Fentanyl was developed as a potent prescription painkiller, specifically prescribed to people with chronic pain who had developed a tolerance for other long-acting narcotic pain relievers or who were suffering pain at the end of life.This medicine is between 50 and 100 times more powerful than morphine, from which it is derived. Although the drug can be injected or taken orally (via a lollipop or lozenge), a common ingestion method is to take the drug transdermally through patches. Duragesic is the most recognized brand name for fentanyl patches.
Reports of fentanyl abuse, including mixing fentanyl into heroin, have been reported more across the United States since 2015. Coming into accidental contact with the sticky side of the patch can cause the drug to be released into the bloodstream. For people with little or no tolerance to narcotics, especially children, this can be life-threatening. In fact, per the Food and Drug Administration, using fentanyl patch as prescribed can, within the first 24-72 hours, lead to life-threatening breathing problems, indicating overdose.
Taking medicines like fentanyl through the skin is supposed to slowly release the drug into the body. Duragesic patches can last for three days before they must be changed.
However, the large quantity of narcotic in a fentanyl patch has made this substance a target for people struggling with opioid addiction.
Other narcotics may gradually present overdose symptoms; because fentanyl is very potent, however, it can quickly lead to overdose, without much euphoria or other side effects leading up to the symptoms.
If a person is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to immediately call 911 so they get emergency medical attention.