Fentanyl has been a hot topic in the news. Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate pain reliever used to treat severe pain. There has been a surge of fentanyl related deaths in the United States over the past couple years. Most fentanyl related deaths are due to individuals abusing the drug, tampering with the time-release mechanism and/or mixing the drug with other drugs. There are many health benefits to those prescribed this medication but the risk for developing both emotional and physical dependence is high, especially for those abusing the medication. Fentanyl is available in several different forms; spray, tablet, lozenge, and patch. Addicts are often able to disarm the time-release mechanisms of the drug in order to receive a more rapid and intense high. This is commonly seen with the fentanyl patch. Fentanyl patch abuse is on the rise. This article will explore how the fentanyl patch works, how fentanyl patches are abused.
What is a Fentanyl Patch?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate pain reliever. It is typically prescribed to patients with an injury, who are experiencing severe pain, or after a patient has undergone surgery. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and over 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl is classified as a Schedule II drug due to its high potential for abuse and the possibility of leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. Unfortunately, despite many health benefits it is often abused. Fentanyl comes in several different forms. One form the drug comes in is a transdermal patch. Transdermal fentanyl patches contain an alcohol gel infused with a specific fentanyl dose. The patch is meant to be applied to the skin and worn to provide constant pain relief over 48 to 72 hours. Transdermal fentanyl patches are generally prescribed for pain especially in palliative treatment for cancer patients and in the management of post-operative pain. Transdermal fentanyl patches are beneficial for patients who don’t tolerate other routes of administration or have adverse effects from other pain medications.
How Does the Fentanyl Patch Work?
Fentanyl is an extremely potent pain medication. It should only be used when prescribed by a doctor and should only be taken as prescribed. Fentanyl patches are meant to provide time-release pain relief over 48 to 72 hours. Once the patch is applied to the skin, fentanyl passes into the skin a little at a time. Depending on the dosage, a particular amount of the medicine must build up in the skin before it is absorbed into the individual’s bloodstream. In some cases, it takes a full 24 hours before the first dose begins to work. In some cases a doctor will prescribe an additional pain medication to be taken during this “waiting period.” Regardless of when the effects of the drug are experienced, it is imperative that patients do not increase the dose. Patients should contact the prescribing doctor with any related questions or concerns.
How Are Fentanyl Patches Abused?
Fentanyl patches are meant to provide time-release pain relief over 48 to 72 hours. Addicts employ a variety of ways to tamper with the time-release mechanism of the drug in order to receive the effects more quickly. This provides users with a more rapid and intense high. There have been a variety of documented methods of abusing fentanyl patches. Here are some of the most common ways individuals abuse fentanyl patches:
- Apply more than one patch at a time
- Changing patches more frequently than prescribed
- Extracting fentanyl from the patch and injecting the drug intravenously
- Chweing or swallowing patches
- Inserting patches into the rectum
- Inhaling fentanyl gel
- Diluting fentanyl in hot water and drinking like a tea
Don’t Wait to Intervene – Seek Help Immediately
If you are concerned that a loved one is abusing fentanyl or any other drug, it is imperative that you take action. You can never be to safe or intervene too early. Even if you believe the teen may just be “experimenting” with fentanyl or any other substance, confronting the problem is the first step. Experimentation and casual drug or alcohol use can rapidly turn into abuse, dependence or addiction. If you know someone that needs help please do not hesitate to give us a call and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Please call (888)357-7577, we are here to help!