What Is Fentanyl?

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opiate analgesic used to treat pain and is abused for its heroin-like effects

Fentanyl is an opioid analgesic used to treat moderate to severe pain after surgery or as a result of chronic pain that is not well managed by other opioids or non-steroidal analgesics. It is similar to morphine and works by bonding to opioid receptors, changing the way the body perceives pain and reducing the emotional response to pain. Fentanyl is often used when other pain medications no longer work or when there is breakthrough pain. It is often used in cancer patients who are already taking morphine or oxycodone.

Fentanyl is available in pill form, as a lozenge, skin patch, injection or as a film that dissolves in your mouth. It also comes as a nasal spray or is administered through an IV. Using fentanyl exactly as prescribed by your doctor is important, as having too much of the drug in your system can lead to serious problems and even death. Use of fentanyl can lead to drug dependence, which can cause the body to expect the medication. Dependence on fentanyl is different from addiction, but using it in larger amounts or for longer periods of time than prescribed by a physician can lead to addiction.

Like other opioids, fentanyl has many potential side effects. Some of these side effects include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe constipation
  • Skin conditions, such as irritation, itching or hives

Older adults should exercise caution when using fentanyl, especially those with chronic lung disease, such as chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder (COPD) or asthma.

Fentanyl is a powerful pain reliever and should not be used by individuals who have not been treated with other opioids first. If other opioids are not allowing a person to manage his or her pain, or breakthrough pain is present, only then should fentanyl be an option. It can impair balance, reduce coordination and can make thinking difficult. Driving or operating any type of machinery while taking fentanyl can be dangerous. People who take it should not drink alcohol as it can lead to dangerous drug interactions. Fentanyl can interact with many other drugs and combining it with other medication can lead to accidental overdose and even death.

Finding Help for Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid used to treat pain when other medications have stopped working, such as in the case of cancer. It is highly habit forming and the body can become dependent on the drug in a short period of time. If you or a loved one struggles with fentanyl abuse, we are here to help you. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about treatment options.

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