Fentanyl: Understanding its Effects and Signs of Addiction

Fentanyl can be addictive and potentially dangerous, whether used for medical purposes by patients, diverted to get high by recreational users, or acquired in an impure form off the streets for injection by abusers. If you are struggling daily with fentanyl addiction and want to quit, call our 24-Hour Toll-Free Addiction Helpline at (855) 904-7873.


Once again, fentanyl is creating a lot of buzz on the streets and causing an outbreak of overdose and deaths. A lethal combination of fentanyl and heroin is being blamed for several dozen recent deaths in the U.S., including 37 in Maryland and 22 in Pennsylvania. But the problem is not new — Fentanyl-laced heroin outbreaks during the last decade have resulted in hundreds of fatalities.

In addition, there has been a dramatic increase in pain medications dispensed during the last decade. Along with that has come a rise in the abuse and addiction of these drugs. In the U.S. alone, approximately 3.4 million prescriptions were written for fentanyl products during the first six months of 2013. So what exactly is fentanyl, and why should you be concerned?

What is Fentanyl?

In general, fentanyl is a powerful opioid drug prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain. However, fentanyl is also produced illicitly in clandestine laboratories to be sold on the streets for its powerful high.

Licit Fentanyl Pain Medications

Actiq, Fentora, Duragesic, and Sublimaze are common brand names for the synthetic opioid fentanyl. These medications manage moderate to severe pain, typically in cancer patients, which otherwise is not controlled by other medicines. It is administered through a skin patch, by injection, or as a lozenge.

Fentanyl is a potent painkiller; by some estimates, it can be 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. This narcotic analgesic can be beneficial when used as prescribed. But like other opioids, patients with chronic pain can become dependent on it, potentially leading to addiction.

Illicit Use of Fentanyl Pain Medication and Nonpharmaceutical Fentanyl

Fentanyl creates an intense state of euphoria, so abusers often divert prescribed fentanyl medications to use illicitly for the sole purpose of getting high. For example, the gel contents in fentanyl patches are often removed and injected or ingested. On the street, fentanyl is called Apache, China girl, China white, Dance fever, Friend, Goodfella, Jackpot, TNT, Tango, and Cash.

In contrast, the fentanyl responsible for the recent wave of overdoses is being synthesized in clandestine labs and mixed with heroin in a 50/50 ratio. Nonpharmaceutical fentanyl combined with heroin or cocaine significantly amplifies their potency, as well as the potential dangers. It causes severe respiratory depression–during an overdose, the user may become unconscious, stop breathing and die. The risk for overdose is also increased because users are not getting pharmaceutical-grade fentanyl or a known dosage amount. In fact, they don’t know what they are taking.

Fentanyl Intoxication Effects and Potential Health Consequences

Fentanyl is classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act. And like other opioids, it is associated with increased tolerance and dependence and a high potential for addiction.
The intoxication effects of fentanyl use include:

Impaired coordinationConfusionSweating
Clammy skin

The potential health consequences of fentanyl use include:

Slowed or arrested breathingUnconsciousnessComa

Fentanyl Addiction and Treatment

Signs of fentanyl addiction include changes in behavior, mood, and emotions. Uncomfortable and sometimes painful withdrawal symptoms can occur when its use is discontinued, including flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, and muscle pain. In severe cases of addiction, seizures may occur. Therefore, it is advisable to withdraw under the supervision of trained and experienced medical professionals.

Medical professionals at Holy Land Rehab have successfully treated patients addicted to opioid pain medications. Intensive outpatient programs include safe and comfortable detoxification, rehabilitation, individual and family counseling, relapse prevention, and more to help you become drug-free and get your life back on track.
Start your recovery from fentanyl dependence or addiction today by calling our 24-Hour Toll-Free Helpline at (888) 446-5952. A caring counselor will answer any of your questions regarding fentanyl abuse and discuss the treatment options available for you.

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