Fentanyl is a drug that has been around a while, but just now is becoming abused. This drug is a powerful synthetic opioid that is prescribed under the brand names Duragesic, Actiq, and Sublimaze. Here are some facts about fentanyl.
About the Drug
Fentanyl is similar to the opioid morphine, but it is actually 100 times more potent. The drug fentanyl is a schedule II prescription drug that is only given to patients with severe, intractable pain. Street names for fentanyl are GoodFella, Jackpot, Friend, Dance Fever, China Girl, China White, Apache, Murder 8, TNT, and Tango & Cash.
How People use Fentanyl
When prescribed by a doctor, fentanyl is administered via transdermal patch, injection, or in lozenges. However, fentanyl and its analogs associated with overdoses have been produced in clandestine laboratories. Nonpharmaceutical fentanyl is sold as a power, spiked on blotter paper, as tablets that mimic other opioids, or mixed with or substituted for heroin. Because drug dealers are now manufacturing fentanyl, people can snort, swallow, or inject the synthetic drug.
How Fentanyl Patches are Abused
Duragesic patches are abused by people who just wish to get high. People who abuse fentanyl are not in pain. The fentanyl patches contain a gel in a pouch lying between two membranes. The abuser will eat the fentanyl gel, giving them a big dose all at once. Many fentanyl abusers steal the patches from a friend, family member, or person in his/her care, and then apply them to their skin or eat the gel.
Who Abuses Fentanyl
Fentanyl abuse can occur when a person exaggerates his/her pain in order to get a prescription from the doctor. An injured person could pretend to be in great pain just to get fentanyl. Physicians may over-prescribe fentanyl by giving the patient the medication when he/she does not need it, or for longer than he/she requires the drug. In addition, healthcare and pharmacy workers can become addicted to or abuse fentanyl, because they have access to prescriptions and medications.
How Fentanyl affects your Brain
Fentanyl works by binding with the body’s natural opioid receptors, which are located in areas of the brain that control emotions and pain. Like morphine and heroin, fentanyl has a high addiction potential. When opioid drugs bind to the body’s opioid receptors, they drive up dopamine levels in reward area, which produces a state of relaxation and euphoria. The effects of fentanyl also include confusion, nausea, vomiting, constipation, drowsiness, sedation, addiction, tolerance, respiratory depression, unconsciousness, coma, and with overdose, death.
What Makes Fentanyl Dangerous
Fentanyl is a dangerous drug when used recreationally. Opioid receptors found in the brain control breathing rate. When fentanyl is consumed or absorbed in high doses, it can cause your breathing to completely stop. This is especially true when a the drug user is not aware of what he/she is taking. Fentanyl sold on the street poses many dangers, as it amplifies the potency of heroin and cocaine.
The Drug Abuse/Use Problem in America
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 39 million people in the U.S. have used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. That’s roughly 10% of the entire population. Of those who abuse drugs, teens and adolescents make up 3 million of them.
Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Abuse
There are a number of signs and symptoms that alert you that someone you know, love, and wish to help is abusing fentanyl. These signs and symptoms include:
- Difficulty seeing
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Retention of urine
- Dry mouth
- Pin-point pupils (constriction)
- Bad dreams
- Weight loss
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