Confidential Contact Form
Fentanyl: Overdose, Symptoms, Side Effects & Withdrawal
The opioid epidemic in America is massive and fentanyl is one of the opioids that is causing the most damage. It can be lethal even in very small doses, so it’s important to know how to protect yourself from it.
In this blog post, we will discuss what it is, how it’s used, and how to avoid it. So please read on to learn more about this dangerous drug.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that possesses strong pain-relieving properties but has been abused as a recreational drug. It goes by the chemical name N-phenyl-N propenamide.
Because it is significantly more potent than morphine, it has been used medically as a painkiller. Its strength is higher than those of other illegal drugs like morphine and heroin. This makes it one of the deadliest in the United States.
The drug was first produced in 1959 by a Belgian doctor named Patrick Jensen. The drug is synthesized from the opium poppy which explains why its side effects are similar to that of other opioids. Its medical use in the United States was approved in 1968.
It is also distributed illegally on the streets. Street names include Apace, China Girl, China Town, China White, Dance Fever, Fake Oxy, Poison, Shady eighties, Eighties, Tango & Cash.
What Does Fentanyl Look Like?
It comes in different forms: powder, lozenge, film, sublingual and buccal tablet. On the street, It is consumed by smoking, swallowing tablets, injecting, and inhaling.
Its substance street variations are often mixed with other opioids that many users do not recognize. It is the mixture of these drugs that can lead to overdose.
What Is Fentanyl Used For?
Fentanyl’s main purpose was as a severe pain reliever. It was prescribed to those undergoing cancer, people who experience sudden, breakthrough pain, and those who had just gone through surgery.
Recent updates show that the drug is only prescribed to patients who experience extreme pain. It’s also for people who have developed a tolerance for narcotic pain medications.
The drug’s potency makes it attractive for users and street drug dealers because adding drugs like heroin or cocaine enhances its effects. Other reasons for the growing demand for the substance are its inexpensiveness and portability.
How Does Fentanyl Work?
This opioid works by altering the brain and nervous system’s response to a pain similar to other opium-based drugs.
As the drug enters the bloodstream, its components bind with its u-opioid receptors. This results in a sensation of euphoria and analgesia.
Its alteration works differently since the speed with which its opioid receptors bind is faster than even that of morphine and heroin. This is why it gives a higher level of euphoria.
How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System?
In an advanced drug test, it’s possible to detect this synthetic opioid in the system. Below is the average detection time of this substance in advanced drug tests:
- Urine – 24 to 72 hours
- Blood- less than 12 hours
- Hair – 90 days
What are the Short and Long-term Effects of Fentanyl?
Physical effects of ingesting the drug include back pain and bluish coloration around lips or under the fingernails. It can cause changes in heartbeat and vision, chest pain, cold skin, and difficulty urinating.
It can also lead to fever, gas, heartburn, irregular menstruation, itching and rash, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Users may also notice sores or irritation near the mouth in the area of medication. Rash, seizures, swelling of outer extremities (hands, arms, feet, ankles), and weight loss are other effects.
Behavioral symptoms are agitation, anxiety, decreased sexual desire, agitation, difficulty falling/staying asleep, extreme confusion, and uncontrollable shaking of the body. Mental effects are depression, anxiety, hallucinations, unusual dreams, and unusual thinking.
Is Fentanyl Addictive?
Fentanyl is a highly addictive and habit-forming substance, particularly after prolonged use. The United States National Institute on Drug Abuse has cautioned people against its potency and addictive potential.
Because of this, doctors do not use this opioid to treat those with a history of alcohol, substance abuse, depression, and mental illnesses.
Opioid addicts use this drug as a transition drug from prescription medications after developing a certain tolerance to it. Before developing a dependence on it, users unknowingly take pills with fentanyl ingredients that would eventually cause their addiction.
Over time, opioids become in demand for several reasons. Two of them are availability and cost.
At a cheaper price, users can satisfy their high easily since it is available at a street price. This is as opposed to purchasing pain medication that can be less affordable in drug stores and pharmaceutical companies.
Another reason for preferring this substance, as mentioned, is due to its ability to provide a satisfying potency to users’ addiction
What are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Fentanyl?
Withdrawal symptoms of Fentanyl occur in three stages. It is not recommended to cut out the drug from a user’s system all at once for it can cause severe withdrawal symptoms.
Mild symptoms are those experienced 12 to 30 hours after the last dose. You can experience muscle aches, runny nose, sweating, and insomnia that can last for 2 to 3 days. The second stage involves the peak stage of withdrawal that happens from the 3rd to the 5th day.
More severe symptoms are experienced physically including muscle and bone pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Psychological symptoms include anxiety, depression, and mood changes.
What Causes Fentanyl Overdose?
A small dose of this opioid (.25 milligram) can be fatal. Without a prescription, it can inflict serious harm due to its rapid effect and potency.
Do not underestimate the strength of the drug. Law enforcers who work with it have to wear protective suits to avoid accidental contaminations.
In many instances, a drug overdose occurs because users are unaware that the pills or powder they are taking contain this drug. Some street dealers mix the substance with heroin and other drugs sold on the street as counterfeit pills.
A fentanyl overdose can lead to respiratory depression and even death.
How Do You Treat Fentanyl Overdose?
Treatment for fentanyl depends on the amount of dosage taken. When an overdose occurs, it is treated as an emergency.
Emergency responders induce patients with naloxone to reverse the effects of a temporary overdose. Naloxone is a medication that works to block the short-term effects of opioids. It can relieve the victim of further damage from this dangerous drug.
Overdose symptoms recur after a few minutes. That’s why despite having applied naloxone, it is still crucial to bring patients to a hospital.
How Do You Treat Fentanyl Addiction? Detox & Treatment
Different modalities including medically assisted detox programs and therapy can address addiction.
Medically assisted detox programs help patients wean off from the substance. It involves a tapering method where doses are reduced gradually until the patient is drug-free. This is usually done under a doctor’s care to ensure safety.
Therapy can be in an outpatient or inpatient setting, whichever is more appropriate for the patients. It is important for patients to feel comfortable with their surroundings and the people they are with. This can help them open up about their addiction and start their journey to recovery.
Final Thoughts: Addressing Fentanyl Abuse and Addiction
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that has caused many overdoses and deaths due to its potency. It is important to be aware of the dangers of this substance.
If you or someone you know is struggling with abuse or addiction, please seek professional help. There are many resources available to those who need assistance.