Fentanyl Drug Facts: Usage and Safety Guide Published June 01, 2021 By Addiction Helpline America

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Fentanyl Drug Facts: Usage and Safety Guide

Opioids are well known for their ability to relieve acute and chronic pain. These are not traditional pain relievers, but drugs that can only be bought with a prescription. Such precaution measures are driven by the fact they are addictive and popular in the illegal market worldwide.

Opioids are often associated with Morphine - one of the most potent opioids. However, there is a drug that has a greater effect and that is Fentanyl. Here's everything you need to know about this medicine, its use cases, and safety measures.

Fentanyl: What Is It and Where It Is Used in Medicine

Fentanyl is an opioid used in anesthesiology. The onset of action of this substance begins after 1-2 minutes. The maximum effect occurs already in 5 minutes after intake.

Every patient should know that this type of opioid is 100 times stronger than Morphine. If we talk about this substance, not in the context of anesthesiology, then it can be prescribed to patients in the form of tablets, nasal spray, fentanyl patches, or lozenges.

Because of such a strength, this drug is sometimes used and manufactured illegally. A person can purchase this drug only with a doctor's prescription since with prolonged and improper use, a person gets drug intoxication and addiction.

How Do People Use This Drug Today?

This drug is usually prescribed for pain relief. Keep in mind that this is not the usual pain reliever that is used to relieve toothache, headache, and after-surgery pain. To eliminate these kinds of pain, it is necessary to use safer pain relievers that the physician will prescribe.

This drug is prescribed to patients who have previously prescribed opioids and have a tolerance to the previous drug. It is a drug for people who suffer from acute and chronic pain, such as cancer pain.

Within the illegal framework, this substance is used to enhance the effect of narcotics. For example, adding this substance to heroin allows "manufacturers" to increase the amount of the final product, let its users achieve a quick effect but to use less heroin.

This significantly reduces the cost of production and increases the volume of final products. However, adding this synthetic opioid to illegal substances greatly increases the risk of getting overdosed with it. Like there is no safe heroin dosage, there is no safe fentanyl dosage as well. When mixed together, they make a deadly combination. Most overdose deaths from this drug are associated with an illegal sale.

How Does This Drug Affect the Brain?

Opioid drugs affect opioid receptors that control emotions and pain. Simply put, the drug can affect the brain in such a way that a person stops responding to pain. Repeated intake of the drug causes the body to adapt, which reduces the effect.

Short Term Effect of the Drug

Usually, this drug has an analgesic effect on the human body. However, even short-term use of the drug can lead not only to an analgesic effect. Some users report the following conditions after Fentanyl intake:

  • Feeling of euphoria and relaxation of the nervous system.
  • Sleepy state that can last all day.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and constipation.
  • Suppression of the immune system.
  • Respiratory depression.
  • Side Effects of Long-Term Use of the Drug

    With prolonged use of the drug, the number of side effects and their severity becomes much greater. The main effects that occur with prolonged use include :

  • Pain syndrome, most often in the joints.
  • Increased irritability and depression.
  • Increased feeling of anxiety and insomnia.
  • Developing feelings of unwarranted fear and hostile behavior.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Increased lacrimation and the appearance of a runny nose.
  • Diarrhea after prolonged constipation.
  • Increased body temperature or dance fever.
  • These symptoms may appear after prolonged use of the drug. Also, one of the most dangerous symptoms is that a person feels the need to take the drug. Craving for medication is an alarming sign that can signal the development of drug addiction. This becomes dangerous for patients, as the pain can begin to return and the urge to use the opioid over and over again arises.

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    Is It Possible to Overdose on Fentanyl?

    Long-term use of this drug and its abuse (increasing the dosage on your own) can lead to the development of addiction and increase the likelihood of getting overdosed. Unfortunately, this substance is a popular drug both on legal and illegal markets, so its use, even for therapeutic purposes, can lead to the development of addiction. Long-term use leads to the fact that the body and the brain adapt to the substance, which does not bring the desired effect.

