Detrimental Fentanyl Overdose Symptoms: 15 Shocking Side Effects

Fentanyl1 is often used to handle aches and chronic pain relief (unexpected incidents of pain which arise amidst 24-hour hospitalisation with opioid analgesics) in people with cancer who are at least 18 years old or who are tolerant of the consequences of opiate pain relievers.2

Fentanyl belongs to the narcotic (opiate) analgesics class of drugs. It works by altering the brain’s and nervous system’s responses to pain.

In the following article, there will be an in-depth discussion about illicit substance abuse, withdrawal and fentanyl overdose symptoms.3

1. What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a medication that is comparable to other opioid drugs and it is used to treat severe pain induced by surgeries and tumour cells.

Fentanyl compounds activate a category of opioid receptor processes localised in the brain among neuroanatomical regions and are primarily implicated with mood regulation, agony, and, most crucially, pleasure. It’s a Mu-selective opioid agonist biochemically.

It can, however, stimulate alternative opioid pathway transmitters, including that of the delta and presumably the kappa receptors4. As a result, analgesia is produced once those receptors, specifically the Mu-receptors, are stimulated.

In addition, the neurotransmitter dopamine 5(Da) is elevated in the rewarding structures of the brain, inducing the conventional euphoria and relaxing effects6. It is typically linked to drug addiction and possibly even fentanyl overdose.

fentany loverdose symptoms
Brett Jordan from Unsplash, Copyright February 2019.

1.1. How Is Fentanyl Used to Treat Severe Pain?

Unlike other drugs, Intravenously (IV), Intramuscularly (IM), Transdermally (TD) as skin patches (transdermal fentanyl), Intranasally (IN) as a volatile nasal spray, and Intrathecally (IT) are the most common ways to give fentanyl (IT).

It’s also obtainable as an oral dissolving thin layer, similar to sublingual tablets, that dissipates in the mouth.

In the United States, synthetic opioids7, like fentanyl, are currently the most commonly used medications in fatal overdoses.

Fentanyl addiction was responsible for 59.8% of opiate mortality in 2017, as opposed to 14.3% in 2010. Synthetic fentanyl is sold illegally as a powder, blotting paper, ocular droppers, nasal sprays, and tablets that resemble some other prescribed painkillers.

2. Addiction

The most severe manifestation of a drug is an addiction (substance use disorder or SUD). SUDs are marked by obsessive substance acquisition or use, which can be harder to monitor despite adverse consequences.

When somebody is addicted to opioids, they tend to use these despite the fact that they can cause health issues or problems in the workplace, in educational places, or in the family.

SUDs might vary in severity from moderate to severe. When those dependent on fentanyl, or those suffering from a fentanyl overdose cease using it, they might experience hallucinations and delusions even after several moments of using it.

2.1. How Does It Start?

There comes a point in people’s lives where they feel the need to explore in order to boast about having lived an adventurous life. Teenagers and young adults are the ones who are the most curious in the global population.

Various cliques are created and in order to fit into one such group, they tend to do what the others do, bandwagon liking towards something that they probably haven’t heard of before, or never really liked.

2.1.1. Peer Pressure

Peer pressure entails negative consequences due to a form of adolescent egocentrism8 called personal fable where they believe that no harm can come to them as they are unique. Therefore, reckless driving and abusing hard drugs are usually at a peak at this age.

However, it is important to note that mental health issues could also lead a person towards drug abuse regardless of their age in order to feel that euphoria.

2.1.2. Common Drugs

The most common drugs involved are heroin, cocaine, alcohol and opioids. Fentanyl is one such opioid that is abused widely and hence, it is advisable for readers to educate themselves on the possible fentanyl overdose symptoms.

3. Side Effects

Fentanyl addiction has negative consequences that are comparable to that of heroin, including

  1. Ecstasy,
  2. Disorientation,
  3. Respiratory depression (which, if severe or neglected, can lead to mortality),
  4. Lethargy,
  5. Vertigo,
  6. Ocular distortions,
  7. Dyskinesia,
  8. Hallucinations,
  9. Psychosis (as well as a subcategory known as “narcotic delirium”),
  10. Relaxation,
  11. Constipation,
  12. Opiate emesis,
  13. Contractures,
  14. Bowel problems,
  15. Addictions.

