Fentanyl is a potent prescribed opioid drug that is prescribed to control severe pain resulting from chronic pain or cancer. The drug is triple the power of typical morphine.
The pharmaceutical version of the drug is available in many forms ranging from a nasal spray, injectable, lozenge, patch, tablet, and solution. However, illicitly produced fentanyl can be acquired in a tablet or powder form. Some individuals use it on a spiked or blotter paper. The drug is also often mixed with other street drugs.
Illicit fentanyl is consumed via snorting, swallowing or directly injecting into the body. The drug can also be placed on a blotter paper in the mouth which is then absorbed through the mucous membranes.
Given the potency of the drug, fentanyl overdoses are currently on the rise. In 2017, it was reported more than 28,000 people in the United States lost their lives due to overdose. From 2016 to 2017, the deaths resulting from opioid overdose significantly increased in 23 states and in the District of Columbia. The reports suggest these deaths resulted from the use of illicitly produced fentanyl as opposed to the prescribed version.
The reason fentanyl overdose has become common is due to the fact that it can be easily consumed in unsafe dosages. The difference between a safe dose and an overdose is very little. Since the drug is often mixed with other dangerous street drugs such as heroin and cocaine, it becomes a lethal combination that can easily kill a person if the drug is not taken under a safe dosage.
How Does Fentanyl Effect The Body?
When fentanyl is consumed, orally or injected, it activates certain opioid receptors in the body which are located in the brain where pain and emotion are controlled. Its interaction with the receptors also increases the release of dopamine, the pleasure hormone, in certain nerve cells which results in euphoria. The drug instantly slows down breathing and when taken in a high dose, can stop breathing completely.
Here are the common side effects of Fentalynl
Does Fentanyl Show On Drug Tests?
Fentanyl does show on drug tests and there are different methods that can detect it. Why are fentanyl drug tests conducted in the first place? There are many possibilities, some include –
- Some companies require testing employees randomly for drug tests to control or monitor drug tests
- Drug tests are often ordered by the court under certain legal circumstances pertaining to crime or car accident cases
- Medical professionals some time conduct a drug test to see if the patient has been following the dosage instructions properly.
The pleasurable effects of fentanyl last only for a few hours, but the drug itself can remain in the system for a very long time and can easily appear on a drug test. The chances of detection increase significantly depending on the dose, frequency, duration of the drug usage or depending on the urine concentration, impaired kidneys, or liver function of the user.
Methods of Fentanyl Drug Test
Fentanyl drug tests come in all shapes and sizes. The most common ones include urine, blood, and hair method.
- Urine Test – Fentanyl can test positive on a urine test for 24 – 72 hours after last use.
- Hair Test – Fentanyl can test positive on a hair test for up to 3 months after last use.
- Blood Test – Fentanyl can test positive on a blood test from 5 – 48 hours after last use.
Saliva tests are also quite common in detecting drug usage, but this test is unable to detect fentanyl.
Note – When fentanyl is consumed, the body breaks it down and creates a metabolite known as norfentanyl. This metabolite can stay in the body for up to 96 hours and can be tested positive in all the drug tests mentioned above.
What Happens in Case of Fentanyl Overdose?
Fentanyl is a very potent drug even when taken in a prescribed version. Sometimes patients unknowingly combine it with alcohol or benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin. When the drug is combined with these, the risk of overdose significantly increases and can result in death by respiratory arrest.
The following symptoms are observed in the case of an overdose.
- Cold, clammy skin.
- Severely slowed or stopped breathing.
- Blue lips and skin color.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Markedly constricted pupils.
Fentanyl overdose is almost always fatal but there is still a way to save a person by calling emergency medical help. Medical professionals immediately administer naloxone to the drug abuser which acts as an opioid receptor blocker. It effectively reverses the effects of all opioids including fentanyl.
Naloxone is available in many different forms and can be administered through a nasal spray or intramuscular injections.
If you or your loved one regularly use opioids, whether, for pain relief, or recreational use, it is highly recommended to keep naloxone in the home for emergency use. When someone suffers from an overdose, naloxone can be administered to save a life. Since the abuser can’t administer it themselves, it is crucial that a family member should familiarize themselves with how to use it.
Is It Possible to Safely Quit Fentanyl?
Individuals who use fentanyl develop a significant physical dependence on fentanyl and it becomes really hard to give up. When they do try to quit the drug, there are intense withdrawal symptoms, making it impossible for them to give up the drug without help.
The intensity of the symptoms depends on many factors such as frequency of use, duration of use, dosage, and more. The symptoms usually start after 12 hours of stopping the drug and they can last for up to a week. The first three days are always the hardest.
Common Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms include :
- Watery eyes.
- Feelings of depression.
- Loss of appetite.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Increased heart rate.
- Runny nose.
- Muscle pain.
Treatment options are available in many forms. The two most common and popular methods to help someone quit fentanyl are prescription medicines and therapy.
Often times both the methods are combined together to increase the effectiveness and odds of successfully helping someone quit the drug.
Buprenorphine. It is administered to the patient on its own or mixed with naloxone. The drug activates the same receptors of the brain that fentanyl acts on and helps in reducing the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and craving of the drug.
Naltrexone. This medical treatment is sometimes used post-detox. It binds to opioid receptors and prevents fentanyl from producing its effects.
Behavioral Therapies. These therapies are designed to help fentanyl users adjust their thinking patterns and behaviors around drug usage. The therapy helps them strengthen their coping skills and be able to adaptively react to triggers that are encountered after quitting the drug.
If you or your loved one is ready to give up on the use of Fentanyl, it is time to get help. A variety of different programs are available which have helped thousands quit this dangerous drug.Read More