Fentanyl is a prescription opioid drug often used for severe cancer pain. Multiple formats are available, as people with cancer often need to switch formats as their disease progresses.
For example, someone with colorectal cancer may start with oral drugs but need a switch to injectable or transdermal patch form as their digestive system breaks down.
Some dealers sell fentanyl products they’ve stolen from pharmacies and doctors. But others make fentanyl in clandestine labs, making products that look like almost any other substance someone might buy.
Street drugs are often contaminated with fentanyl. Experts say fentanyl was responsible for more than 2,500 drug overdoses each year in 2011 and 2012, but that number rises dramatically each year. In 2018, it rose to more than 31,000. It has continued to rise since then.
Finding out about fentanyl forms can’t protect you from overdoses. Dealers can make fentanyl look like anything at all. But recognizing the forms could help you understand how the drug works.
What Are the Different Forms of Fentanyl?
The Drug Enforcement Administration recognizes multiple types of fentanyl, including the following:
Fentanyl is pressed into lollipops and lozenges, sold under the brand name Actiq. Active ingredients move into your bloodstream very slowly, making this type of drug very dangerous. If you enjoy the taste and don’t recognize how high you are, you could take too much and overdose.
Edibles are also very dangerous for families with children. Your kids may believe the stash they found is candy, and they could eat it and overdose.
Tablets & Capsules
Fizzy tablets you place inside the cheek are sold under the brand name Fentora. Tablets you can put beneath the tongue are sold as Abstral. These products are dangerous, as they can be chewed for an immediate high or crushed and snorted for the same purpose. Their intense effect puts all users at risk.
You can spray a liquid beneath your tongue (Subsys) or inside your nose (Lazanda). These formulations deliver strong changes in seconds and can be very addictive. Any drug capable of changing your emotions almost immediately can be hard to forget, and you’re likely tempted to use them again.
A fentanyl-infused bandage you can place on your skin (Duragesic) could be useful for people who can’t digest fentanyl. However, these products can be dangerous as dosing is difficult. By the time you realize you’ve had too much, it could be too late.
Discarding them safely is hard, as these patches retain their power even after someone has worn them for days. Children and pets could be exposed to fentanyl if they touch used patches.
Generic forms of fentanyl are available to doctors for people in hospital environments. If you’re struggling with severe pain, these medications could be very helpful.
But these formulations are very dangerous. You might not realize you’ve loaded too much into the needle until it’s deep inside your body.
Dealers typically make fentanyl in powdered formats. They can mix this substance into powdered drugs for sale (like cocaine) or push this powder into tablets and pills they can sell as Xanax, MDMA or some other pill.
You can’t smell, taste or see fentanyl powder. It’s almost impossible for people to understand if the drug they’re about to take is stronger than expected. Many people don’t even know they bought a drug that contains any fentanyl.
Using Suboxone for OUD
Fentanyl is a very powerful drug, and repeated use is capable of sparking an opioid use disorder (OUD). Overcoming that problem without help isn’t easy.
Opioids like fentanyl change your brain chemistry, ensuring you feel sick when you quit using them. Flu-like symptoms accompanied by severe drug cravings could make you take another dose even when you want to quit.
If you work through withdrawal, your cravings could make you relapse. The brain changes that have come about from chronic drug use can make you feel like you’re incapable of living a healthy life without drugs.
Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist, capable of correcting these persistent chemical imbalances. Using the medication can help you to get sober without withdrawal symptoms, and the dose could help you stay sober over the long term.
In a study of Suboxone’s efficacy, 25% of people relapsed into using drugs while using the medication. By contrast, 100% of people relapsed into using drugs without Suboxone.
If you’ve tried to quit drugs and relapsed, consider Suboxone. Talk to your doctor to find out if this therapy is right for you.
Here at Bicycle Health, we offer MAT with Suboxone. This life-saving treatment can help you stop misusing fentanyl and all opioids. Reach out today to learn more about how MAT can change your life.
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD
Peter Manza, PhD received his BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a research scientist in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the role ... Read More
- Fentanyl. Drug Enforcement Administration. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Fentanyl-2020_0.pdf. June 2020. Accessed March 2023.
- Fentanyl. Drug Enforcement Administration. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/drug_chem_info/fentanyl.pdf. December 2016. Accessed March 2023.
- How Effective Are Medications to Treat Opioid Use Disorders. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/medications-to-treat-opioid-addiction/efficacy-medications-opioid-use-disorder. December 2021. Accessed March 2023.
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