Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate-analgesic (pain reliever) that is 80 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl addiction should be taken very seriously because of the drug's high potency, short onset and rapid duration.
Brief History of Fentanyl
Fentanyl was first synthesized in Belgium in the 1950s as fast-acting pain reliever. In the 1970s, it became a popular black market drug, usually stolen from hospitals and pharmacies. An even stronger derivative of fentanyl (mixed with heroin) called China White was devised and sold on the streets, often as heroin.
Soon other more powerful variants often mixed with heroin, were made and sold through clandestine labs. Because these versions were so potent, dozens of people around the country died of overdoses. Fentanly is a schedule II narcotic.
How it Works?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, "fentanyl works by binding to the body's opiate receptors, highly concentrated in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions. When opiate drugs bind to these receptors, they can drive up dopamine levels in the brain's reward areas, producing a state of euphoria and relaxation."
Because it is able to quickly dissolve in oils and fats, it's able to reach the central nervous system very quickly. Fentanyl's effects, when injected intravenously, are felt quickly and for a short time depending on the dose.
Types of Fentanyl
A common form of prescription fentanyl is a time-released patch with the brand name Duragesic. The drug is slowly released through the skin over a 72-hour period. Addicts often cut up the patch and eat the fentanyl or smoke the patch. Some even heat the patch with a hair dryer to speed up the release for a quicker, more potent high.
Actiq is the brand name for a prescription fentanyl product used to treat cancer pain. Actiq, which looks like a plastic lollipop and is absorbed into the body by sucking on it, has been at the center of overdose death lawsuits. More doctors were prescribing it for patients with chronic pain, and they were becoming addicted.
Another form of fetanyl is the recently FDA-approved tablet called Abstral. According to the FDA, "Fentanyl immediate-release transmucosal medications are administered on the soft surfaces of the mouth (inside of the cheek, gums, tongue), or the nasal passages or throat where they dissolve and are absorbed."
Street names for Fentanyl include Apache, China girl, China white (heroin mixed with fentanyl), dance fever, goodfella, jackpot, murder 8, TNT, and Tango and Cash.
Death by Fentanyl
Fentanyl overdose deaths occurred like the plague in the mid-2000s. Whether it will continue in this decade is unknown. Below is the aftermath of Fentanyl hitting the streets, according to a published report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Between 2005 and 2006 in Chicago, there were 102 fentanyl-related deaths.
- In Detroit in 2005, there were 63 fentanyl-related deaths.
- In Philadelphia in a 3-month period in 2006, 53 people died from fentanyl.
- South New Jersey had 10 fentanyl-related deaths in April 2006 alone.
- Georgia had 10 fentanyl-relate deaths in December of 2005.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weak, shallow breathing
- Difficulty urinating
- Severe Constipation
- Cold, clammy skin
- Dry mouth
Fentanyl Addiction Stories
These comments were taken from erowid.org, a site that catalogs drug users' experiences.
Such a strong addiction did have some pretty negative effects on our bodies and souls. The constipation was pretty severe, which is very annoying and can cause further problems. I was quite drowsy most of the time, and had very little energy. The sheer slavery of addiction is very depressing and demoralizing, although you don't really feel anything too deeply with that much opiate." Anonymous male user
I've used fentanyl many times over the course of my career as an opiate/opioid addict, and it's definitely the strongest opioid I've used, and I've used them all. I've had some very strong heroin in my days, but fentanyl is stronger. I've seen people with no opioid tolerance pass out after smoking only 2 hits. I've seen a heroin addict with a life-long tolerance nearly die from smoking fentanyl after drinking alcohol (he was revived by paramedics). My good friend Richard died because he smoked fentanyl with alcohol." Bran Man, male user
The last thing that I don't like about fentanyl is that it has caused me to experience significantly greater respiratory depression than other opiates (sometimes, it can seem like the fentanyl makes me forget to breath)." Cactushead, male user
Fentanyl addiction can be high among those who take the drug for both medical and non-medical reasons. And it's easy to see why. The drug is 80 times more powerful than morphine, gets into your system quickly, with its effects lasting a short time. Search recoverycorps.org's database for a fentanyl treatment center near you.