What is Fentanyl and Why Is It So Dangerous?

Pills spilling out onto spoon on table from pill bottle

According to the latest data, synthetic opioids played a role in nearly 50% of all opioid-related deaths. A decade ago they factored into just 14% of these deaths.

Over the last few years, one of these drugs, Fentanyl, has become one of the most dangerous drugs in the U.S.

So what is Fentanyl and why is it so dangerous?

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug approved to treat severe pain, including pain caused by advanced forms of cancer.

Fentanyl is an incredibly strong drug. In fact, it is between 50 and 100x more potent than the painkiller morphine.

In most cases, Fentanyl is prescribed as a transdermal patch or as a lozenge.

Illegal Fentanyl Consumption

In many cases of Fentanyl-related drug overdoses and deaths, the problem is not Fentanyl prescribed by a doctor. Instead, it is Fentanyl that is made and sold illegally.

Illegally made Fentanyl is usually sold as tablets or as a powder. It is also often mixed with other harmful drugs, like heroin or cocaine. Sometimes users don’t know that other drugs are mixed with what they think is simply Fentanyl.

When Fentanyl is mixed with heroin or cocaine, users experience a heightened feeling of euphoria. They’re also more likely to experience a drug overdose.

Medication bottle with single pill against a wood background

Why is Fentanyl so Addictive?

Fentanyl works similarly to other opioids. It binds to the body’s opioid receptors to relieve pain and bring about feelings of euphoria.

In addition, the brain adapts to Fentanyl very quickly, requiring more and more to continue experiencing the same feelings.

The following are side effects of Fentanyl abuse:

● Feelings of extreme happiness

● Nausea

● Confusion

● Drowsiness, even loss of consciousness

● Sedation

● Constipation

● Difficulty breathing

Fentanyl Withdrawal

When an individual develops an addiction to Fentanyl, he or she will often go through withdrawal symptoms when they go too long without it.

The following are common withdrawal symptoms that may occur:

● Pain in the muscles and bones

● Difficulty sleeping

● Severe vomiting and diarrhea

● Uncontrollable movements of the legs

● Cold flashes and an inability to get warm

Withdrawal symptoms are often quite severe. Because of their severity, many people find it very difficult to give up Fentanyl without medical intervention or long-term addiction treatment.

drug addict holding his head

Avoid Fentanyl Abuse Today

Fentanyl is one of the most dangerous opioids on the market today.

Exercise caution with Fentanyl and avoid it whenever possible, as it can be extremely habit-forming. Talk to your doctor about the risks for addiction if you are prescribed Fentanyl for pain management.

Keep this information on Fentanyl abuse in mind. A friend or loved one might one day need it.

About the Author

Paula Nicola, M.D.
Dr. Nicola is the Facility Director at Renu. She is a trained and board certified medical doctor with specialized training in addiction medicine.

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