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Fentanyl is the generic form of a synthetic opioid prescription medication. It is manufactured both legally and illegally. Fentanyl is used to treat patients with severe pain, as it carries similar characteristics of morphine, but is between fifty to one hundred times more potent. Fentanyl works by affecting one’s neurotransmitters in the brain. The drug creates excess dopamine in one’s system, which gives off a feeling of extreme pleasure or euphoria. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified fentanyl as a Schedule II Substance, which are defined as “drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” When prescribed, and taken under the direct supervision of a medical professional, fentanyl can be a highly effective medication. 

How Long Will It Last?

The half-life, meaning the length of time the substance will remain in one’s system until the concentration in one’s blood has been reduced by half, of fentanyl is variable as it depends on its method of ingestion. When fentanyl is administered intravenously the average half-life is between 2 to 4 hours in adults. Therefore, it will take between 11 to 22 hours to fully leave one’s system. If an individual uses fentanyl in the form of a lozenge or patch the half-life is approximately 7 to 17 hours long, which means it will take about 36 hours for the fentanyl to completely leave one’s system.  

Side Effects

As is true with any medication, there are a number of side effects that can develop when taking fentanyl. Some of the commonly reported symptoms and effects of fentanyl use, according to the Mayo Clinic, include the following examples:

  • Constipation
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Elation 
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sedation
  • Unconsciousness
  • Anxiety
  • Weight gain
  • Stomach pain

It is important to note that a tolerance to fentanyl can be developed overtime. Certain factors (e.g., personal health history, potency of substance, presence of additional co-morbid disorders, abuse of additional substances, duration of substance abuse, etc.) will contribute to the severity of symptoms presented, as well as the longevity of one’s symptoms. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.