities just to get your hands on the drug.
Dependence means that you would have to take fentanyl just to feel normal. At this stage in your substance abuse, you will need this drug to experience the sensations that your brain has come to associate it with. Without the drug, your life will feel bland and uninspiring because it would have already become difficult for your brain to experience or feel any pleasure from the activities, people, situations, places, and things that used to give you happiness.
It is possible to progress quite rapidly from substance abuse to addiction while taking an OPR such as fentanyl. However, doctors and health care professionals are now able to give an accurate diagnosis of a substance use disorder involving this drug. This is due to the DSM-5 - or the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - which has outlined some criteria for the diagnosing of an addiction.
That said, you need to realize that the potency and power of this drug is responsible for its addictive potential. While taking the drug even though you are following your doctor's instructions to the latter, you can still develop dependence.
At the stage of dependence, it will be impossible for you to stop abusing fentanyl. This is because when you reduce the dose that you have become accustomed to taking or completely stop using the substance, you will experience withdrawal symptoms.
Once this happens, your life will be characterized by compulsive substance seeking and use that you can no longer control. This is even as your life changes and is increasingly characterized by issues at home or work, health problems, and financial difficulties - among others.
While living with an addiction to this drug, you will also display some psychological symptoms of a substance use disorder. These include but are not limited to hallucinations, mood disorders, paranoia attacks, anxiety, and depression - among many others.
Physically speaking, you may experience respiratory depression and failure, itching, vomiting, nausea, blurred vision, and slowed breathing - among other negative effects that could also include a fatal overdose.
If you abuse this drug, it can turn out to be dangerous. For instance, it might cause you to suffer a drug overdose. The important thing to keep in mind is that fentanyl is highly potent and powerful. This is one of the reasons why it is easy to quickly develop a substance use disorder after using it a couple of times.
As your tolerance to its effect continue increasing, you will find that you have to take it in higher doses or more frequently than you used to in the past. Unless you do this, you will suffer some negative withdrawal symptoms - some of which can be potentially dangerous.
On the other hand, taking this substance in high doses could cause depressed respiration - or even a complete failure of your respiratory system. In case you reach this point, you may suffer a drug overdose that could potentially turn out to be fatal.
Further, combining fentanyl with other substances like methadone, morphine, and heroin could increase your risk of suffering death. It is for this reason that doctors now report that the existence of illegally manufactured fentanyl has been increasing the number of drug overdose deaths involving opioids like this drug.
Even if you use this substance legally after getting a prescription from a doctor, there is still a risk that you may still develop an addiction or an opioid use disorder. Many people who start taking the drug eventually find that they are addicted to it.
Among all the risks that accompany fentanyl use and misuse, perhaps the most severe is death. Unless you seek medical attention immediately after suffering an overdose involving this drug, there is a possibility that you might die.
The other risks that are associated with the substance include accidents and aftereffects that arise from misusing it. This is because fentanyl can cause drowsiness, which is why you should never operate machinery or drive a car while you are on it. You may also suffer confusion, respiratory issues, and loss of consciousness while on the drug, which could lead to these accidents.
On the other hand, if you have been taking fentanyl intravenously, you may have infections at the sites where you inject it into your system. Sharing needles may also cause issues like microorganisms, harmful bacteria, blood clots, and infections that could become fatal due to sepsis. They may also cause shock or inflame the endocardium.
The other negative effects of fentanyl use and abuse include but are not limited to:
It is also almost impossible to determine whether a pill or powder contains this drug. This is because you cannot taste, smell, or see it. Since the drug is quite strong, there is a small difference between doses that will cause you to experience pleasure and those that will lead to death.
You might also overdose on the drug in case you take a prescription that was not written for you. This is because different people handle the drug differently. On the other hand, if you are on other substances at the same time that you take fentanyl, you could increase your risk of an overdose.
A synthetic narcotic pain killer, fentanyl can lead to an overdose. It is quite dangerous especially due to the current ignorance about it. What is known is that the substance is between 50 and 100 times as powerful as heroin and morphine.
A drug overdose will occur when you experience adverse side effects and other potentially fatal symptoms as a result of taking an overly high dose of fentanyl. If you suffer an overdose, you may also experience the following symptoms:
In case you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek emergency medical help as soon as possible. This is because a fentanyl overdose can turn out to be fatal or permanently damaging.
While addicted to this drug, the best decision you can make is to seek professional drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation services. The best form of treatment for fentanyl addiction will involve a combination of medically supervised detox and rehabilitation and recovery processes - either evidence-based or alternative in nature.