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What is Fentanyl?

What is Fentanyl?

What is Fentanyl?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2019,  more than 36,000 people died from overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl. Education is critical in informing the public about the addictive dangers of this drug, and to help fight back against the current opioid epidemic.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is largely used to treat severe pain, including pain following surgery, chronic pain, or acute pain following an accident. Fentanyl is intended to be used in a clinical setting, but it is also illegally sold on the streets, etc. by unauthorized sellers.

Some street names you might hear Fentanyl fall under include:

  • Apache
  • China Girl
  • China Town
  • Dance Fever
  • Friend
  • Goodfellas
  • Great Bear
  • He-Man
  • Jackpot
  • King Ivory
  • Murder 8
  • Tango & Cash

Opioids are drugs that are derived from the opium of the poppy plant and are used to treat pain in modern-day clinical settings. Unfortunately, synthetic opioids and opiates are also widely abused and have the potential to be addictive. These can include prescription opioids and illicit drug substances such as:

  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Opium
  • Fentanyl
  • Oxycontin

Fentanyl was first created by Dr. Paul Janssen and the Janssen pharmaceutical company. Pharmaceutical Fentanyl showed promise in the 1960s and throughout the 1980s, it is now a street drug that is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule II narcotic under the United States Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

Illegal labs, such as those in China and Mexico, are thought to contribute to the current opioid epidemic and are actively involved in producing synthetic opioids and counterfeit pills that contain Fentanyl.

Side Effects of Fentanyl

Fentanyl, unlike morphine and other less powerful opioids, is 50 to 100 times more potent than these traditional pain medications.  As such, its side effects can be incredibly pronounced, and can even lead to overdose more quickly than other traditional pain medications. Side effects of Fentanyl include:

  • Relaxation
  • Pain relief
  • Euphoria
  • Fatigue
  • Sedation
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Inability to use the restroom
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Decreased breathing

Why is Fentanyl So Addictive?

Fentanyl, like other types of prescription opioid pain medication, works by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain. These opioid receptors are responsible for creating feelings of pain that can lead to a wide amount of distress in patients. However, because Fentanyl binds directly to these opioid receptors, its effects can be felt almost immediately and lead to a high potential for addiction.

Because of its ability to work fast against pain, many hospitals and other clinical settings readily use Fentanyl to treat patients. Although there is no singular reason as to why people become addicted, there are studies that indicate addiction might have biological and environmental factors.

How Do I Treat Opioid Addiction?

Opioids such as Fentanyl can be very difficult to effectively treat. This is due to the opioid withdrawal symptoms that occur almost immediately after stopping the use of the drug. These withdrawal symptoms are incredibly painful and can make it almost impossible for someone to stop using Fentanyl or other opioids. People will want to avoid these uncomfortable symptoms so much that they will continue down the road of addiction.

These withdrawal symptoms from Fentanyl include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Stomach cramps
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Shaking
  • Restlessness

If you or someone you know is going through withdrawal symptoms due to this powerful drug, you will need to get professional medical help in order to treat the underlying causes of addiction.

Treatment Options

There are several drug treatment centers that can provide a wide range of addiction treatment options for opioid use disorder. These treatment centers will not only focus on getting people to stop using Fentanyl, but also treat underlying factors of addiction through mental health treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, drug counseling, and co-occurring addiction disorders such as alcohol addiction. 

Below are several drug addiction treatment options:

Medical detoxification: Fentanyl might be used in combination with other substances, such as heroin, alcohol, or other opioids. To effectively complete Fentanyl addiction treatment and stop their drug use, some people might need to get expert help to detox from Fentanyl or other substances. A medical detoxification program will help people with this drug use disorder stop using Fentanyl safely and help minimize their withdrawal symptoms. 

Inpatient drug treatment: Because Fentanyl is highly addictive and easy to come by, it’s important to consider inpatient treatment as a viable option. During inpatient addiction treatment, you or a loved one will remain in a facility that is locked or closely monitored and won’t have access to outside visitors for anywhere between 30 days or longer. This inpatient treatment can help you treat underlying mental health issues contributing to your Fentanyl addiction, find other ways to treat your severe pain and prevent you from having a Fentanyl overdose.

Outpatient drug treatment: Once you’ve completed the beginning stages of Fentanyl addiction treatment, you will then need to maintain your sobriety and stay away from other drugs as well. Outpatient treatment is a good treatment option for people that have already completed inpatient treatment, or those that want to still maintain their regular schedule while undergoing drug addiction treatment.

Medication-Assisted Treatment: Certain medications can be used to treat opioid addiction and help people stop using Fentanyl. These medications include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. They work by blocking the effect Fentanyl has on the opioid receptor and as such are known as opioid receptor antagonist medications. Naloxone can also be used if someone using Fentanyl undergoes an overdose and stops breathing. This drug can be administered through a shot into the muscle, or as a nasal spray to help prevent opioid overdose deaths.

Follow-up Care: It’s important to find ways to manage pain through chronic pain management, other types of pain medication, and continued support from medical providers. With the best pain treatment and follow-up care, you can ensure your Fentanyl addiction treatment will continue to help you stay sober.

Need Help?

Although Fentanyl has helped many people with their severe pain, it remains a highly dangerous and addictive drug that should only be used when prescribed by a medical provider. Call this National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for confidential, 24 hour help.


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