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Fentanyl is a synthetic solid opioid painkiller that is usually prescribed to two major categories of patients. Chiefly to those who are suffering from severe pain and secondarily to those who need Fentanyl post-operation. Additionally, patients who have increased tolerance for opioids usually receive Fentanyl. Patients develop tolerance to this drug, Fentanyl when the same effects are achieved with an increased dosage.

The drug Fentanyl is very efficient in relieving sudden episodes of pain, despite the patient being on other painkillers. It resembles a naturally occurring opioid, Morphine. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than Morphine, which very well explains patients being more dependent on Fentanyl.

Fentanyl and opioid addiction are so common around the globe that it is itself an alarming sign. Fentanyl addiction rate, including other pain meds, is 2% in the world. The fly in the ointment is the drug being manufactured illegally. Talking about statistics, the death percentage due to Fentanyl overdose was 14.3 % back then, increasing to 57% in 2017.

Note: While prescribing Fentanyl, your doctors can write the drug as Duragesic, Sublimaze, Actiq, etc. 

One must have specific questions regarding Fentanyl pill addiction, the drug’s addiction potential, and the potential risk factors associated with Fentanyl addiction. The most frequent question everyone must have in his mind is if one should be alarmed if any of his loved ones are on Fentanyl.  So, let us get started with the answers to your questions and help you discover more about Fentanyl drug addiction and its effect on the human body. 

White pills arranged on a yellow background.

If a person is hospitalized with the complaint of prolonged and chronic pain, or in post-operation, the patient is kept on Fentanyl dosage for a long time. With which, Fentanyl Addiction risk also elevates.

Continued usage of Fentanyl decreases the effect of the painkiller. Hence, to achieve the desired results, doctors sometimes increase the dose of the drug, resulting in Fentanyl addiction.

Although, in the case of a patient getting a limited dosage, it will not result in Fentanyl abuse. This leads us to the conclusion that not every patient will develop Fentanyl pill addiction. However, there is a significant risk of addiction to Fentanyl.

A doctor is not to be blamed if a patient craves more drug doses due to Fentanyl addiction. Fundamentally, these Fentanyl pain pills are in service to resolve pain problems. Millions of patients are treated with Fentanyl on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, one does not realize that he is developing a Fentanyl Pill Addiction in his body. It may feel like the pain is not being relieved with the help of a specific dose, demanding a higher amount to be resolved.

In no time, you will be popping pills without a doctor’s advice, trying to get more and more, using other means to get Fentanyl and meet your cravings. This is the earliest sign of Fentanyl use disorder, which many patients seem to ignore.

How can a highly efficient painkiller develop an addiction? This particular thing must be bothering you! 

How can Fentanyl addiction develop when it is not given for a long time? What are the different ways of Fentanyl abuse?

At first, the patient suffering from chronic pain or post-operative pain is kept on certain pain meds. If that patient receives specific episodes of severe pain in a hospital setting, he is given Fentanyl IV injection to lower the sudden surge of pain.

Fentanyl binds to the opiate receptors in our body, which in turn block the pain signaling pathways. Specific pathways are signaling to our Central Nervous System (CNS). When these pathways are blocked, pain sensations are remarkably reduced.

It also activates the dopamine-releasing system in our brain, which elevates one’s mood. Hence, the dual effect of relieving pain and boosting the mood accelerates the relative addiction potential of the drug Fentanyl.

A sense of euphoria and overly relaxed mood is a dangerous sign that cannot be evaluated quickly. Being high due to Fentanyl Use Disorder and euphoria can result in severe side effects.

For a beginner, the risk of a Fentanyl overdose is very high, which one might ignore at first. Although, it can lead to severe complications and eventually death. 

The silver lining is that Fentanyl Addiction takes a longer course of time and does not develop within a couple of days or a week. You can always watch your loved ones receiving Fentanyl in a hospital setting or if a doctor is prescribing it to them.

Generally, low doses of Fentanyl are given at first and gradually increase with time. By that time, a patient might be in pain and receiving other pain meds, which increases the relative addiction potential of the drug Fentanyl. 

If a patient is asking for more doses despite experiencing no pain, there is a great chance he is addicted to Fentanyl already.

Fentanyl is being available in different forms. For instance, they come as buccal tablets, films, sublingual tablets, and intravenous (IV) injections. It depends on the doctor in what form does he prescribe the drug.

