What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl, the source of an increasing number of fatalities and overdoses, is a synthetic opioid first created in 1959 by Dr. Paul Janssen. Thanks to its powerful pain-relief, fentanyl quickly became a go-to option for anesthetic and pain-relieving needs in the medical field. Some of the more common fentanyl brand names are:
There are an abundancy of street names for fentanyl as well, including:
- Dance fever
- China girl
- Murder 8
When it comes to pain management, many individuals consider morphine to be the strongest option out there. In reality, Fentanyl is close to 100 times more powerful. It should come as no surprise, then, that the drug is used to help individuals suffering from severe, chronic pain. Cancer patients, for example, often find the medication to provide effective relief of the more painful side effects of chemotherapy.
When used for legitimate purposes, fentanyl has five common forms:
- Oral Tablet
- Oral Spray
When used illegally, fentanyl is perhaps most often found as manufactured tablets, spiked blotter paper, or powder. As with other opioids, fentanyl’s high is one of intense euphoria – a feeling that lures many into addiction before they even realize what is happening. It should be noted, in fact, that the drug is incredibly addictive – more addictive than morphine and heroin and is a common drug that leads to opioid use disorder.
Effects of Fentanyl Abuse
Fentanyl offers a wide array of side effects. Upon taking Fentynal, some of the more immediate symptoms that could potentially be experienced include euphoria, a reduced feeling of pain, and relaxation. Common short-term side effects include:
- Altered Heart Rate
Long-term side effects of fentanyl abuse include an increased risk for death and overdose, a breakdown in personal and professional relationships, an increased risk of anoxic injury, multiple organ damage, and the aggravation of labile moods or depression.
Causes of Fentanyl Abuse
There are many different factors when it comes to the causes of fentanyl abuse. Often, fentanyl abuse begins from is chronic pain treatment. Users become dependent upon the drug to help them function through the pain and live their lives. Eventually, they might ultimately be unable to function without it. A user’s home or work environment can increase their risks of abusing the drug, particularly if they experience significant stress, anxiety, and depression. Many individuals seek to treat these issues by turning to the euphoria and relaxation granted by fentanyl.
Common Co-occurring Disorders with Fentanyl Abuse
Many drug abusers have a secondary disorder that helps drive their addiction. This is known as a co-occurring. Some of the more common co-occurring disorders with fentanyl abuse include:
- Depressive Disorders
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- Anxiety Disorders
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
Because the drug induces feelings of relaxation and intense euphoria, fentanyl is common used by individuals struggling with depression or anxiety problems. The drug provides relief from these symptoms, if only for a short time, making it a popular choice.
Effects on Potency When Combined with Heroin and Cocaine
The combination of heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl is an extremely dangerous one that is commonly sought by recreational users in search of the “ultimate high”. This can be a lethal combination. The dangers of each of these drugs, which are significant even individually, are amplified when taken together. Much like mixing alcohol and benzos, the combination of fentanyl (which is 100 times more powerful than morphine), cocaine, and heroin can result in:
- Extreme Respiratory Depression
- The Disruption of Normal Cognitive Function
- Cardiovascular Complications
- Increased Confusion
- Increased Drowsiness
- Increased Disorientation
Fentanyl Overdose symptoms
Because fentanyl is extremely addictive, users might find themselves increasing their doses rapidly, quickly taking exorbitant amounts simply to feel “normal”. Overdoses are common with fentanyl abuse, and can be incredibly lethal. Some of the common symptoms of a fentanyl overdose include:
- Passing Out
- Slow Breathing
- Slurred Speech
- Poor Coordination
If you or a loved one experience any of the above after taking fentanyl, it is very important to seek professional medical help as quickly as possible. Failure to do so could increase the damage done by the overdose or result in death.
Drug overdoses are, in general, rising in the United States. Few drugs are more addictive and fatal than opioids, which attract thousands of individuals to abuse them every year. From 2014 to 2015 alone, for example, the death rate associated with synthetic opioids increased by more than 72.2%. This increase occurred in all regions and demographics across a wide variety of states. Fentanyl tops the number of deaths resulting from overdoses in the States that involved non-methadone synthetics and heroin.
Fentanyl Abuse Among Teens
Prescription drug use among adolescents is rising, with more teens than ever before abusing drugs in this category. The DEA reports that at least 1 out of 10 teenagers in the States used prescription medications, particularly pain medications, to get high at least once in the preceding year. Fentanyl is a particularly dangerous drug for teens to experiment with as small amounts can lead to a fatal overdose.
Signs & Symptoms of Fentanyl Abuse
Fentanyl abuse is characterized by a wide variety of signs and symptoms. Perhaps some of the most common include things like intense fatigue, the inability to speak clearly, a marked decrease in coordination, and a noticeable reduction in a patient’s ability to breathe effectively.
Fentanyl Withdrawal & Detox
As a synthetic opioid, fentanyl produces withdrawal and detox symptoms that are similar to other opioids. This can include things like:
- Runny Nose
- Pain in Muscles
- Pain in Joints
- Stomach Cramps
In order to help ensure that you detox safely, it is important to contact an established rehabilitation and detox center with experienced professionals who can help you through the process.