Fentanyl is an opiate pain medication. It is one of the strongest opioids, significantly greater in strength than morphine. It is most commonly used for anesthesia and for “breakthrough pain” in those who already have chronic pain and are taking a painkiller to manage it. It can be prescribed on its own or in combination with a benzodiazepine sedative. While it is most commonly used for acute pain, it can also be prescribed for strong chronic pain using a time-release trans-dermal patch.
Fentanyl is listed as a Schedule II drug along with most of the other potent opioid pain medications. Due to its potency, however, it has an even higher potential to cause tolerance and addiction than the other opiate medications. The risk of overdose with illicit use is also greatly increased.
The onset of action is usually under 15 minutes, and pain relief occurs for 30 to 60 minutes when used for acute pain. Given its extreme potency, this drug presents all of the dangers of the other opioid pain medications. Common minor side effects include diarrheah, nausea, confusion, constipation and dry mouth. Some users may also experience headaches, abdominal pain, anxiety or hallucinations among other more serious symptoms. Due to the extreme potency of the drug, death by overdose is also a serious risk.
Fentanyl may be prescribed as a transdermal time-release patch, a liquid for oral administration, an intravenous injection, or a tablet. It is also sometimes prescribed in a lollipop or lozenge form for instant release.
Fentanyl is an opiate painkiller. It is one of the most powerful opiate painkillers, significantly stronger than even pure heroin. It can be used both for chronic pain management (usually in a time-release formula) and for intense breakthrough pain in those who already take some form of pain medication.
The DEA lists fentanyl as a Schedule II drug. This is the class that most opiate painkillers are in, as they have legitimate medical use and do not cause addiction in most patients that follow their doctors orders. Special care should be exercised with this medication, however, as it is so much stronger than most of the other prescription opiate painkillers.
Fentanyl can be taken in a wide variety of different ways for different pain needs. This also presents an equally wide range of possibilities for illegal abuse.
Fentanyl designed for instant release delivers immediate and powerful pain relief. When it is prescribed for chronic pain, it is usually done with a trans-dermal patch that controls the release of it over time.
A number of patients will experience constipation, dry mouth, excessive sweating, diarrhea, and difficulty urinating. Less common short-term effects include headaches, anxiety, hallucinations and weight loss.
Fentanyl shares the long-term health risks of all opioids. These include inflammation throughout the body, hormonal disturbances, and an elevated risk of kidney, liver and cardiovascular damage. Some long-term opiate abusers have also developed chronic mental health issues such as paranoia and anxiety. The potency of this medication magnifies all of these risks.
Since it is so powerful, there is even more of an overdose risk than usual. Death by opioid overdose is usually due to respiratory depression.
Drug abusers often find fentanyl quite acceptable to abuse on its own due to its strength. Unintentional abuse often happens with heroin users, however, as street heroin is sometimes cut with fentanyl. Mixing the two provides an additional risk of overdose.
Fentanyl is particularly lethal, even among the opiate drugs. A 2007 study by the DEA found that it was responsible for over 1,000 annual overdose deaths. Emergency room visits have also doubled over the past decade, going from just under 10,000 in 2004 to just over 20,000 in 2011. The potency of of this medication makes it a serious addiction risk. Fentanyl addiction can develop more quickly than with other types of opiates.
An addiction to fentanyl can be one of the most powerful and hard to shake of all the possible drug addictions. Patients need a period of detox, followed by the services of a licensed treatment center. They will likely need an extended period of inpatient treatment at such a facility, during which time they learn how to live independently again, manage their symptoms and get treatment for any mental health complications they might have. For more information about treatment for addiction and abuse, visit Fentanyl Rehab or call one of our caring addiction treatment specialists.
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