Yes, Fentanyl is prescribed by doctors to patients who suffer extreme pain. In prescription form, it is known as Duragesic, Sublimaze, or Actiq. Prescription Fentanyl is not common, due to its highly addictive qualities.
Fentanyl is a more effective pain reliever than morphine and is only administered in the most extreme cases of chronic pain, when other prescription narcotics aren’t doing the job. Patients who have recently undergone surgery or cancer treatment, or are dealing with severe injuries, are the most likely candidates for Fentanyl because other pain relievers have lost their potency as tolerance has built up in the patient’s system.
Sometimes patients who are regularly on other potent pain relievers are given a dose of Fentanyl to boost the effectiveness. It is not meant for continued, on-going use, especially because of its tendency to lead to dependence.
Doctors prescribe Fentanyl transdermal patches, as well as lozenge, pill and film forms. In the latter forms, the drug is absorbed through the mouth. These are generally low-dosage products. In more extreme forms, it can be injected, like during surgery. Dosage needs to be monitored very carefully, however, as even the slightest bit too much can lead to death.
If a person becomes dependent on Fentanyl, they are at risk for extreme symptoms such as coma, and even respiratory arrest leading to death. Since it can be administered very carefully by medical professionals,that is the only way it should be ingested. Beyond the confines of medical facilities and administration, it becomes very dangerous.
Dependence develops because of the way narcotics inhibit the body’s ability to feel pleasure through natural sources, by interfering with receptors in the brain. When Fentanyl is ingested, it blocks opiate receptors and therefore causes build-up of dopamine. The heightened levels of dopamine in the brain create the feeling of euphoria, or high. From the first use onward, abusers chase that initial high, which will never be experienced in the same intensity again.
Fentanyl use is only safe when used to relieve intense pain. When used recreationally, it is dangerous because of the chase. As the abuser chases that initial, intense high, they tend to administer higher and higher dosages, running the risk of experiencing extreme side effects.
The side effect specific to Fentanyl is its ability to calm the body. Users not only stop feeling pain and feel high, they feel very relaxed. Some opioid drugs increase blood pressure and elevate bodily functions, but Fentanyl slows them down. The user will often feel drowsy and fatigued. This often leads them to fall asleep. However, once asleep, it is very easy for their respiratory system to slow to a halt. Many Fentanyl users die in their sleep, because the body shuts down. It doesn’t take a high dosage to cause this to happen. It does, however, require higher and higher doses for the user to get high after the first exposure, so as they increase their dosage to meet that demand, they risk overdosing. When prescribed by doctors, however, this is less likely to happen because dosage can be monitored and limited properly.