Alcohol and many other substances such as cocaine and heroin can exacerbate the detrimental effects of fentanyl, yielding multi-layered possible scenarios that can be difficult to treat. Whenever these substances are taken, they induce adverse circumstances that make the patient’s survival rate more difficult.

fentanyl overdose symptoms
Towfiqu Barbhuiya from Unsplash Copyright June 2021.

4. Fentanyl Overdose Symptoms

When a substance causes major signs and symptoms of side effects and life-threatening conditions, it is called an overdose or an opioid overdose. When humans consume too much fentanyl, their respiration could become irregular or even halt.

This could lead to a decrease in the quantity of oxygen central nervous system, known medically as hypoxia. Hypoxia can cause a coma, lasting neurological damage, and even drug overdose deaths if not treated at the earliest.

Because of its strength, fentanyl is highly addictive, which leads to increased dangers of fentanyl abuse and manifests itself in the form of fentanyl overdose symptoms.

When a person takes prescribed fentanyl as directed by a doctor, they may develop dependencies, which manifests as symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal when the medicine intake is terminated.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), fentanyl is a synthesized opioid with a potency of 8- 10 times that of morphine. It leads to drug abuse as it can be mixed into heroin to make it more strong, or it can be camouflaged as particularly toxic heroin which increases the chances of a suspected fentanyl overdose.

Street names of fentanyl are Apace, China Girl, China Town, China White, Dance Fever, Goodfellas, Great Bear, He-Man, Poison, and Tango & Cash. Mexico is the primary source of illegally made illicit fentanyl.

5. Drug Overdose Deaths

According to the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), it was medically reviewed that since 1999, nearly 841,000 people have died as a result of a drug overdose.

In the United States, 70,630 people died from drug overdoses in 2019. From 2018 (20.7 per 100,000) to 2019, the maturity level percentage of fatal overdoses climbed by more than 4%. (21.6 per 100,000).

Painkillers, particularly synthetic opioid medication 9(apart from methadone), are the leading cause of opioid overdose deaths globally.

Recombinant opioids are involved in 72.9 per cent of opioid addictions and overdoses. Substance deaths involving psychoactive medication like methamphetamine are on the rise, with and without the use of opioid medications.

With respect to what’s mentioned above, one would ask, how are fentanyl overdose symptoms treated?

6. Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Fentanyl abuse and fentanyl overdose symptoms are treatable and sometimes fatal problems defined by recommending procedures, a patient’s lack of awareness of the hazards of prescription drug misuse, drug delivery errors, and medicinal misuse.

Three characteristics are crucial to comprehending prescription opioid toxicities.

  • Organ Failure

To begin with, an overload of pain relievers could have life-threatening consequences on multiple organ systems and it is the first characteristic of fentanyl overdose symptoms.

  • Pharmacokinetics

Secondly, with it is typical to see that the physicochemical features are frequently altered, which can significantly prolong impairment.

  • Onset

Thirdly, the onset of action of fentanyl overdose symptoms differs with opioid compositions, and failing to understand these differences can lead to erroneous clinical judgment, which can be fatal.

To breathe, hypoxia patients require pharmaceutical or artificial stimulation. Ventilation should be administered with a bag valve mask for persons with coma or who have severe breathing problems.

Chin-lift and occlusal movements must be tested to validate that anatomical placement aids in reducing hypercarbia.

Even though the link between both carbon dioxide pressure and respiratory failure is ambiguous, providing proper breathability is a simple response that has the guaranteed advantages of reviving oxygen delivery and deterring the speculated sympathetic spurt that causes pulmonary oedema after apnea reversal.

6.1. Naloxone

Medical professionals administer naloxone to control and treat fentanyl overdose symptoms. The opioid overdose antidote, naloxone, is a competitive mu-opioid–receptor antagonist that reverses all indicators of intoxication.

It is effective when administered by percutaneous, olfactory, or respiratory routes, but has minimal bioavailability when administered orally due to substantial first-pass absorption.

