Recent deaths related to drug overdose in major North American cities have been linked to a particular opioid drug known as fentanyl. This man-made narcotic mimics the effects of naturally derived opioids but is stronger than others, often many times stronger. While there are legitimate sources of fentanyl and patients suffering from pain after surgery or following a serious injury can obtain a prescription, there are many illegal sources of the drug as well.
When a doctor prescribes this narcotic analgesic, the dosage will be administered as a patch, an injection, or taken orally. Brand names include Sublimaze and Actiq. A doctor will probably recommend that his patient slowly stop taking this medication as the body heals and the need for fentanyl diminishes. He might recommend replacing fentanyl with a weaker narcotic at first before this dose also dwindles and over-the-counter analgesics will suffice. Legal sources come from regulated labs and are dispensed by trained pharmacists.
There is no other legal source of any narcotic drug and no safe way to obtain this medication outside of a pharmacy. Illegal labs develop products which are far stronger than their legal counterparts. They also churn out drugs labeled as though they are weaker alternatives, but lace them with fentanyl to heighten one’s addictive response and ensure that their product remains in demand. These drugs are produced as powders, ingested from paper, injected, and sometimes look like other types of narcotic tablets.
Knowingly taking an illegal source of fentanyl is risky enough because of possible severe side effects. The biggest danger on today’s streets, however, is that drug users will unknowingly consume a substance so much more powerful than they were expecting or than their bodies can tolerate. Overdoses are frequently the result of this trick by drug makers and peddlers whose entire purpose is to create desperate addicts but who sometimes kill off their clientele instead. It doesn’t matter to them; another addict is already around the corner.
What Are the Serious Side Effects?
These drugs affect the part of the brain which controls breathing; thus, in the event of an overdose, it is common for one to simply stop breathing. Consequently, other medications or weaker opioids are recommended for people with asthma and other breathing problems.
Many individuals suffer heart problems related to fentanyl and weaker alternatives, including a heart attack. Take note that “weaker” does not mean “weak”; all narcotics are serious drugs which are frequently addictive and potentially dangerous. They can only be obtained legally with a prescription. Pharmacists will advise patients how to act if they are also taking other drugs for co-existing conditions and might notice a possible interaction the client’s doctor missed.
Narcotics usually cause some unpleasant side effects, but they are not life-threatening. Constipation is uncomfortable, but not compared with healing from major surgery. Nausea is unpleasant, but better than going without analgesics to help cope with injury incurred during a serious car accident.
Most consumers find that fentanyl is so strong they can’t stay awake. They feel relaxed, possibly euphoric, but definitely sleepy and even a little bit dizzy. This is nothing to worry about. If the dosage seems too high and a patient would like to feel more alert, dosages can be lowered. A doctor will happily prescribe less of these drugs if it seems appropriate to do so.
The Benefits of Narcotics
It is important not to get caught up in the negative hype surrounding fentanyl and related medications. These drugs serve an important purpose. Living with extreme pain is dangerous in its own right and can cause enough stress to rival the most dangerous side effects of an opioid painkiller. As long as consumers behave with good sense and their use of a legal, prescribed drug is monitored, fentanyl and the others can be effective and safe forms of relief from severe pain.