Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is more potent than morphine, oxycodone, heroin and other prescription painkillers and drugs. It is an active ingredient in several brand names, including Actiq, Duragesic and Sublimaze, and is responsible for the position of one of the most powerful opioids in the world. Fentanyl has played a major role in the increase in opioid overdose deaths in recent years, in part because of its use in combination with other opioids such as heroin.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid originally developed as a prescription drug for severe pain. It is up to 100 times stronger than morphine, which is why it is often used to treat patients who have chronic pain, such as pain following a heart attack, stroke or other serious illness. These include painkillers, anxiety medication and pain relief for depression and anxiety. Although approved by the FDA for medical use, most of the distribution and consumption of fentanyl is illegal. Although pharmaceutical fentanyl has legitimate medical uses, the epidemic of illicit fentanyl is causing problems.

How does it work?

The opioid Mu receptor is selected by opioids and binds to the receptor on the left side of the brain Fentanyl binds to the body’s opioid receptors, which are located in areas of the brain that control pain and emotion. When fentanyl binds to the receptor, it increases dopamine levels in the reward centre of the brain and creates an intense state of euphoria and relaxation. Fentanyl is said to connect to an opioid receptor in the reward centre of the brain, rather than being in any other area of the brain, including breathing control. It can be taken orally, smoked, sniffed or injected, but no single method of use is safe.

What are its side effects?

An overdose caused by fentanyl abuse is a medical emergency and, if not treated immediately, can lead to death. First responders carry opioid antagonists, which, if administered on time, can reverse an overdose and reverse the effects of opioids, but not fentanyl. Anyone taking fentanyl must be aware of the potential side effects such as pain, nausea, vomiting.

Fentanyl powder is often combined with other opioids such as heroin, crack cocaine (also known as nose candy) and prescription painkillers to enhance the euphoric effects. Those who abuse prescription drugs, heroin or heroin with fentanyl have a much higher risk of overdose and death.

Illegal drugs dealers sell and distribute fentanyl instead of heroin, which has led to an increase in overdose deaths since 2013. Worldwide, about 0.5 million deaths are attributable to drug use. More than 70% of these deaths are opioid deaths, with more than 30% of those deaths caused by overdose. People who abuse fentanyl or struggle with addiction are at greater risk of overdose themselves.

The high efficacy of fentanyl significantly increases the risk of overdose, especially if the user does not know that the powder or pill contains fentanyl. People who take it have a higher risk of overdose because they do not know what they are taking. Although heroin and fentanyl are both narcotics, they enhance each other’s effects, which significantly increases the risk of overdose.

Although fentanyl produces an incredibly strong and volatile high active ingredient, it also has devastating physiological effects that can potentially lead to death.

Fentanyl analogues, which are made in illegal laboratories, tend to cause significantly more respiratory illnesses, making them more effective than the active ingredient in heroin or cocaine. This may be because they can cause more severe side effects such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. People who have used heroin and cocaine may not know that the effectiveness of street-selling heroin/cocaine can be significantly increased by adding fentanyl. If you are unaware of or are not informed of, the addition of fentanyl to these medications, accidental overdose and death from a reduced dose may occur, even if you know about its efficacy.

The effect of fentanyl is very similar to that of heroin and cocaine and its high efficiency can be described as extremely euphoric. Although people are known to accidentally overdose on heroin with lethal amounts of fentanyl, it is not caused by an overdose. Some illegal drug manufacturers have begun using fentanyl in their heroin production, but it is still illegal all over the world.

The addiction symptoms of its abuse include Nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, euphoria, mellowness, itching, slow breathing, headaches, seizures, dizziness, blurred vision etc.

The amount of fentanyl needed for an overdose is very small compared to morphine and heroin, and that is part of what makes it so dangerous. The overdose can also lead to an increased rate of respiratory depression in the body.

How can it be cured/treated?

Drugs and behavioural therapy are effective in treating people with fentanyl and other opioid addiction. Naloxone is a drug that can be given to a person to reverse a fentanyl overdose.

If emergency responders can respond in time, they may need multiple doses of Narcan to reverse a fentanyl overdose.

There are many available therapies for the abuse of fentanyl. And if you are not misusing fentanyl deliberately, you might have been dependent on it without your conscious knowledge. In that case, your dosage can be steadily reduced before you can survive without it. However, you shouldn’t be quitting without the consultation of the doctor. They would probably consider tapering it off. This is a regulated method of lowering the dosage, which will reduce the risk of withdrawal.

There is also Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) available for handling the addiction, which takes the help of prescribed medications like Naltrexone, Buprenorphine and Methadone. Medical detox is exceptionally beneficial in helping to safely and smoothly remove fentanyl from the system and get back to a healthy physical balance. Detox followed with a substance-abuse treatment program that engages in both pharmaceutical and therapeutic tools, cravings, and other different psychological and behavioural symptoms of addiction and substance abuse will be managed and improved on a long-term basis for the betterment of health.

There is no shame in asking for help, be it for yourself or your loved ones. I hope that this article helps you in refraining from fentanyl consumption and recovering from its addiction. Let us know in the comments section about the treatment methods that you know of, in your respective region.