Fentanyl is one of the prescription opioid medications that is typically recommended for the treatment of pain conditions. However, it is similar to other addictive pain relief medications like methadone and hydrocodone in terms of its chemical structure.
It is used in the hospital setting for the treatment of severe pain among people who have developed tolerance to other prescription opioid medications. However, the drug is so potent that physicians often reserve it for use among surgical patients as well as those who are struggling with terminal cancer.
Abusing this drug is considered to be a risky action. This is because it can lead to the development of a fatal drug overdose that could claim your life. If you are addicted to fentanyl, you should seek help from a professional addiction treatment and rehabilitation program. Read on to find out more:
Fentanyl is classified as a synthetic pharmaceutical medication that is used for the relief of pain. Since, it is 50 to 100 times as potent as morphine, doctors only prescribe it for the relief of severe pain - such as that you would experience while undergoing treatment for cancer or after having been through a surgical procedure. The drug is also prescribed for the relief of breakthrough pain when you experience a flare-up of intense pain while on round the clock narcotic treatment.
Since it is an opioid drug, fentanyl comes with a high risk of substance abuse and addiction. This is particularly true because the drug is so strong and since it produces effects that are similar to what you would experience if you abused heroin.
The medication is also considered to be a dangerous substance. This is particularly true if you take it without first having developed high tolerance to other opioids. On the other hand, if you mix fentanyl with other narcotics like cocaine and heroin, there is a high risk that you could amplify its damaging effects.
Intentionally abusing fentanyl could lead to many other adverse outcomes. However, you may take it without your knowledge - especially if you buy other drugs like counterfeit prescription pills and heroin laced with fentanyl.
In any case, you should always remember that using this drug could increase your risk of overdose death. This is not surprising especially when you consider data released by the NVSS - the National Vital Statistics System - showing that more than 50 percent of all the overdose deaths linked to opioids that were reported in 2016 involved fentanyl.
That said, the prescription version of this medication includes the following forms:
- Buccal tablets that you need to place between the gums and cheek (Fentora)
- Films that you should place inside your cheek (Onsolis)
- Injections that are administered by physicians (Sublimaze)
- Lozenges that should be placed in between the gums and the cheek (Actiq)
- Patches that you place on the skin (known as Duragesic)
- Sublingual tablets that are placed under the tongue (known as Abstral)
Other Names for Fentanyl
Fentanyl is typically manufactured by various pharmaceutical companies. This form of the drug can be prescribed legally under the following formulations and brand names:
- Fentanyl citrate
There are also some non-pharmaceutical versions of fentanyl that exist illegally. They are often referred by a wide variety of street names, including but not limited to:
- China girl
- China white
- Dance fever
- Drop dead
- Murder 8
- Serial killer
Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction
If you have been abusing this drug, there is a high probability that you will start displaying some of the common signs and symptoms of fentanyl use and addiction. These include but are not limited to:
- Abnormally small or constricted pupils
- Damaged relationships
- Discarded fentanyl packaging and patches
- Dramatic mood swings
- Empty plastic bags
- Evident euphoria
- Extremely tiredness
- Falling asleep
- Financial problems
- Flushed face
- Glass vials
- Losing consciousness
- Nodding out
- Noticeable drowsiness
- Peaceful feelings
- Pieces of foil
- Reduced productivity at school or at work
- Slowed respiration
- Social isolation
- Spoons found in odd locations
- Struggling to remain awake
- Torn and punctured patches
- Used blotter paper
- Visiting multiple doctors (doctor shopping) or pharmacies to so that you can get more than one prescription for fentanyl
Abusing the drug could also lead to the development of tolerance and dependence. Over time, these effects will cause you to become addicted to fentanyl. Whether you are dependent or addicted, however, your primary goal will be to acquire and abuse this drug.
Short and Long-Term Effects of Fentanyl Abuse
When you take fentanyl, it will increase the levels of dopamine in your brain. Additionally, the drug can also block the perceptions of pain that you may be feeling. Other effects of abusing it include but are not limited to:
- Blurred vision
- Constricted pupils
- Decreased heart rate
- Difficulties concentrating
- Dry mouth
- Pain relief
- Rigid muscles
- Slowed respiration
- Stiff muscles
- Tight feeling in your throat
- Trouble thinking
- Fentanyl Overdose
If you take fentanyl in high doses - or misuse it without a valid and legal prescription, there is a high risk that you could suffer an adverse drug overdose. This could be accompanied by the following signs and symptoms of overdose reported by the NLM - the National Library of Medicine:
- Cold and clammy skin
- Feeling confused or dizzy
- Low body temperature
- Severe sleepiness
- Shallow and slow breathing
- Slow heartbeat
- Trouble breathing
- Trouble talking
- Trouble walking
If you are suffering a fentanyl overdose, you need to reach out for emergency medical assistance as soon as possible. On the other hand, if you notice someone experiencing an overdose, you should administer naloxone (if you have it) and perform rescue breathing as you wait for the emergency first responders to arrive.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
In case you are addicted to fentanyl and you suddenly stop taking it, there is a high risk that you could suffer some adverse withdrawal symptoms. It is for this reason that you need to for medically managed detox services to ensure that you do not experience too many of symptoms such as:
- A runny nose
- Abdominal cramping
- Body aches
- Cold and hot flashes
- Difficulty sleeping
- Dilated pupils
- Goosebumps on the skin
- Large pupils
- Runny nose
- Severe generalized pain
- Watery eyes
These withdrawal symptoms arise because you would have developed tolerance to the drug. This effectively means that you will have to abuse it in higher doses or more frequently than you used to before you can experience its pleasurable effects. Failure to do this will lead to fentanyl withdrawal.
The Best Options for Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
Addiction treatment for fentanyl often follows the same process that you would need to undertake if you were abusing any other opioid. After going through an initial assessment and evaluation to determine the extent and severity of your addiction - and the existence of any other co-occurring medical and mental health disorders - the treatment program will provide you with medically managed detox services.
The fentanyl detox process tends to be more intense than other approaches used to deal with other opioid use disorders. This is because there is a high risk that you could suffer some severe symptoms of withdrawal once you give this drug up.
Often, the addiction treatment professionals may help you ease your withdrawal symptoms using such medications as Suboxone (buprenorphine) and methadone. Further, you will be monitored around the clock to ensure that you do not suffer any other adverse effects.
After going through a medically managed detox process, you need to follow it up with inpatient or residential addiction treatment. It is recommended that you spend at least 30 days in such a program to ensure that you start witnessing positive changes in your recovery.
According to SAMHSA - the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - most people who are addicted to fentanyl could benefit from staying in an inpatient center for the long term. This means that you may want to spend over 90 days in such a program to ensure that you completely overcome your fentanyl abuse and addiction.
If you have been abusing fentanyl or are already dependent on it, you should seek addiction treatment and rehabilitation services as soon as possible - if only to save your life from a potentially fatal overdose.