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Fentanyl:Abuse, Addiction, and Treatment

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All About Fentanyl

Fentanyl works by blocking pain receptors in the brain. However, it does so while increasing the production of dopamine, which produces a euphoric sensation that affects the brain’s reward system.

Navigation: Fentanyl Overview, Fentanyl Abuse and Effects, Fentanyl Addiction, Rehab is Your Best Chance


For patients who have already developed a tolerance to other pain medications, Fentanyl is often prescribed. However, this opioid is extremely potent in its own right and has a high potential for addiction.

In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has warned that a Fentanyl epidemic could develop because of the drug’s addictive potential. It is important to take a look at the effects of abusing this drug and why people should avoid it.


Fentanyl Overview

Fentanyl is a synthetic pharmaceutical drug that is more than 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. This opioid is used to relieve severe pain, particularly after surgery or during cancer treatment. It is also prescribed for breakthrough pain or flare-ups of intense pain despite round-the-clock narcotic treatment.

Some brand names for Fentanyl include: Abstral, Actiq, Duragesic, Lazanda, Sublimaze, and Subsys. Fentanyl comes in many forms to meet different patient’s needs. For example, Abstral  is used for patients with breakthrough cancer pain who are opioid-tolerant. It is a quick-dissolve tablet version of Fentanyl that is placed under the tongue for immediate relief.

Actiq comes in the form of a lozenge on a plastic stick. It is administered under the tongue like a lollipop. Actiq is used for patients already on pain-relieving medications. It also has some military applications.

Duragesic is a Fentanyl patch that was introduced in the 1990s. It is used to treat moderate to severe pain. Duragesic’s effects can last for up to 3 days.

Lazanda is a nasal spray form of Fentanyl that is administered in the same way as a common nasal decongestant spray. Lazanda is predominantly given to cancer patients who are struggling with pain.

Sublimaze is administered in hospitals alongside anesthetics. It is an injectable form of Fentanyl administered to manage pain before and after surgeries.

Subsys is a sublingual spray, which means it is typically administered under a patient’s tongue. Because of this method of administration, it is able to deliver immediate pain relief. Its purpose is to treat breakthrough cancer pain.


Fentanyl Abuse and Effects

Fentanyl works by blocking pain receptors in the brain. However, it does so while increasing the production of dopamine, which produces a euphoric sensation that affects the brain’s reward system. Because of its pleasurable effects, Fentanyl is abused and taken recreationally by some people.

In fact, Fentanyl even has street names such as apache, China girl, China white, dance fever, TNT, and crush. Like other potent opioids, Fentanyl has a massive risk for addiction and abuse regardless of the form it takes.

Even those who are taking Fentanyl as prescribed can experience intense levels of euphoria and relaxation. When abused, Fentanyl’s effects can be compared to a heroin high.

Watch out for symptoms of Fentanyl abuse including slowed breathing, blurred vision, seizures, vomiting, nausea, headaches, dizziness, constipation, itching, and drowsiness.

Fentanyl abuse is especially dangerous for those who don’t have a tolerance to opioids. This is because Fentanyl is already a very potent drug. It has an elevated risk of overdose, which is multiplied if it is abused by someone without an opioid tolerance.

Just like other opioids, Fentanyl can slow down the respiratory system to the point of failure, leading to a fatal overdose.

Fentanyl Addiction

This potentially lethal drug is also addictive, which means even if someone wants to quit the drug, it will be difficult to do so. Fentanyl is addictive because it floods the brain with excessive amounts of dopamine.

Due to its neurochemical effects, even a person who was prescribed with Fentanyl for a medical purpose can eventually develop dependence. Sometimes people who start out with a prescription become addicted to the drug and turn to illegal methods of acquiring Fentanyl.

Once someone becomes dependent, they will feel the need to keep taking the drug just to feel “normal”. They will experience intense cravings and withdrawal if they stop taking Fentanyl. They will also need more of the drug to reach the previous sensations.

Fentanyl addiction is characterized by the compulsive intake of the drug, even when the person is already experiencing its negative physical, mental, and social effects. They will prioritize the drug over everything else, even as their health deteriorates and as their relationships crumble.

If someone in the family is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it is important to seek help. A combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy can go a long way in the fight against substance abuse. But because every individual is affected by addiction differently, a comprehensive program tailored to their specific needs is necessary. Look for a nearby addiction treatment facility today and find out how drug treatment programs work.


Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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