Fentanyl is a potent opioid drug. Even though it is a legal prescription, it is commonly found in the illegal drug market. The drug is often laced with other substances such as cocaine, Xanax, and oxycodone, to mention a few.
On its own, fentanyl is lethal, as it can lead to fatal overdoses when abused. If combined with other drugs, fentanyl can become even more dangerous. With the proper treatment of opioid addiction, however, recovery is possible.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid developed as an analgesic for surgical procedures. The drug is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. As a result, it is one of the leading causes of drug overdoses in the United States.
There are two categories of fentanyl: pharmaceutical fentanyl and illegally manufactured fentanyl. Both fall under synthetic opioids. Doctors prescribe pharmaceutical fentanyl as a pain-reliever after surgery or in late-stage cancer.
Most cases of fatal fentanyl overdoses are caused by illegally manufactured fentanyl. Illegally distributed fentanyl is usually distributed in the outlawed drug markets for its heroin-like stimulation. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) can be readily bought in the drug market in either liquid or powder form.
IMF has several street names, such as:
- Dance Fever
- Murder 8
Side Effects of Fentanyl
Here are the common side effects of fentanyl:
- Stomach pain
- Chest pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive gas
- Weight loss
- Trouble urinating
Fentanyl can also cause serious side effects. Get immediate medical help if you experience any of the following:
- Sudden changes in your heartbeat
- Irritability and hallucinations
- Problems with getting or sustaining an erection
- Irregular periods
If you experience any of the following, discontinue the medication immediately and call 911:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Very slow and shallow breathing
While these are just but the common side effects of fentanyl use, the list is not exhaustive. Older people are more likely to experience adverse side effects from fentanyl use than young people. In light of this, doctors should closely monitor patients in this age group. Call your doctor immediately if you notice unusual signs while taking the medication.
What Drugs are Laced with Fentanyl?
When fentanyl is mixed with other illegal drugs, the chances of addiction, health risks, and overdose increase. Fentanyl is extremely dangerous when combined with other drugs due to its high potency and ability to cause breathing problems. It can be purchased in the illegal drug market in its mixed form. Some examples include fentanyl-laced cocaine, fentanyl-laced weed, and fentanyl-laced heroin.
1. Fentanyl-Laced Heroin
Fentanyl and heroin are potent opioids that are highly addictive and life-threatening if abused. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2019 Assessment found a close link between heroin and fentanyl markets. Drug peddlers often secretly add fentanyl to heroin powder to increase their product’s supply and potency.
One crucial factor to note about lacing heroin with fentanyl is that it can cause death within minutes! Unfortunately, it is not easy to tell if heroin has been mixed with fentanyl because they appear very similar. However, you can tell the drugs apart by looking at the color – heroin is a yellow powder, while fentanyl is white.
2. Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine
Fentanyl is also commonly mixed with cocaine in the illegal drug market. On its own, cocaine is dangerous, as it strains the heart by increasing blood pressure and the breathing rate. A cocaine overdose makes one more susceptible to a heart attack or a stroke. The impacts are even worse when cocaine is mixed with fentanyl.
3. Fentanyl-Laced Marijuana
Fentanyl-laced marijuana transforms a relatively safe street drug into a deadly drug. When marijuana is mixed with fentanyl, it causes an increase in cases of addiction and overdoses. Mixing fentanyl with marijuana has not yet become a trend. However, individuals in areas where this type of mixing has been identified should take extra caution.
Fentanyl Overdose and Dangers
As mentioned, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are the most common drugs associated with overdoses in the United States. According to recent statistics, 150 people lose their lives due to overdoses from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl daily. In addition, some drugs may contain lethal levels of opioids, but this may be extremely difficult to know.
An individual can use fentanyl test strips to look for drug traces. These strips are affordable and give results in five minutes or less. However, even with negative results, one should still take caution. In some cases, the strip may be unable to detect highly potent fentanyl-like drugs.
Signs of Fentanyl Overdose
The following are the top signs of a fentanyl overdose that one should look out for:
- Constricted pupils
- Difficulty breathing
- Choking sounds
- Cold skin
Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction
Fentanyl addiction is life-threatening and should not be taken lightly. Enrolling in a drug rehab facility is the most effective way an addict can get help for their addiction. Many health problems are associated with long-term opioid use.
Therefore, quitting cold turkey without supervision from a health professional can cause a relapse. Then, the addict returns to drug use, leading to another overdose.
Here are some common strategies used by rehab facilities to help a patient recover from opioid addiction:
- Behavioral therapies to assist with identifying and avoiding trigger factors
- Individual therapy sessions aimed at helping get to the root cause of addiction
- Group therapy sessions that allow support from peers
Opioid Treatment in San Diego
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be dangerous and lead to overdose. Drugs are commonly laced with fentanyl and can cause additional issues. If opioid addiction occurs, treatment can be necessary to find long-term recovery.
If you or a loved one are struggling with fentanyl or opioid abuse, reach out to Healthy Life Recovery in San Diego today. Our team can answer any questions you may have and give you a better understanding of our opioid addiction outpatient.