fentanyl

Fentanyl: Understand the Effects

Posted: September 11, 2020
Updated: September 12, 2020

What You’ll Learn In This Substance Abuse Resource

Fentanyl is a very potent drug that can cause addiction to people who abuse it and cause extreme damage to their bodies and even cause death.

Because it’s a very serious drug in the following article you’ll learn what it’s used for, how it’s known both in the medical world and the streets, the forms it can be found in, the most common use of the drug, the effects, and side-effects it has on people as well as if it’s possible to overdose when using fentanyl.


Understanding Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a very powerful opioid drug with similar properties to morphine but it is about 50-100 times more potent because it’s synthetic. Like many drugs, it’s available with a prescription but it’s also manufactured and distributed through illegally.

It’s often given to patients that are recovering from surgery or ones who have chronic and severe pain. Patients who have built up a tolerance to other pain medication also use this drug so cope with their chronic pain symptoms.

Does Fentanyl go by any other names or slang?

  • Primary Name: Fentanyl
  • Scientific Name(s): Sublimize®, Actiq®, Duragesic®, Subsys, Lazanda, Abstral
  • Street Name(s): China Girl, Apache, Friend, GoodFellas, Jackpot, Murder 8, Tango & Cash, Dance Fever and China White

What forms does Fentanyl come in?

Fentanyl is available in a few different forms and can be administered in a few different ways. It is used as an injection but the most common way to administer it is under the tongue. It also comes in a form of lozenge on a plastic stick and the way to use it is similar to a lollipop under the tongue. Another form is a patch that is stuck to a person’s skin which is quite easy to use as well. There are also nasal sprays and dissolvable tablets that have fentanyl in it.

  • Actiq – Lozenge on a plastic stick that is administered under the tongue
  • Duragesic – a patch that is stuck to the person’s skin
  • Sublimize – an injectable form of fentanyl
  • Subsys – spray administered under the tongue
  • Abstral – quick-dissolve tablet
  • Lazanda – nasal spray

How Do People Consume Fentanyl?

If it is prescribed by a doctor, it can be administered as a shot, lozenges that are taken like cough drops, and a patch that attaches to the skin.
The most common illegal uses of this drug include injection, sniffing, swallowing, and inhalation.

The drug is very potent regardless of the way you consume it and every one of them causes some form of damage to you. Sniffing and inhaling will cause harm to your throat and nose while an injection will cause huge damage to your veins and cause infections.

  • Injection – similar to heroin injection
  • Sniffing – when in powdered form like cocaine
  • Inhalation – when it’s in nasal sprays
  • Swallowing – when it’s in the form of cough drops

Fentanyl’s Dangers

Fentanyl can be extremely dangerous and harmful to our body and sometimes even prove fatal because it can lead to a failure of our respiratory system. Because of the high potency of the drug, it’s only prescribed by doctors to patients who have already developed resistance to other similar drugs. Some of the side effects that this drug brings are dry mouth, constipation, anxiety, depression, lightheadedness, drowsiness, fatigue, elation, physical weakness, hallucinations, and so on.

Signs + Symptoms of Cocaine Abuse 

Symptoms of Cocaine Abuse are not hard to detect, even as each individual uses and abuses the drug in different quantities. Below we breakdown the list of common symptoms and signs, varying from moderate abuse to severe.

Physical Symptoms

  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weakened immune system
  • Severe gastrointestinal problems
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Itchy skin
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Constricted pupils

Psychological Symptoms

  • Lack of motivation
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Dysphoria

Behavior Signs

  • Social withdrawal
  • Personality changes
  • Lying
  • Recklessness
  • Engaging in deception

Overdosing on Fentanyl

Overdosing on Fentanyl is something that has been on the rise unfortunately and the lethality of a fentanyl overdose is quite high. The side-effects of a fentanyl overdose start with slowed breathing and turn into seizures occasionally ending up with death. The fentanyl overdose causes your body to lose the need to breathe which is why the most common cause of death is respiratory failure in patients who overdosed.

The symptoms that appear when you take a dose of this drug that is higher than your body can endure include extreme fatigue, difficulty swallowing, fainting, dizziness, respiratory arrest, shallow breathing, cardiac arrest, severe confusion, failure to respond to pain.

Who is impacted by Fentanyl Addiction?

The group that is at the highest risk of developing an addiction to fentanyl are those who are already addicted to other less potent painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet. Because they are developing resistance to the less potent drugs they are addicted to they are most at risk of reaching out and trying to buy fentanyl through illegal channels and develop an even stronger addiction that is much more dangerous and harder to treat.

Another group that often gets addicted to fentanyl is people who are using heroin. People find fentanyl to be very similar to heroin and if they can’t get their hands on their drug of choice they take fentanyl as a substitute making themselves addicted to fentanyl over time.

Drug Testing or Detection

The amount of time this drug stays in your system will depend on a few different factors including your size, weight, frequency of drug use, dose, and duration of use, impaired kidney or liver functionality. All of the above will affect the amount of time the drug will stay in your system but usually in a urine test, a person can test positive up to 72 hours after he or she last used the drug.

The hair tests available for fentanyl can detect traces of it up to 3 months after the last use while blood tests can detect the presence of it up to 48 hours after last use.

Fentanyl Abuse Statistics, Laws, Punishments

  • 45.5% Increase in 2017: The number of fentanyl-related deaths went up to 59.8% in 2017 compared to 14.3% in 2010.
  • 640% increase in seizures: From 2012 till 2014 the number of seizures caused by fentanyl increased by 640%.
  • An increasing number of fentanyl overdose deaths: The CDC gathered data in 2014 and realized that illegally made fentanyl is causing the overdose deaths to go up. Only in 2014, 19000 people died from overdosing on prescription medication including various painkillers, fentanyl, methadone, and tramadol.

Laws + Punishments

It is extremely illegal to have this synthetic opioid drug for yourself without a prescription as well as sell it or give away for free. If you’re caught and you have it with you without a prescription for it you can get up to 7 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or a combination of both. If you’re caught selling Fentanyl or giving it away to your friends can land you a sentence of life in prison, an unlimited fine, or a combination of both.

In case you’re caught driving under the influence of fentanyl you might get a huge fine, a ban of driving, or even some prison time.

If someone is caught illegally distributing fentanyl in a club, hostel, bar, or another establishment, the landlord, bar, or club owner or any other person that manages the place can be prosecuted as well.