Fentanyl is a powerful prescription drug that is used to manage pain. This synthetic opiate analgesic is prescribed to people who have just had surgery or who suffer from chronic pain. It may also be given to people who have demonstrated tolerance to other opiates. Fentanyl is similar to morphine but is about 80 times more potent.
The Dangers of Fentanyl Abuse
The U.S. Department of Justice classifies Fentanyl as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high tendency for abuse. This prescription drug has not received as much focus has other painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet, but it is just as dangerous. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, illicit use of Fentanyl has been a problem since the mid-1970s.
In prescription form, Fentanyl is sold under the names Actiq, Sublimaze, Isntanyl and Duragesic. On the street, it is referred to by a variety of names including Apache, China White, China Girl, Apache, Friend, Dance Fever, TNT, Murder 8, Tango and Cash. The street form of Fentanyl is often produced in clandestine labs and mixed with other drugs like heroin or cocaine. The biological effects of street versions of Fentanyl are indistinguishable from heroin, but they may be hundreds of times more potent. Fentanyl is addictive and deadly.
Recently the drug has become known as “shug” perhaps due to the sweet smell of the product when it is crushed and smoked (due to the sugar it is mixed with).
Patients who receive a prescription for Fentanyl should not share it with anyone else. The drug is not safe for people with breathing disorders, head injuries, heart rhythm disorders, a history of seizures, depression, or liver or kidney disease. It should not be taken by anyone with a history of alcohol or drug addiction.
Effects of Fentanyl
When taken under doctor supervision, Fentanyl is administered by trans-dermal patch, injection or orally via a lozenge or sucker. Because of the danger of abuse and addiction, it should always be taken in prescribed doses. Fentanyl provides relief from pain by binding with opiate receptors in the brain, resulting in increased dopamine production. This creates feelings of relaxation and euphoria. These changes to the brain cause users to become increasingly dependent on the drug. Long term use diminishes the ability to find pleasure in activities that were previously pleasurable.
In addition to increased euphoria, these are some of the side effects of Fentanyl:
– Impaired Reactions
– Respiratory Depression or Arrest
– Loss of Consciousness
Fentanyl overdose is possible if a larger dose than prescribed is taken or if it is combined with other narcotic drugs. Symptoms of overdose include slowed breathing, drowsiness, lack of response and coma.
Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction
People who have become addicted to Fentanyl have a compulsive need for the drug. Once addicted, it is difficult for a Fentanyl abuser to stop using the drug without medical assistance and therapy. An opiate antagonist, which is a drug that blocks the effects of opiates, is often prescribed. Once detoxification has been completed, recovery from Fentanyl addiction is possible with long term abstinence and follow-up treatment.