Although manufactured and distributed as a legal drug, Fentanyl still comes with high risks if not used in the intended and prescribed way. Its appeal as a recreational drug is well-documented, with statistics showing a growing number of fatalities. Therefore, it is helpful to learn more about Fentanyl to understand what makes this drug so appealing for off-label use and what makes its use so high risk.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid known by a variety of street names. They include Apache, China Girl, China Town, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfellas, Great Bear, He-Man, Jackpot, King Ivory,
Murder 8, and Tango & Cash. In pharmaceutical products, its forms are oral lozenges, sublingual tablets, nasal sprays, and injectable formulas. Counterfeit tablets and powders are common forms of unauthorized versions of the drug.
Fentanyl has been in use for more than six decades. It was first introduced as an intravenous anesthetic. Since then, it’s been commonly prescribed to treat pain related to injuries, surgical procedures, and chronic conditions.
How Does Fentanyl Affect the Body?
Its potency is remarkable: 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. Its effects are immediate, too. Someone taking or being administered Fentanyl will feel relaxed with a sense of euphoria. Like other opioids, its impact on the body can appear in a variety of forms.
Fentanyl’s Effect on the Body
- Pain relief
- Urinary retention
- Pupillary constriction
- Respiratory depression
Fentanyl and Substance Misuse
Legally prescribed Fentanyl can be misused for recreational purposes. Also, unlawful versions of the drug can be added to other substances, increasing their potency and risk of addiction or overdose. These versions may be sold with other prescription pills or heroin. People misusing the drug may inject, snort, sniff, smoke, or take it orally. Fentanyl patches can be abused when the gel contents are removed to be ingested or injected. Other forms of misuse are freezing patches to cut them into pieces and placing them inside the cheeks or under the tongue.
What are Fentanyl’s Overdose Effects?
Signs of a Fentanyl overdose are apparent in a person’s near unconsciousness. Their pupils may change in size, and skin can become cold, clammy, and discolored. More serious overdose symptoms include respiratory failure, coma, and death.
Can You Tell if Another Drug Has Been Spiked with Fentanyl?
It’s impossible to tell if Fentanyl has been mixed with another drug without having test strips on hand. This becomes especially difficult when purchased on the street. In many cases, the amount of the opioid added is potentially lethal as it takes only a very small amount of Fentanyl to cause an overdose. A person ingesting the drug who’s unaware of what it actually contains may begin to experience unexpected symptoms without knowing the heightened medical risks they face.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline
Opioid withdrawal can begin within 12-30 hours of the last dose. Fentanyl, specifically in patch form, will have effects that increase over the first 24 hours and can last up to 72 hours, with withdrawal starting a day after removing the patch. As the drug leaves the blood system, a person may notice physical symptoms starting to appear. Within a week, symptoms begin to level off.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
- Tearing up
- Runny nose
- Stomach cramps
- Pain in joints and/or muscles
- Body hair standing on end or bristling
- Muscle weakness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Elevated heart rate
- Increased respiratory rate
- Pupil dilation
Is Quitting Fentanyl on Your Own Safe?
The desire to quit using Fentanyl is a positive start but quitting it abruptly can lead to medical risks. Tapering the amount used is a safer approach. The timeline for ending use of the drug can vary from person to person based on the length of time taking it, level of dependence, use of other drugs, and any co-occurring mental health disorders. To help manage ending Fentanyl use, a person may be administered a different opioid, such as Suboxone, with a tapered reduction of the replacement substance.
Restored Path’s Solution
Restored Path Detox is DFW’s premier location for sophisticated medical detox. Conveniently located in Frisco, we provide a safe sanctuary for healing that is also a state-of-the-art detoxification facility for a wide range of substances. Our compassionate physicians and therapists want you to get well and are committed to removing any existing barriers to your care. Restored Path’s team of board-certified physicians and highly qualified RNs have extensive critical care experience and are available to monitor your detox program 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you or a loved one are struggling with drug or alcohol use, call us today and take your first step towards recovery: 561-841-1268.