Fentanyl has a high potency and produces rapid effects which are much more potent than heroin or morphine. The characteristics that make it a popular drug of abuse among opioid addicts make it a hot commodity for illegal drug traffickers.
The synthetic opioid "fentanyl" is rapidly infesting the United States, in turn becoming one of the country's leading killers. The drug itself isn't cutting-edge; in fact, it's been around for over fifty years.
It's easy to produce, inexpensive to synthesize, and, most importantly – extremely potent. Fentanyl is so extreme that it can be easily absorbed through the skin or accidentally inhaled at even trace levels.
Furthermore, let's learn in-depth about the signs of fentanyl overdose and abuse in this article.
Table Of Contents
- What is Fentanyl?
- What Is Fentanyl Used For?
- What Does Fentanyl Taste Like?
- What Does Fentanyl Look Like?
- What Does Fentanyl Feel Like?
- Why Is Fentanyl So Dangerous?
- Can Fentanyl Kill You?
- How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Urine?
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a prescription opioid, similar to morphine and oxycodone, used to treat extreme pain associated with cancer. Fentanyl is also sometimes used as part of anesthesia for surgery. It is very powerful, 100 times more potent than morphine, 50 times that of heroin, and 20 times stronger than fentanyl's less potent counterpart – 'sufentanyl.'
Fentanyl can be taken in oral form or administered via patches or injections where it causes the body to produce its natural opioids. Often, fentanyl is abused by individuals trying to induce the euphoria associated with an opioid high.
The DEA lists fentanyl as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it is highly likely to cause abuse and dependence. As per studies, fentanyl is one of the most addictive drugs, next to 6-MAM and cocaine.
In addition, the drug has been reported as being 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl has been on the DEA's watch-list for many years. Law enforcement agencies have been struggling with controlling the manufacturing and distribution of fentanyl and its analogs for a long time now.
For this drug, it is essential to note that fentanyl is easy to produce and manufacture, leading to its rampant production and distribution around the globe. Fentanyl is easy to detect by law enforcement agents because it is very potent, and only a few milligrams can lead to an overdose.
As a synthetic opioid, fentanyl acts on the brain by changing how the body feels and responds to pain.
Is Fentanyl FDA Approved?
It is essential to note that fentanyl is only approved for the treatment of opioid overdoses. It's not allowed to be used by patients for its intended purpose. It can only be used in cases where there have been other opioid drugs administered before the pharmacist has to administer the drug.
Furthermore, to use fentanyl to treat a patient's pain, the doctor will also have to prescribe it in a controlled amount.
What Is Fentanyl Used For?
Fentanyl is most commonly used to induce pain to help a patient cope with intense pain. In addition, it is also used as a replacement to morphine and other opioid analgesics for those suffering from severe forms of pain, including those undergoing cancer treatments or who have extreme conditions.
However, this isn't the only condition where fentanyl is used. Fentanyl has been used to treat people who suffer from severe and chronic pain such as post-surgical pain, ongoing cancer pain, and other conditions that cause long-term chronic pain.
How Should This Medicine Be Used?
In that case, fentanyl is given in a controlled dose. A Schedule II drug requires a prescription from a doctor and must be dispensed through a controlled delivery system such as patches or an injection.
To prevent abuse of fentanyl, the dose must be carefully monitored by the person being treated. A common way to administer fentanyl is by using its transdermal patch. It's also possible to take it in the form of an injection or via the powdered form for oral administration.
To control pain, fentanyl is usually administered in a controlled dose that the prescribing physician specifies. You should store it in a cool and dry place where it's unlikely to freeze.
Furthermore, it should be stored at 25°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F). Once the medicine is out of its container, it must be taken immediately by prescription. Otherwise, if taken by accident or abused by this drug, you may experience severe side effects, including respiratory arrest and possibly death.
What Does Fentanyl Taste Like?
Fentanyl has no taste of its own. However, when taken in excessive doses, it becomes bitter to taste. The bitter taste can last for a couple of minutes before it disappears completely. While some users, especially those addicted to fentanyl, have reported that the drug has a faint resemblance to vinegar.
What Does Fentanyl Look Like?
