Fentanyl belongs to a group of drug called opioids, sometimes referred to as a narcotic. These drugs are derived from the Asian Poppy Plant. Doctors use fentanyl as a part of anesthesia to prevent pain after surgery or other medical procedures. The Food and Drug Administration considered the drug as a Schedule II prescription drug. Fentanyl helps people who suffer from severe pain who otherwise cannot be treated with other drugs. Some people develop tolerance to other opioids, fentanyl serves as their last chance of treatment for pain.
Branded names of Fentanyl include:
- Fentanyl citrate
However, fentanyl goes a lot of names in the street such as:
- China girl
- Drop dead
- Murder 8
- China white
- Serial killer
Different kinds of pain need various types of treatment. In relation to this, fentanyl comes in several forms like:
- oral tablets
- nasal sprays
Fentanyl Patches is a form of fentanyl medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. As a narcotic pain medicine, using the patches may become habit-forming leading to addiction. Doctors commonly prescribe fentanyl transdermal patches for cancer patients suffering from severe chronic pain due to the disease. In such occasions, patients need continuous drug treatment for their pain. The patches adhere to the skin and releases fentanyl constantly for a long period of time. Once applied, fentanyl patches can release chemicals lasting about 48 to 73 hours. Even when removed, fentanyl still has an effect around 13 to 24 hours. Typically, doctors and addiction treatment centers prescribe low dose of fentanyl and gradually increase dosage as needed. The recommended dose is not more than once every three days or not more than once every six days. Slowly increasing dosage or tapering off, ensure the safety of patients. An individual who suffers moderate pain will not be prescribed more than what they need to avoid drug dependence. Slowly tapering off from fentanyl patches will avoid any withdrawal symptoms that users may experience. In opiate drugs, abruptly stopping from medication can result to intense withdrawal period. Doctors need to carefully watch for any dependence, tolerance, and misuse of the drug to prevent addiction.
How fentanyl patches are abuse
Users sometimes choose to obtain patches because of its availability. The patches can still produce ample amounts of fentanyl. Users remove the gel substance, abusing it by:
- eating the gel
- sticking it under the tongue
- smoking it
- snorting the drug
- preparing it for injection
If use against its intended prescription, it can lead to tolerance resulting to addiction and overdose.
Side effects of Fentanyl Patches
Just like other opiates, fentanyl patch can cause severe and serious breathing problems. The risk increases when patients first started using the drug or in higher doses. It is important to always follow medical prescription when using fentanyl patch. Do not use the drug if:
- when users already develop tolerance to other narcotic pain reliever
- right after surgery
- if the pain is mild, or use as-needed pain relief
- For long-term use.
Taking other medication can greatly increase fentanyl’s potency as well as its adverse effects. Medications that may escalate the risk of fentanyl include:
Fentanyl Side Effects
Fentanyl can cause respiratory problems like decreased breathing or slow heart rate. Transdermal patches can produce several skin reactions particularly in the site of application. Redness and swelling may occur which can last for 6 hours after the removing the patch.
Other side effects of fentanyl include:
- dry mouth
- abdominal cramps
- loss of appetite
Other severe effects include:
- respiratory depression
- severe low blood pressure
- slow heart rate
- paralytic ileus
- cardiac arrest
- difficulty in breathing
- death due to drug overdose
Other risks involved when using fentanyl patches:
- Improper disposal of the patches can lead to accidental ingestion or exposure to fentanyl. It can result serious adverse reactions especially in children.
- Exposing fentanyl patches to heat can cause immediate and concentrated release of the drug into the skin. This can cause serious fatal effects including overdose.
- Using fentanyl patches during pregnancy can cause drug dependence of the fetus to the drug. Newborn babies can immediately suffer life-threatening fentanyl withdrawal symptoms once born.
Things to avoid when using fentanyl patches
Heat may trigger rapid release of fentanyl into the skin causing serious adverse effects. It is important to avoid activities and exposure to:
- electric blankets
- heat lamps
- hot tubs
- heated waterbeds
- heating pads
- long hot showers
- other activities that may increase body temperature
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