Fentanyl is thus a very powerful drug, and for that reason, it also has a considerable likelihood of abuse. Like any drug that can be abused, abrupt cessation can cause severe and painful effects. Fentanyl withdrawal is a serious problem that endangers patients whose long-lasting pain drove them to addiction.
What Is Fentanyl?
To understand the effects of fentanyl on the body, we need to understand the drug’s effects on the brain – and for that, we need to understand what fentanyl is. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that fentanyl is a “powerful synthetic opiate analgesic.” It bears some similarity to morphine, in that it is an opiate. When administered, a patient feels a rush of euphoria before this settles down into an intensely calmed, relaxed state. As the electrical signals sent out by the brain are artificially dulled by the drug attaching itself to the brain’s natural receptors, other effects may include:
- Reduced breathing and heart rate
- Slurred speech
- Impaired focus and concentration,
- Difficulty staying awake
The New Zealand Drug Foundation describes the sensation as “psychologically addicting.”
The “analgesic” comes from the opiate’s properties of being a potent painkiller. Fentanyl is thus prescribed to patients who endure chronic, unrelenting pain, or patients who are experiencing physical discomfort following surgery.