As mentioned earlier, the most common type of fentanyl is a long-acting pain killer delivered in a transdermal patch or by injection. These forms of fentanyl are prescribed for a limited time, usually a few days.
These forms of fentanyl come in a patch that is usually around 12cm long and 2cm wide. The patches can be placed on the skin and can be removed after a specific time period. When placed on the skin, the patches' sites become very sensitive to touch initially.
However, with continued use, patients become accustomed to it and also feel less sensitive towards it. It also comes as an oral solution for patients who may not be able to tolerate taking pills.
The pills are also called soluble fentanyl. It comes in different strengths, ranging from 2mgs to 5mgs for each dose. Like most other forms of fentanyl, these oral solutions are also taken orally, usually after being dissolved in water or sugar into a liquid.
A powdered version of fentanyl is another form used for oral solution, but it's rare to come across this form. Whereas, in terms of color, fentanyl is usually white or sometimes brown.
What Does Fentanyl Feel Like?
The effect of fentanyl on the brain is very intense. The high can last for about 3-4 hours, even though it may vary depending on the mode of administration. Fentanyl is often compared to heroin addiction, but this is not the only drug that can be compared.
If anything, fentanyl is more like heroin than it is like morphine. Most of the time, people addicted to heroin will experience more severe side effects than they would with fentanyl. However, some general side effects of fentanyl are Nausea, Stomach pain, Confusion, Anxiety, nervousness, restlessness, Drowsiness, and slowness in movement.
In addition, fentanyl may cause chronic pain when used long-term. So if you have been using this drug for a few years already, there is a strong possibility that you may experience addiction. Moreover, this medication is highly fast-acting.
It's estimated that fentanyl can start to take effect within seconds after it has been injected. However, this drug is highly toxic and has many side effects. Several users have reported feeling pain in their arms, back, chest and stomach when using fentanyl. Some individuals have also said that they feel nauseous, confused, or dizzy when taking the drug.
Why Is Fentanyl So Dangerous?
The dangers of fentanyl are not very well known compared to the other types of opioids. However, this doesn't mean that it is less dangerous than the other drugs. Fentanyl is still very dangerous to those who use it for recreational purposes.
The high effect of fentanyl on the brain has a lot to do with its ability to bind itself to opioid receptors in your brain. The results of this binding can slow down breathing and sedate a person immediately.
The person will also experience significant relief from pain as the drug takes full effect on the brain. It is the most dangerous effect of fentanyl on the brain. Once administered, fentanyl can immediately cause respiratory arrest and death if taken in massive amounts.
In addition to being dangerous, fentanyl has a powerful effect on the central nervous system. It's often called a "black curtain," with many users reporting being unable to open their eyes for a few minutes after taking the drug.
If you have been taking fentanyl or any other opioid for that matter, it is recommended that you stop using the drug immediately. Fentanyl's effects on the brain are hazardous, especially when taken in large doses.
It is highly recommended that patients with chronic pain are only administered specific amounts of this drug.
How Does Fentanyl Kill You?
Fentanyl overdose is the number one cause of death from prescription painkillers. Fentanyl overdose deaths are rising at an alarming rate. According to records, more than half of the 18,816 opioid painkiller overdoses in 2011 were related to fentanyl.
Fentanyl is the most dangerous opioid available. Fentanyl is dangerous because it is very potent. Even if you're injecting the drug, injecting too much can lead to an overdose. An overdose occurs when there are too many active fentanyl molecules in the bloodstream, which makes it difficult for other chemicals in the body to operate correctly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fentanyl causes severe respiratory depression, fatal if not treated immediately. Often, fentanyl is used intravenously, which means it is directly injected into the bloodstream.
The effects of fentanyl occur almost immediately. However, when this drug overdoses, it can take several minutes for the respiratory system to start working again once it's stopped. As mentioned earlier, fentanyl has many side effects, including severe sodium and water retention leading to pulmonary edema or swelling of the lungs.
This condition is life-threatening as it can cause shortness of breath or even heart failure. The risk of addiction is something that needs to be considered by a patient while taking this medication.