Plasma concentrations of naloxone are originally lower in people with opiate dependency, the dosage is larger, and the clearance half-life is greater than in individuals lacking dependence and fentanyl overdose symptoms.

When naloxone for grownups is taken intravenously, the beginning of effect is less than 2 minutes, and the perceived onset of action is 20 to 90 minutes, which is substantially shorter than many opioids.

7. Conclusion

Several measures may be employed to prevent the harm caused by fentanyl overdose symptoms, which are one of the most productive pain relievers.

Healthcare providers who recommend these drugs should be aware of the fundamentals of relatively secure narcotic pharmacokinetics, monitor the psychiatric conditions of possible opioid beneficiaries, conduct behavioural laboratory tests and urinary screens to trace controversial fentanyl use or use electronic medical monitoring tools to screen patients who are obtaining opiates from myriad doctors.

Producers of pain relievers ought to be meticulous in about there promotion of their products, help finance the organic growth of unbiased formulary knowledge about fentanyl overdose symptoms, and distribute infant equipment and educational resources to practitioners, clients, and communities to help avoid opioid publicity in youngsters.

Lastly, people should be informed that narcotic analgesia does not work for all types of pain.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that oversees healthcare initiatives to strengthen the country’s health outcomes and the lives of those who suffer from mental health or substance use disturbances, as well as their families.

The objective of SAMHSA is to diminish the effect of chemical dependency including fentanyl overdose symptoms and psychological problems in communities throughout the United States.

In English and Spanish, the National Helpline offers support for people recommendations and resources about psychiatric and/or substance use problems, management, rehabilitation, and restoration.

7. Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What Happens When You Have Too Much Fentanyl?

When people overdose on fentanyl, their breathing can slow or stop. This can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia can lead to a coma permanent brain damage, and even death.

Q2. What Are the Results of an Overdose?

A large overdose can cause a person to stop breathing and die if not treated right away. The person may need to be admitted to the hospital to continue treatment. Depending on the drug, or drugs taken, multiple organs may be affected, Affecting the person’s outcome and chances of survival.

Q3. What Are the Complications of Drug Toxicity?

Coma, nerve and heart problems, hand tremors, etc.

Drug Addiction In The United States A Murky Reality
Icy Health
  1. Armenian, Patil, et al. “Fentanyl, fentanyl analogs and novel synthetic opioids: a comprehensive review.” Neuropharmacology 134 (2018): 121-132. ↩︎
  2. Savage, Seddon R. “Long-term opioid therapy: assessment of consequences and risks.” Journal of pain and symptom management 11.5 (1996): 274-286. ↩︎
  3. Kuczyńska, Katarzyna, et al. “Abuse of fentanyl: An emerging problem to face.” Forensic science international 289 (2018): 207-214. ↩︎
  4. Vanderah, Todd W. “Delta and kappa opioid receptors as suitable drug targets for pain.” The Clinical journal of pain 26 (2010): S10-S15. ↩︎
  5. Basu, Sujit, and Partha Sarathi Dasgupta. “Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, influences the immune system.” Journal of neuroimmunology 102.2 (2000): 113-124. ↩︎
  6. Lukas, Scott E., Jack H. Mendelson, and Richard Benedikt. “Electroencephalographic correlates of marihuana-induced euphoria.” Drug and alcohol dependence 37.2 (1995): 131-140. ↩︎
  7. Beardsley, Patrick M., and Yan Zhang. “Synthetic opioids.” New Psychoactive Substances: Pharmacology, Clinical, Forensic and Analytical Toxicology (2018): 353-381. ↩︎
  8. Schwartz, Paul D., Amanda M. Maynard, and Sarah M. Uzelac. “Adolescent egocentrism: a contemporary view.” Adolescence 43.171 (2008). ↩︎
  9. Prekupec, Matthew P., Peter A. Mansky, and Michael H. Baumann. “Misuse of novel synthetic opioids: a deadly new trend.” Journal of addiction medicine 11.4 (2017): 256-265. ↩︎

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Samraggee Bhattacharya

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