Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, used for pain relief and as an anesthetic. It was first developed in 1959 and introduced in the 1960s as an intravenous anesthetic. Fentanyl is legally manufactured in the United States for these purposes and is categorized as a Schedule II medicine in the United States, which means it can be abused. It can be prescribed as lozenges or lollipops, tablets, sprays, patches, and injections.
Types of Fentanyl
There are two types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical fentanyl and illicitly manufactured fentanyl. If you have an injury you are seeking treatment for, Fentanyl can be prescribed by your physician to help control your pain – this is the Pharmaceutical Fentanyl. It is also used for treatment in the advanced stages of cancer. In prescription form, Fentanyl is known as Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze.
Unfortunately, the street drug known as illicitly manufactured Fentanyl can be purchased. Illicitly manufactured Fentanyl started appearing on the streets in 2013 and was added to drugs like heroin. Illicitly manufactured Fentanyl is available on the drug market in various forms and can be taken in different ways including:
- Injection – Fentanyl can be turned into an injectable liquid and injected intravenously
- Snorted and/or sniffed powder – Powdered fentanyl looks like other drugs that are sold on the market and it is commonly mixed with drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. It is made in pill form to resemble other opioid-type medications. Fentanyl-laced drugs are extremely dangerous because people are not aware the drug is laced with Fentanyl
- Smoked – Fentanyl may be combined with heroin or methamphetamines that people choose to smoke
- Liquid – In liquid form, illicitly manufactured Fentanyl can be found in nasal sprays, eye drops, or dropped onto paper like small candies
- Patches – These have been known to be frozen, cut into pieces, and then placed under the tongue or on the inside cheek cavity
Fentanyl can be extremely addictive. Like other opioids, there is always a risk for addiction as your body can develop a dependency on the drug. It is a fast-acting and short-lived drug, which means it could create the need or desire to take more of the medication to stop the ongoing pain that you may be experiencing.
Street Names Associated With Fentanyl
There are many street names for Fentanyl and they include:
- Dance Fever
- Murder 8
- Tango & Cash
- China White
- China Girl
- China Town
- Great Bear
Fentanyl Addiction and Overdose
Fentanyl is a highly addictive opioid which is why a lot of patients who take it get addicted so easily. Being addicted to a drug like Fentanyl can be extremely dangerous as someone may always look for something to take the pain away; knowing this drug can help with that, may cause someone to take too much too soon. Over 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like Fentanyl; the equivalent of 2 grains of sand of Fentanyl can kill someone.
Overdose is most often related to synthetic opioid-related drugs because even in small doses, Fentanyl can be deadly. Any drug you can get your hands on in ways other than through your doctor may contain Fentanyl without you knowing due to Fentanyl not having any certain taste, smell, or look to it. The only way to tell if a drug has Fentanyl in it is to test it.
Testing strips are very inexpensive and take only 5 minutes to draw results. However, not all test strips can detect all forms of Fentanyl, as there are more potent fentanyl drugs like Carfentanil which aren’t easily detected in the test strips.
Fentanyl Side Effects
Fentanyl side effects include:
- breathing problems
- Fatality for children
Women who are pregnant should use extreme caution when and if taking this drug as it can be extremely harmful to their unborn child. People who have been prescribed Fentanyl should never share this drug because it can cause serious toxicity to someone who is not supposed to be taking this type of opioid prescribed by their doctor. When taking Fentanyl, do not drink alcohol or use other types of street drugs like marijuana as this may intensify the effect.
Long-Term Side Effects
There are long-term side effects of Fentanyl which include:
- Opioid addiction
- Some people lose their “happiness” called euphoria, as their body grows a tolerance to Fentanyl
- The need to take higher doses of the drug for it to work effectively
- Respiratory depression causes slow, shallow breathing and can be fatal
- Withdrawl will occur if someone stops taking this drug once they’re addicted
Fentanyl is extremely dangerous to the general public in some ways because it could pose an inhalation or ingestion exposure threat if a sufficient amount of the powder becomes airborne. Fentanyl can also be dissolved in solvents which allows it to be in aerosol form, which can be used to contaminate a building if it is released into the HVAC system.
If someone were to come too close to an area that has been doused with Fentanyl powder or aerosol, individuals can produce symptoms of Fentanyl, even though they may not be a user. It has been said that it only takes 5 minutes or less of intranasal exposure for someone to feel the effects of this drug.