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In hospitals, Fentanyl is usually injected via an IV line, one of the fastest routes to administer a drug and relieve the pain.

But what causes addiction to Fentanyl? Indeed, when you are abusing Fentanyl by overdosing it without a doctor’s prescription, you have developed Fentanyl Addiction.

One of the earliest signs of Fentanyl use disorder is the way it affects one’s sleep. You may not be able to perform simple tasks effectively. Moreover, folks abusing Fentanyl show specific violent behavior when they cannot get their hands on Fentanyl.

Let us shed some light on different brands and forms available in the merchandise and on the streets where Fentanyl comes in.

We already know that Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid, and it is solely manufactured to lower the immense amount of pain a post-operative patient may feel. Sometimes, it is also injected by anesthetics to decrease pain in the operation theatre.

Fentanyl is ranked above the well-known drugs, Heroin, and Morphine. As opioids are narcotic painkillers, these activate specific centers in our CNS, releasing hormones and dopamine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, which regulates pleasure levels in the human body. Therefore, a patient feels pleasure and peace while abusing Fentanyl.

If you are already taking different pain medications due to certain conditions, you must tell your doctor about it. 

  • Actiq
  • Duragesic
  • Sublimaze 
  • Subsys
  • Abstral
  • Lazanda

Actiq is commonly given to patients already receiving opioid therapy for chronic cancer. It relieves pain remarkably. It is generally available in 200mg, 400mg, 600mg, and 800mg in pharmacies and stores.

Moreover, it is contraindicated for post-operative patients to treat migraine and dental pain. It comes in a lollipop (drug covering a long stick) which can be orally utilized. 

Duragesic is an analgesic opioid available in transdermal patches form. Usually, it is prescribed to patients who have developed opioid tolerance.

The effect of Duragesic can last for more than three days. It was introduced back in the 1990s. Now the use of this drug is significantly reduced considering the availability of more efficient forms in the market.

Sublimaze is given as a short anesthetic agent along with other pain medications. It is offered in 0.1mg/kg along with oxygen and other CNS depressants.

This drug is given via an IV line and is used to lower pain while operating. An anesthetic should know the respiratory depression due to Sublimaze (Fentanyl) overdose.

Subsys is prescribed to patients with cancers to relieve breakthrough pain. Patients may be getting large doses of another opioid pain killer along with Fentanyl (Subsys).

Subsys, being an oral spray, is hard to use and needs to be explained thoroughly by the doctor before using. A pharmacist can also guide the use, disposal, and preparation of the drug.

Do not spit in the first minute after spraying inside your oral cavity. Let the medicine rest under the tongue for 30-60 seconds. Do not spray twice, as it will come under the banner of Fentanyl abuse, and you will be more likely to get overdose symptoms.

Abstral blocks the pain receptors of the CNS. It is contraindicated to use for mild to moderate pain and should be only prescribed for severe pain.

These sublingual tablets should not be bitten, chewed, swallowed, etc. The dosage of this analgesia depends on the patient’s condition, weight, and certain other factors.

Lazanda is also a potent analgesic that comes in the form of nasal spray. It is used in the same manner as other nasal sprays. Reading the instructions before using them is still recommended.

Fentanyl use disorder can be related to overdose of any of the above forms. Still, Fentanyl addiction is familiar with pain pills. These are easy to ingest and manufacture as compared to other patches and prays.

Fentanyl analog is being manufactured in many illegal laboratories. Fentanyl overdoses also cause respiratory depression, which can lead to coma or sudden death.

The most typical way of Fentanyl abuse is:

  • Oral intake of Fentanyl pills. 
  • Crushing and snorting the Fentanyl pills
  • Crushing and smoking the Fentanyl pills
  • Injecting Fentanyl via an IV line. 

The fastest way to get “high” and get the desired result is an IV line, as it goes directly to the brain via blood and blocks the pain receptors, and increases dopamine. 

The oral pathway takes relatively more time to get absorbed, so most Fentanyl addicts rarely use it this way. However, Fentanyl addiction starts with the illegal usage of oral doses. In the blink of an eye, you are addicted to Fentanyl and popping pills like sweet gum.

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Additionally, Fentanyl addiction, along with other CNS depressants or alcohol, can cause severe side effects. The common drugs abused with Fentanyl are:

  • Heroin.
  • Cocaine.
  • Morphine.
  • Oxycodone and other analgesics.
  • Alcohol.
  • Barbiturates.
  • Anticonvulsants.
  • Antidepressants.

