Just like hydrocodone, methadone and Dilaudid, Fentanyl is also an opioid painkiller. It is usually used to treat severe pain that is resistant to other painkillers. It is a very potent drug so it is only prescribed when there is no other option left. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is classified as Schedule II Substance that means this drug has medicinal uses but is associated with extreme potential to develop abuse and addiction. There are a number of Americans addicted to opioid painkillers like Fentanyl. Statistics show that in 2015, over 9500 people died of drug overdose including Fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid painkiller chemically similar to meperidine, prescribed by the doctors for the treatment of pain produced due to cancer or other types of non-cancer severe physical injuries. It is an extremely addictive drug that produces euphoric high when taken in large amounts. Just like other schedule II Substances for example cocaine, Adderall, Vicodin and OxyContin, it is considered an extremely dangerous substance and is not prescribed unless there is a dire need. Fentanyl is available in a number of different formulations such as:
Fentanyl produces a sensation of euphoria and happiness so it is often abused by the users. Once the effects produced by it become known, patients tend to use it without any medical need. People also use it to get through emotional trauma or depression. The drug submerges them in a pool of euphoria and relaxation, taking the emotional pain away.
Apart from its medical forms, it is also often sold on the streets in powdered form that can be also be dissolved in water and injected. Fentanyl is often used to replace heroin since it produces similar pleasurable effects. Fentanyl is also mixed with cocaine and heroin by the dealers. There are a number of street names given to the Fentanyl including:
Fentanyl is only given to the patients who have developed tolerance for other opioids. The dosage and the frequency is strictly controlled by the doctor. Commonly, the drug is given as skin patch that provides a round the clock protection against pain. Fentanyl lozenge also called as Fentanyl lollypop and Fentanyl injections are also given. Fentanyl abuse is referred to a condition where the patient takes the drug in excessive amounts or more frequently than prescribed by the doctor. If there is a difficulty quitting the drug after there is no more medical need, it is an indication of development of addiction.
Fentanyl is a very potent drug so exceeding by even small amounts from the dose prescribed by the doctor can be deadly. The dosage amount for different patients varies depending upon the needs and genetic makeup of the patient. For some people, doses like 0.25 mg can be deadly. Usually 25 to 100 mcg of drug is given to the patient per hour. Even clinical use of Fentanyl is not safe from side effects. Users may experience following unpleasant symptoms:
Just like other opioids, Fentanyl is highly addictive. Even patients taking it for therapeutic purposes are at a risk of becoming addicted to it. The drug works in a way similar to heroin. It acts on the pleasure and reward centers of the brain and produces feeling of happiness, satisfaction and euphoria. These feelings can be extremely addictive for the patient forcing him to take the drug over and over again. Prolonged use of drug also produces tolerance so it takes high amounts of the drug to achieve same high. Tolerance is one of the earliest signs of addiction.
The potential of developing Fentanyl addiction increases when it is snorted in powdered form or injected intravenously. Combining it with other drugs can also be increase the risk of developing an addiction. Fentanyl addiction is very quick to develop. For some people, psychological dependence starts with the first use. However, it takes a number of uses to develop physical dependence. Even under medical supervision, there is a risk of developing addiction. So Fentanyl should not be used unless there is not any other option left.
Fentanyl is often used combined with other drugs to get a better high. It is most commonly combined with heroin and the combination is referred to as ‘bomb’ or ‘magic’ by the users. It is also combined with methamphetamine and cocaine in the powdered form. The potential of overdosing on Fentanyl increases when it is combined with other drugs. Even very small amounts of Fentanyl can result into an overdose.
Another risk factor associated with Fentanyl abuse is that it can often be mistakenly bought thinking it is heroin or any other opioid. So death is resulted when taken in amounts similar to heroin. Some symptoms associated with Fentanyl overdose may include:
Fentanyl overdose significantly decreases heart rate and respiration rate that may even cause death. Even if the patient survives overdose, permanent health damage is caused. For example, in case of respiratory depression, the oxygen supply to the brain maybe depressed to such a level that permanent brain damage is resulted.
Prescription painkiller addiction forms a major portion of all types of addictions in United States. There have been a number of cases where people died of opioid painkiller abuse. Opioid overdose has caused more deaths than cocaine and heroin overdose.
Fentanyl is a very dangerous drug so if a loved one is taking it for therapeutic purposes, make sure to keep an eye on them to keep them from overdosing or developing an addiction.