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Article Summary


Fentanyl is a prescription pain killer also known by the brand names Sublimaze, Actiq, Duro or Duragesic and several others. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, and is known to be fifty to one hundred times stronger on a dose by dose basis than morphine or even heroin. Although Fentanyl was first synthesized in the 1960's, the drug was first introduced for clinical use in the 1990's as a pain patch called Duragesic. Then the Actiq lollipop was introduced as were tablets known as Fentora. As of just a couple of a years ago, the Fentanyl pain patch was the most broadly utilized opioid pain killer utilized in medical practice. There is also a new sublingual spray which has been introduced for cancer patients.

Fentynal Abuse

Fentanyl patches are affixed to the skin, and provide enough of the drug to be disbursed over a 48 to 72-hour time period. If the patch malfunctions however, a life-ending dose of Fentanyl is administered too quickly and the user experiences an overdose. While Fentanyl is highly beneficial when used appropriately in medical settings for breakthrough pain, including individuals with cancer, etc. it is a drug which is often highly abused. Abusing Fentanyl, any form of it, is extremely dangerous because of how potent the drug is. Fatalities have occurred among both legitimate and non-medical Fentanyl users because of unintentional overdoses when transdermal patches have malfunctioned. Individuals who wish to abuse Fentanyl may intentionally bypass the time release function of a Fentanyl transdermal patch with the intention to receive more of the drug than was intended all at once.

Fentanyl Diversion

Fentanyl patches or other forms of the drug may be diverted from legitimate medical sources or individuals with legitimate prescriptions for the drug may sell it for profit or in exchange for some other drug. Duragesic Fentanyl patches available on the black market can be cut up and ingested orally, or some illicit users may extract the gel from the patch and smoke it. The lollipops containing Fentanyl, known by the brand name "Actiq" have also been found recently available on the black market for illicit use. The street name for this form of Fentanyl is percopop, and can be purchased for anywhere from $20-$80 on the black market depending on the dosage offered. It is also becoming a more common practice for heroin dealers to combine Fentanyl powder with the heroin they are selling, or sell their customers Fentanyl while calling it heroin. This is also been found to be the case with cocaine. This is known as "magic" or "the bomb" at street level, and has also be the direct cause of a string of unintentional overdose deaths, particularly in the North East and East Coast regions of the U.S.

Fentanyl Addiction and Treatment

Because of the risks associated with life threatening side effects and overdose, it is crucial that anyone abusing Fentanyl or any other prescription pain killer receive help immediately to stop abusing the drug before it is too late. Abruptly stopping use of any form of Fentanyl after developing dependence to it, whether it is a legitimate prescription or is an illicit form of the drug, will cause severe withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Detox services and treatment is available for anyone needing help getting off Fentanyl and other opiates, at facilities which specialize prescription drug dependence and addiction.

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