Fentanyl is a man-made medication that is synthesized from the opium poppy. It is made of fentanyl and citric acid and is estimated to be 50-100% more potent than morphine. Fentanyl’s chemical name is N-phenyl-N propenamide.
The original prescription compound was made following a four-step process. The process included the condensing of N-Benzul-4-Piperidone and reducing it with LAH. The final step was performing the Finkelstein reaction.
Who Gets Prescribed Fentanyl?
To get a prescription for fentanyl, the individual must need relief from intense pain that is unrelenting. In some cases, it may be used during recovery from surgery. When provided through a prescription, it is generally administered as a shot, an adhesive patch to be worn on the skin, or as a lollipop or lozenge. Additionally, fentanyl can be used as anesthesia during surgery.
“40% of opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.”
Negative Effects of Fentanyl
The biggest problem with fentanyl is its rapid and potent effects. It takes very little of the drug to be extremely dangerous. As a result, many people have died from exposure to the drug. Fentanyl works by depressing the respiratory system which may result in the person stopping breathing. The potency and fast-acting mechanisms of the drug make it easy to overdose on, and the person may even die.
Do you think you might have an addiction to Fentanyl? Call 800-492-QUIT to get help today
Prescriptions for fentanyl are very low throughout the United States. However, the chemical is still a major factor in the opioid epidemic. This is due to the illegal manufacturing of the drug.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, every day in the United States, 115 people die from an opioid overdose. However, the most staggering statistic is that the fentanyl death toll rose from 3,000 to 20,000 in just three years, as reported by the NY Times.
The Fentanyl and Heroin Connection
Manufacturers also discovered that they could use fentanyl to cut heroin. Cutting heroin with fentanyl makes the substance more potent and dangerous. As a result, the illegal manufacturers can make more doses of their product in one batch, which increases their earnings.
This cutting of heroin with fentanyl is very dangerous for the unsuspecting heroin user. When an individual uses heroin but gets a product made with fentanyl, dangerous results can occur. Fentanyl makes the drug stronger, so if they use their regular dose of heroin that is cut with fentanyl, their body will not be prepared, leading to a possibly fatal overdose.
“An estimated 4 to 6 percent [of people] who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin”
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Overdose with Fentanyl
Overdosing on fentanyl is a large problem in the United States. As such, it is important for loved ones, police, first responders, and medical facilities to carry naloxone, also known as Narcan. Narcan can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. However, fentanyl requires a much higher dose of the medication for a reversal to work than other opioids.
Withdrawal from Fentanyl
The withdrawal effects from fentanyl can be quite uncomfortable and painful. When the individual stops using the drug, they can experience the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
In addition to these digestive system symptoms, there are other withdrawal symptoms. These include muscle pain, sweating, rapid heart rate, and tremors. Not to mention, the person may also experience insomnia and anxiety. These intense withdrawal effects make quitting fentanyl very difficult. In addition, due to its potency and fast-acting qualities, fentanyl use quickly leads to dependence and addiction.
Fortunately, like other opioids, a person suffering from the withdrawal effects of fentanyl can use FDA approved medications such as methadone, bupropion, and naltrexone. These prescription medications bind to the opioid receptors and block the person’s ability to “get high” off opiates. For a successful recovery, a person should also seek professional therapy and treatment through a rehab facility. Other sources of assistance include a strong support system and other professional services.