    So, with prolonged use of this drug, the pain relief effect may weaken. This causes the desire to increase the dosage and get the usual effect. Unfortunately, this is where a risk of a Fentanyl overdose drives from. Below are its symptoms:

  • Relaxation of muscles.
  • Dizziness and confusion.
  • Sleepiness throughout the day.
  • The slowdown of heart activity and low blood pressure.
  • Slowing down breathing.
  • Blue lips and nails.
  • An overdose of the drug can be fatal. Therefore, for any symptoms, ranging from dizziness, you should immediately consult a doctor. Even a weak side effect indicates that a negative impact on the body begins, which can lead to more serious consequences. If more dangerous symptoms are found, you must immediately call an ambulance to get help.

    How to Treat a Fentanyl Overdose?

    As mentioned above, if you find symptoms that indicate an opioid overdose, you should immediately consult a doctor. Only a doctor can prescribe a treatment and take the necessary measures. Do not ignore even the slightest side effects.

    If we talk about more dangerous symptoms, then you need to get medical help immediately as well since the speed of getting medical help may be the difference between life and death.

    Can This Drug Use Lead to Addiction?

    As mentioned earlier, this drug is strongly addictive. Treatment of this addiction requires professional help, as subsequent use of the drug can lead to an overdose. Every patient should understand that overdose can be fatal.

    In the framework of United States statistics only, more than 36,000 people died from opioid overdose in 2019. For this reason, if any side effects occur, you should immediately seek medical help.

    The Fentanyl Addiction Treated: Where to Start?

    If a person feels psychological and physical dependence, then it is necessary to immediately inform the doctor about it. Abrupt canceling of the drug can lead to negative consequences and the development of withdrawal symptoms.

    It is significant to understand that the treatment of addiction on this drug requires specialized assistance, not only physical but also psychological. Seeking help from specialized rehabilitation centers will allow you to get rid of addiction and cleanse the body. Moreover, rehabilitation will help eliminate psychological problems and help you return to normal social life.

    Usually, doctors prescribe a dosage reduction regimen of the drug, which takes place under the strict supervision of doctors to monitor the state of health and the response of the body to dosage change. Sometimes detoxification and supportive therapy may be required to restore normal functioning and condition of all organs.

    Points to Remember about This Drug

    Each physician must provide his patient with an up-to-date fact sheet. Hence, every patient who is going to use this drug or is already using it should know about important things regarding this medication:

  • You cannot buy this drug from online pharmacies. This medication can only be purchased with a doctor's prescription. There is an illegal turnover of this substance and illegal production on the market. Therefore, it is vital to be sure that you do not intake a fake.
  • This product is not intended to relieve common pain. This drug is prescribed when other opioid drugs are not working.
  • Long-term use of the drug leads to addiction. You can not independently increase the dosage or duration of the intake.
  • You shouldn't change the manufacturer of the medication yourself. Also, you can not change the form of the drug. All of these decisions can only be made after consulting your doctor.
  • It is recommended to follow a specialized diet. The daily diet should include plenty of fluids and fiber. This will avoid constipation, which is often a side effect of the drug. If you experience constipation for more than 3-5 days, you need to contact your doctor and get a recommendation for a laxative you can intake while on Fentanyl therapy.
  • The use of this drug is contraindicated to intake with other medicines. Be sure to get a reminder from your doctor which medications are prohibited while Fentanyl intake.
  • It is forbidden to consume alcohol during therapy.
  • Avoid potentially traumatic work and driving any vehicles when treated with Fentanyl. The drug affects the central nervous system and can cause dizziness, hallucinations, and disorientation.
  • Monitor your health condition. If you experience any side effects, you should inform your doctor about it.
  • Make sure the drug is out of the reach of children. Also, make sure that no one except you is using this medication.
  • You should not stop taking this drug on your own. Abrupt withdrawal of the drug may lead to side effects. The doctor will create a safe drug withdrawal regimen.
  • Conclusion

    Fentanyl is an effective medicine in anesthesiology use cases. It also might be effective for pain that is impossible to treat with any other painkillers or opioids. But its strong addiction-provoking potential, severe side effects, and sometimes illegal turnover explain the necessity to be quite careful with this drug and use it only as recommended by the doctor in quite severe medical cases.

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