Fentanyl is a narcotic or opiate-type synthetic drug (called opioids) and is measured in the same group as morphine when calculating its strength. The painkiller Fentanyl is calculated at 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Other brand names for this drug include Abstral, Duragesic, Fentora, Lazanda, Onsolis and Subsys. This drug must be formulated carefully to avoid overdoses.

This medication is used to help relieve severe ongoing pain (such as due to cancer). It works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain.  Fentanyl should never be used to relieve pain that is mild or that will go away in a few days.

Like heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs, Fentanyl works by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions. When opioid drugs bind to these receptors, they can drive up dopamine levels in the brain’s reward areas, producing a state of euphoria and relaxation.  Fentanyl’s effects resemble those of heroin and include euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, tolerance, addiction, respiratory depression and arrest, unconsciousness, coma, and sometimes death.  This medication is not for occasional (“as needed”) use.

Side effects of Fentanyl

Here are the most commonly reported side effects of users of Fentanyl:

• Nausea and vomiting
• Dizziness
• Drowsiness
• Lethargy, tiredness, weakness
• Shortness of breath
• Difficulty breathing
• Swelling of hands, feet, ankles
• Headaches
• Fever
• Respiratory depression
• Hypoventilation
• Blurred vision
• Chest pains
• Confusion
• Convulsions
• Cough
• Decreased urine
• Difficult or labored breathing
• Dry mouth
• Fainting
• Increased thirst
• Irregular heartbeat
• Light headedness
• Loss of appetite
• Lowered back or side pain
• Mood changes
• Muscles pain or cramps
• Nervousness
• Numbness or tingling in hands, feet or lips
• Painful or difficult urination
• Pale skin
• Pounding in ears
• Rapid breathing
• Sneezing
• Sore throat
• Sunken eyes
• Swelling of hands, ankles, feet or lower legs
• Tightness in chest
• Troubled breathing with exertion
• Ulcers, sores or white spots in mouth
• Unusual bleeding or bruising
• Unusual tiredness or weakness
• Wrinkled skin

The less common side effects of Fentanyl are:

• Abdominal or stomach pains
• Change in walking and balance
• Decreased awareness and responsiveness
• Decreased frequency of urination
• Headaches
• Seeing, hearing or feeling things that are not there
• Seizures
• Severe constipation
• Severe sleepiness
• Shakiness in the legs, arms, hands or feet
• Slow or fast heartbeat
• Thinking abnormalities
• Trembling and shaking of the hands or feet

Effects of Fentanyl Withdrawal

• Extreme restlessness
• Yawning
• Sweating
• Watery eyes and runny nose
• Chills
• Muscle and bone pain
• Anxiety
• Irritability
• Weakness
• Stomach cramps
• Insomnia
• High blood pressure

Two major effects of Fentanyl are addiction and overdose. It should be noted that some people will become addicted to Fentanyl without ever abusing it. In other words, they will only take it as directed by a doctor, but they can be completely addicted to the drug on a physical level. This person can usually be weaned off the drug by a physician and not need further treatment. But when a person uses this drug for escape from life’s problems, the addiction is going to be both physical and psychological. This person will need drug rehabilitation to recover on both fronts.

A surge in overdose deaths related to Fentanyl has prompted Baltimore health officials to launch a public health campaign to raise awareness among drug users. Hundreds of people have overdosed on Fentanyl across the nation since 2013, often as a result of using heroin that has been laced with the much stronger substance. A quarter of drug overdose deaths in Maryland now involve Fentanyl, up from 4 percent in 2013. Other parts of the country such as Detroit and surrounding suburbs are also seeing major surges in Fentanyl use and Fentanyl related deaths. In some cases users are unknowingly taking Fentanyl in what they believe to be pure heroin, but a growing number of opioid users are deliberately taking Fentanyl.

It’s obvious from this list of effects that abusing Fentanyl is a very dangerous and often can be a miserable nightmare. A person who is addicted to drugs like this very often loses his ability to make rational decisions. When withdrawal symptoms kick in hard, it is terribly difficult to stick with one’s decision to get sober. Be aware of these effects and decide for yourself if you want yourself or a family member to be the victim of this drug!