Is Fentanyl an Opioid?

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Fentanyl is a prescription drug that has been making headlines in the news recently. Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate pain reliever used to treat severe pain and for pain management after surgical procedures. Although there are substantial health benefits for individuals who are prescribed this pain reliever, there are also serious health risks associated with the use and abuse of this drug. There has been a recent surge in fentanyl related deaths recently. Many people are unfamiliar with this drug and are unaware of the associated health risks. This article will address common questions asked about this drug. Is fentanyl an opioid? What is an opioid? What are signs and symptoms of opioid abuse? What are the risks associated with opioid use and abuse? What treatment options are available for someone suffering from opioid addiction?

Is Fentanyl an Opioid?

Yes, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), fentanyl is a schedule II prescription drug that is typically used to treat severe pain or used for pain management after a surgical procedure. Fentanyl has been classified as a schedule II drug due to its highly addictive properties and its high potential for abuse. People should be aware of the risks associated with this pain reliever and the possibility of developing both an emotional and physical dependence upon the drug. Fentanyl is similar to morphine but is 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. Many people who become addicted to fentanyl began taking the drug as prescribed after an injury or surgical procedure. Others seek out the drug for recreational use. Unfortunately, despite many health benefits associated with fentanyl, it is often abused.

What is an Opioid?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse opioids are medications that are used to relieve pain. Opioids bind to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord and work to reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and reduce feelings of pain. Opioids are used to treat moderate to severe pain. Opioid medications are meant to be prescribed to patients by doctors but unfortunately are also available through a variety of illicit channels. Some types of opioid drugs include:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl (Actiqu, Duragesic, Fentora)
  • Hydrocodone (Hysingla ER, Zohydro ER)
  • Hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
  • Mepridine (Demerol)
  • Methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
  • Morphine (Astramorph, Avinza, Kadian, MS Contin, Ora-Morph SR)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Oxecta, Roxicodone)
  • Oxycodone/acetaminophen (Percocet, Endocet, Roxicet)
  • Oxycodone and naloxone (Targiniq ER)

Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Abuse

Psychological/Mood Symptoms:

  • Continued use despite negative consequences associated with use
  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Poor judgment
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Poor concentration or attention
  • Memory problems

Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Opioids taken at higher doses and more frequently
  • Inability to cut down or stop use
  • Spending significant time trying to obtain the drug
  • Inability to tend to daily responsibilities
  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Avoidance of previously important activities
  • Continued use in dangerous situations

Physical/Physiological Symptoms:

  • Cravings for the drug
  • Sleepiness or sedation
  • Numbness or inability to feel pain
  • Depressed respiration
  • Small pupils
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Itching
  • Rashes of flushed skin
  • Constipation
  • Slurred speech
  • The development of tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms when no longer taking the drug
  • Drug is taken to avoid withdrawal symptoms

Opioid Tolerance and Addiction

After taking an opioid medication for an extended period of time, some people find that they need higher doses of the drug in order to receive the same pain relieving effects. This is referred to as tolerance. Individuals can develop a tolerance to a drug without being addicted to the drug. Addiction involves a compulsive use of a drug. When an opioid medication is taken over an extended period of time, some people experience withdrawal symptoms when they are without the drug. This is referred to as dependence. Some withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid dependence are: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, anxiety, and irritability. Becoming dependent upon a drug doesn’t necessarily mean you are addicted to the drug. Most opioid medications are classified as schedule II drugs due to being highly addictive and there being a high potential for abuse. People who are addicted to opioid medications often compulsively seek out the drug. These drug-seeking behaviors often result in negative consequences. If you are experiencing a opioid addiction, it is suggested that you seek help from an addiction specialist.

What Treatment Options Are Available For Someone Suffering From Opioid Addiction?

Fentanyl use, as well as all other opioid use, and abuse can rapidly manifest into addiction. Addiction is a disease. Emotional and physical recovery is possible. In order to help an individual suffering from addiction, it is imperative that they receive appropriate treatment. Addiction specialists are trained mental health professionals that are able to address both the addiction and the underlying issues associated with the development of the addiction. No one should deal with addiction alone. Addiction specialists can help. An addiction specialist will best be able to determine the right course of action. Outpatient treatment programs and sober living homes provide a safe and drug-free environment where addicts can receive effective treatment, gain the support of a recovery community and experience emotional and physical recovery from addiction. If you would like more information about opioid abuse, opioid addiction treatment and long term recovery, please do not hesitate to call us at (888)357-7577.



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