Along with the methods and causes of Fentanyl abuse, discussing the risk of Fentanyl drug addiction and long-term Fentanyl addiction symptoms is equally important.

Note: Fentanyl abuse can depress the respiratory system and cut your life short within seconds.

For beginners, Fentanyl seems like an exceptional drug that helps in relieving sudden pain and elevates your mood. However, these effects contribute towards building long-term Fentanyl addiction symptoms. 

When Fentanyl is mixed with any other CNS depressant or analgesic, it can cause headaches, drowsiness and affects the sleep cycle.

Fentanyl abuse disorder can cause muscle-relaxing effects and a state of euphoria. Such feeling results in increased craving, and gradually a Fentanyl addict keeps taking increased dosages of Fentanyl, causing damage.

The severe Fentanyl addiction symptoms include bradycardia and respiratory depression. A Fentanyl overdose can induce coma in an addict.

If there is anyone around you under the treatment of Fentanyl, they should be closely monitored since you never know when an addiction to Fentanyl starts developing.

A classical sign is thinking about the next dose and being unable to focus on work without the medication.

Note: 0.1mg dose of Fentanyl is equivalent to 100mg of morphine. 

There is a definite pattern of addiction to Fentanyl. Some short-term addiction effects of Fentanyl are as follows

  • Dry mouth.
  • Constipation.
  • Weakness.
  • Constricted pupil.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Unconsciousness.
  • Bradycardia.
  • Flushing.
  • Sweating.
  • Vomit.
  • Nausea.
  • Tightness in the throat.

Fentanyl and opioid addiction side effects can be redness, itching, pain, and swelling at the patch site due to prolonged usage. These earliest signs should never be taken lightly, as Fentanyl overdose can be fatal.

Coming to the long-term side effects of Fentanyl drug addiction, these are as follows:

A Fentanyl overdose can cause life-threatening problems. In case you see a Fentanyl addict unconscious, call an ambulance or call for help.

Respiratory depression: lung is a muscular organ; Fentanyl overdose relaxes almost every muscle of our body. Following the pattern also decreases the respiratory chest movements to an alarming level. 

Due to low levels of oxygen, your body goes into a state of hypoxia, which can cause brain damage leading to coma. Sometimes, the damage is irreversible. 

Cardiac arrest: Fentanyl being a solid analgesic and muscle relaxant, has a powerful effect. Long-term usage can damage the heart muscle and lower the heartbeats, which can prove to be fatal.

A Fentanyl addict may die within minutes due to overdose. Additionally, a hypoxic state damages cardiac muscles, which completely shuts down the pumping process, and you die.

Muscle damage: the chronic use of Fentanyl can damage muscles. Continuous blockage of brain signals to muscle can cause muscle pain, fatigue, and muscle cramps.

A fentanyl overdose can cause anxiety, depression, and alter breathing if you abuse it for a long time.

Fortunately, the side effects, whether short or long, can be reversed. Although, the patient needs to be hospitalized to counter the withdrawal symptoms.

Before jumping to Fentanyl and opioid addiction withdrawal symptoms, here is all you need to know about the signs and symptoms of Fentanyl addiction.

Fentanyl alters the pain and pleasure centers in the brain so much that it gets challenging to pass a day without it.

The more you use it, the more you get addicted to it. The feeling of happiness and pain-free days is the worst part. When you are addicted to Fentanyl, it will be tough to get pleasure by any other means.

Fentanyl Addiction destroys the personal, social, family, and work-life and makes up some crucial signs. All you think is when and where to get the pills.

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A person does not get addicted to Fentanyl on the streets. He will be first administered Fentanyl in a hospital setting or must be prescribed by a doctor. Mostly, patients do not even realize they are getting addicted to it.

Once there is tolerance developed, a person will consume these pain meds to feel normal. This is one of the initial steps of Fentanyl addiction.

Since many post-operative or cancer patients are prescribed Fentanyl, there is a greater risk of depression and anxiety in these patients. They will continue using the drug without a doctor’s prescription.

The patient starts feeling that a short duration after the Fentanyl injection is the only carefree and happy moment of his life. Collectively, all the Fentanyl Addiction symptoms are

  1. Not accepting Fentanyl use disorder: deep down, you will realize that the amount of Fentanyl you consume is unhealthy. Still, you will continue to refuse the fact and would not accept it. 