When someone overdoses on fentanyl, it's usually seen that the patient goes into respiratory depression or slows down breathing to a point where breathing stops entirely. In a case like this, when someone's brain cannot get the right amount of oxygen, they suffer from impaired consciousness or may even become unconscious.
Therefore, it is hazardous for your body to use this drug after taking the first dose for a long time.
Can Fentanyl Lead To Addiction?
Yes, this is a question that people frequently ask. Fentanyl overdose can lead to long-term addiction. In addition, it is also reported that fentanyl addiction has been on the rise in recent years.
There are a lot of reasons for people to feel compelled to use fentanyl. Fentanyl is a powerful drug that works very quickly and results in a euphoric high. Anyone who uses this drug has a high chance of becoming addicted – especially if they have been using opioids for a long time already.
People addicted to fentanyl who stop using the drug will also show signs of withdrawal. The symptoms associated with fentanyl withdrawal may include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, muscle aches, diarrhea, and fatigue.
It is important to note that these symptoms will usually lessen as time passes. The actual withdrawal period can last for about seven to ten days after discontinuing the drug. The high dose and short-term effects of fentanyl make it a hazardous drug to use often or for an extended period of time.
If you are using fentanyl, it's best to get help before it becomes too late. Free yourself from addiction right away.
How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Urine?
Fentanyl can stay in urine for up to 24-72 hours. The amount of time that fentanyl stays in urine depends on several things, including what method was used to take the drug (i.e., smoking or injecting), how much of the drug was taken, how long the person has been on the drug, the frequency of use, among other things.
For rapid metabolizers, fentanyl can be detected in urine for up to 12 hours after consuming it. On the other hand, a slow metabolizer can detect fentanyl in urine for as much as 72 hours after taking it.
Furthermore, the effects of fentanyl on urine are not apparent for some people. People can feel fine when the drug is still in their system, but eventually, they will notice some side effects.
Fentanyl is one of the most potent opioids that you can find on the market today. It is hazardous and addictive. If you're taking fentanyl, you must use it responsibly and in moderation.
Always consult with your doctor to see if the drug will be safe to use before consuming any amount of it. It is strongly advised to avoid taking fentanyl altogether if possible because its side effects and withdrawal symptoms can be terrible and difficult to deal with.
However, if you have already developed a dependence on the drug, you should get help immediately. There are detox centers that can help you rid yourself of your addiction to fentanyl. You can also seek the help of a drug rehab center to ensure that you won't ever go back to using this drug again.
Therefore, if you are taking fentanyl, you should be aware of its side effects to monitor yourself constantly. If any of the withdrawal symptoms start to appear, discontinue using the drug immediately.
How can fentanyl overdose occur?
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, fentanyl overdose mainly occurs when street drugs are taken in combination with alcohol or other sedatives. Fentanyl is usually found in black tar, a type of heroin cut with various drugs related to fentanyl, such as acetyl fentanyl and parafinoid.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine also further explains that fentanyl overdose rarely occurs from a single intravenous injection. In the case of a single IV injection, a person typically overdoses if they inject too much of the drug.
What is the correct dose of fentanyl?
There are no specific guidelines for using fentanyl – but it is best to follow your doctor's instructions as much as possible. Moreover, you should consult with your doctor about the proper dosage to use and how often it's best to take this medication.
Is fentanyl legal?
Fentanyl is a very potent and addictive drug only available for patients with chronic and severe pain. Despite its benefits, it can also cause respiratory depression and death when used without the guidance of a doctor.
As such, fentanyl is strictly illegal for anyone who does not have a prescription for it.
Are there other fentanyl substitutes?
The U.S. National Library of Medicine gives us several fentanyl alternatives. These include: alfentanil, sufentanil, remifentanil, lofentanil and encainide. However, these drugs are only meant to be used in the case of severe pain when no other medication is available.
These drugs are not approved for non-medical use in people who are not suffering from chronic pain because they can cause side effects that are dangerous to your health.
What is fentanyl made of?
As mentioned earlier, fentanyl is synthetic. It means that it's not a natural compound you can find in nature – it has been produced by a chemist or a laboratory. The drug is a medication that has been designed to treat very severe cases of pain – particularly for patients who have cancer, AIDS, and other terminal illnesses.