What Does Fentanyl Do and How It Is Abused?

What Does Fentanyl Do?

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is renowned for its potent pain-relieving properties, often used to manage severe pain, especially in medical settings. However, beyond its legitimate medical applications, fentanyl’s abuse potential has led to a concerning rise in opioid-related fatalities worldwide.

Understanding what it does entails examining its mechanism of action in the body and the various ways it’s abused, from illicit manufacturing to misuse in prescription form, shedding light on the complexities of the opioid crisis and the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to address it.

Our Fentanyl Addiction Detox Centers

Turn the page on fentanyl addiction. Discover treatment solutions here!

Different Forms of Fentanyl

It is available in various forms, each with unique characteristics and administration methods. Understanding these different forms is crucial for healthcare professionals, law enforcement agencies, and the public to effectively combat the opioid crisis and prevent misuse.

  • Pharmaceutical medications: Prescribed by doctors, help manage severe pain, like in cancer treatment or surgery, and come in patches, tablets, or injections for controlled relief.
  • Illicitly Manufactured Fentanyl: IMF is mixed with other drugs to increase potency, posing a high risk of overdose and contributing to the opioid epidemic.
  • Fentanyl analogs: Modified to evade legal restrictions and enhance potency, present challenges for law enforcement and healthcare professionals due to their unpredictable effects and potential harm.
  • Transdermal patches: Slowly release medication through the skin over several days, providing long-lasting pain relief often for chronic conditions.
  • Sublingual tablets: Placed under the tongue offer rapid pain relief, particularly for breakthrough pain in patients already on continuous opioid therapy, requiring careful dosing to prevent adverse effects.
  • Nasal sprays: Like Subsys, administered via a nasal applicator for quick pain relief, carry a risk of addiction and overdose if misused, underscoring the importance of proper prescribing and monitoring by healthcare providers.

What Does Fentanyl Do to Your Body?

A potent synthetic opioid, interacts with opioid receptors in the brain and body, resulting in powerful analgesic effects. Understanding what fentanyl does to the body is essential for recognizing its therapeutic benefits as well as its potential for misuse and harm.

  • Pain Relief: It blocks pain signals in the brain and spine, offering strong relief, especially for severe or long-lasting pain like after surgery or in cancer patients.
  • Respiratory Depression: It can dangerously slow breathing, leading to low oxygen levels, fainting, and even death, especially when used improperly or in large amounts.
  • Euphoria and Sedation: It can make users feel very happy and sleepy by changing chemicals in the brain, but these effects also make it easy to misuse and become addicted.
  • Gastrointestinal Effects: It can cause constipation by slowing down digestion, which can be uncomfortable and sometimes lead to blockages, often needing more medicine to help with this problem.
  • Tolerance and Dependence: If someone uses fentanyl for a long time, they might need higher doses to get the same pain relief, and they could become dependent on it, leading to withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop, so doctors need to be careful when prescribing it.

Don't let fentanyl control your future. Start addiction treatment and thrive!

How Fentanyl is Abused?

It is commonly abused for its euphoric effects. Its abuse poses significant risks due to its potency, which is up to 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. Here’s how it is abused:

  • Ingestion: It can be swallowed as a pill or dissolved in liquid, making it easy to take but raising the risk of overdose on fentanyl since even tiny amounts can be deadly.
  • Injection: Some people misuse fentanyl by injecting it into their veins or muscles, which gets it into the bloodstream quickly but also raises the chance of catching diseases like HIV from sharing needles.
  • Snorting: This pills can be crushed into powder and snorted through the nose for a fast high, but this can damage the nose and increase the risk of infections.
  • Smoking: This patches meant for slow release are sometimes smoked or vaporized to feel its effects faster, but this boosts the risk of overdose and breathing problem.
  • Polydrug Use: Fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs like heroin or cocaine, which raises the risk of overdose and makes treatment more complicated due to interactions between the drugs.
  • Non-Medical Use of Prescription Patches: Some people misuse fentanyl patches by extracting the gel and either swallowing or injecting it, which gives a quick intense high but greatly raises the risk of overdose
  • Online Purchasing: Analogs are sometimes bought illegally online, offering anonymity but also the danger of getting impure or fake drugs, increasing the risk of overdose and other harmful effects.
  • Counterfeit Pills: Fake pills resembling prescription opioids but containing fentanyl are sold on the illegal drug market, often leading to accidental overdoses among those who think they’re taking legitimate medications.

How to Prevent Fentanyl Overdose?

Preventing overdose involves several strategies. Firstly, healthcare providers should exercise caution when prescribing opioids and closely monitor patients for signs of misuse or dependence.

Secondly, public health initiatives should focus on increasing awareness about the dangers of fentanyl, promoting safe storage and disposal of medications, and providing education on overdose recognition and naloxone administration.

Lastly, individuals at risk of opioid overdose, including those with a history of substance use disorder or chronic pain, should have access to naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medication, and receive training on how to use it effectively in emergency situations.

Reclaim your health and happiness. Enroll in fentanyl treatment today!