Whenever anyone mentions your Fentanyl addiction and overuse, you will get anxious and behave irrationally to stop the discussion.

  1. Asking for more doses: In hospitals, a doctor decides the amounts rather than the patient. Sometimes, you might see a patient asking for more frequent doses or an increment in dosage. 

This is a clear sign that he is developing Fentanyl addiction.

  1. Withdrawal symptoms after stopping the Fentanyl abuse: when you think living a day without a Fentanyl shot is possible, you start having anxiety attacks, stressful feelings, and sweating on the forehead. 
  2. Spending all the resources to get more Fentanyl: Fentanyl addict will give in all their money, time, and other resources to get more of it.
  3. Insouciant behavior: you might show a lack of interest in social, personal, or work life, which is an alarming sign of developing severe Fentanyl addiction.
  4. Continue Fentanyl use disorder despite realizing the consequences: even when a close friend or family member tries to knock some sense into you, it will seem impossible to withdraw yourself from Fentanyl abuse.
  5. Using illegal means to get Fentanyl is already one of the most common drugs available on the streets after cocaine and Heroin. The addict will try to use unlawful means to get the drug to fulfill his intentions.

Note: Fentanyl is famous on the street with some catchy names like China white, drop dead, China girl, good fells, jackpot, murder 8, TNT, etc. 

When there is dependency and addiction to Fentanyl, sudden stoppage of Fentanyl use disorder will result in withdrawal symptoms.

Usually, Fentanyl addiction withdrawal symptoms start after 12 hours of the last usage and can last for 1-2 weeks. 

There are specific changes in the human body when continuous usage of a drug is obstructed. A halt in Fentanyl abuse will bring some abrupt changes like:

  • Goosebumps.
  • Dilating pupil.
  • Nausea.
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Lack of bowel movement.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Headache.
  • Sweating.
  • Chills.
  • Anxiety.
  • Runny nose.
  • Agitation.
  • Generalized pain. 
  • Drug craving.
  • Irrational behavior.
  • Tremors.
  • Dizziness.

Luckily, all the Fentanyl addiction withdrawal symptoms can be reversed within few weeks. Coming to the silver lining amongst these dark clouds, you can live a happy life off of these analgesics. 

Talking about the average dose of Fentanyl to treat severe sudden pain, a patient is given 50microgram/ml injection for an IV dose. Although, it varies and depends on the route of administration and severity of the disease.

As it enhances the dopamine levels in our CNS and creates a sense of euphoria, a Fentanyl addict does not bother to overdose on it. Mostly, they are not conscious and consume the pills without counting.

When you suspect a patient of a Fentanyl overdose, he will be very irresponsive and shallow breathing. Always call an ambulance and call for help if you see an addict around you.

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Shallow breathing points towards hypoxia which can cause brain damage and coma leading to death. Some other Fentanyl use disorders are:

  • Slow heartbeat.
  • No chest movements.
  • Dry and cold skin.
  • Trouble in speech.
  • Unable to walk.
  • Not responding to speech.
  • Sleepiness.
  • Fainted.

The least lethal dose due to Fentanyl addiction is 250 micrograms. Moreover, a Fentanyl addiction and pregnancy cannot go together. It can cause surfactant deficiency in the fetus. 

Surfactant is essential to develop healthy lungs in a developing fetus. So, a Fentanyl addict cannot practically conceive while being it. It would help if you relieved Fentanyl addiction and then consider expecting a child. 

To relieve Fentanyl addiction symptoms, sometimes you need to get admitted to a hospital under complete observation for a better experience and specific results. 

Fentanyl addiction is relatively common among people. It is a life-saving drug with a great potential to cure pain effectively. Getting addicted to this drug can be considered a slight risk one takes to improve the standard of life wherever needed.

Addiction to Fentanyl always starts with a doctor prescribing it. It is wise to beware and not get fond of Fentanyl shots. Instead, try to alarm your family members or friends when you feel like taking more of it than already prescribed. 

Withdrawal symptoms can also be reversed. Supportive friends and family prove to be a big help. Moreover, there are rehab centers where you can discuss your problems with the professionals and sort them out. 

Once you start abusing Fentanyl, you are cutting your life short. Seeking help is never a shame! Do not hesitate to tell your doctor about Fentanyl use disorder.

Know different signs and methods of a Fentanyl use disorder, so you help a loved one before it’s too late!