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What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is used to treat individuals with severe or chronic pain

Fentanyl (also commonly called its brand name Duragesic) is an opioid painkiller chemically similar to morphine, but it is more potent and long-lasting than that strong drug. Legally, fentanyl is used to treat individuals with severe or chronic pain, most specifically people with cancer and that receive surgery. It is classified as a schedule II drug, which means it has high potential for addiction. If fentanyl is used without a prescription, it is considered illegal.

Fentanyl works like most other opioids, by binding to the brain’s opiate receptors to minimize the transportation of pain signals. It also increases dopamine levels and activates the brain’s reward center. The relaxing and euphoric effects of fentanyl drive people to abuse it. When prescribed, fentanyl can be administered by injection, taken as a lozenge or on a transdermal patch. On the street, this drug is usually sold in a powder form, sometimes mixed with heroin or cocaine and then smoked or snorted. Furthermore, since several prescriptions are written for patches, they are easy to obtain on the black market. People that abuse fentanyl patches may apply multiple patches to the body at the same time, eat or suck the patch or extract the drug from the patch, mix it with alcohol and inject it into the body.

Why People Abuse Fentanyl

People begin abusing fentanyl for many reasons. Many people develop addictions to this drug after being prescribed to it. Experts say fentanyl is 80 times more potent than morphine, so regular use can quickly lead to tolerance. With such powerful effects, users are prone to crave the drug to overcome tolerance levels, which means the body can quickly develop physical dependency. Many people assume that, because the drug is legally prescribed, it is safer to abuse than street drugs. People underestimate how powerful and quickly fentanyl affects the body, and tolerance or dependency can develop quickly.

The same thing applies to street or recreational fentanyl users. Many recreational users abuse prescription opioids because of their effects and legality. Many people believe prescription drugs are safer than street drugs, so purchasing a fentanyl patch from someone on the street may seem less risky than purchasing a schedule 1 narcotic like heroin or cocaine.

How Dangerous Is Fentanyl Abuse?

Fentanyl abuse is fearfully dangerous, especially when mixed with an alcohol solution or other drug. Because it is so potent and works on the brain so quickly, its effects can become dramatic and detrimental very fast. Recovery professionals find that even a single time abusing this drug can influence someone toward addiction. The brain is so responsive to the drug that it instantly develops a liking to it, so it will trigger memories and cravings to encourage drug abuse. Overdose and death are two common results of abusing fentanyl. The drug can cause drowsiness, sedation, mental confusion, unconsciousness, coma, respiratory depression or arrest and death.

Admissions coordinators operate our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day, so if you or a loved one needs help ending fentanyl abuse, then call now. Whether you still have questions or are ready to find treatment today, our staff will help you get and stay clean.