Fentanyl Drug Abuse
Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid, or narcotic, drug that is available by prescription in lozenges, tablets, transdermal patches, nasal sprays, films that can be dissolved under the tongue and injections. It is used primarily for treating patients who have severe pain, particularly pain due to cancer. Fentanyl is also called China White, China Girl, TNT and Apache. On the street, it can be found as a powder or on blotter paper, reported the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
In The Body
Fentanyl is an opioid analgesic drug that depresses the central nervous system. Similar to heroin and other prescription painkillers, fentanyl binds to opioid receptors in the brain, nervous system and other organs to block a person’s perception of pain. People who take fentanyl also affect the brain’s reward system, particularly through the release of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure, reward and other pleasant feelings.
Opioid use disorders including fentanyl abuse and addiction can affect anyone who is of any age, but there are particular characteristics that increase a person’s risk. For example, people are more likely to begin abusing opioids such as fentanyl, heroin and other prescription opioids when they are young adults or teenagers.
People may abuse fentanyl for its euphoric, relaxation, pain reducing and pleasurable effects. Fentanyl abuse can produce effects that are similar to heroin, but stronger. As with other forms of the drug, fentanyl transdermal patches can also be habit-forming. Fentanyl patch abuse may occur when a person overuses the patches, has another mental disorder, a history of substance abuse, or if another family member has a substance use disorder.
Some common fentanyl abuse side effects may include the following, according to the NIDA:
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Small pupils