How does fentanyl make you feel?

How does fentanyl make you feel?

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid, and doctors will prescribe it for severe or chronic pain. There are two main types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical and illicitly manufactured fentanyl.

The effects of fentanyl are pain relief and euphoria. The results are fast-acting, so they have the potential for misuse or dependence.

Fentanyl analogs are similar in chemical structure to fentanyl and are manufactured in labs illicitly. Another dangerous illicitly made opioid, U-47700, is linked to overdoses and analogs.

To put in context how dangerous fentanyl can be, an average of 5 Oregonians die every week from an opioid overdose. 

What Is Fentanyl Typically Prescribed For Treating?

Doctors will prescribe the synthetic opioid fentanyl for cancer patients and those with severe pain. People after post-surgical operations may be prescribed fentanyl. People in late cancer stages or terminally ill and with chronic pain may be prescribed fentanyl.

According to the Oregon Poison Center, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. 

Fentanyl is a powerful analgesic used for pain, so doctors often prescribe it for many different reasons.

Some reasons doctors prescribe fentanyl:

  • Chronic pain
  • Breakthrough pain
  • Anesthesia
  • Active military
  • Childbirth

What Are Some Side Effects of Fentanyl Use

Like many opiates, the effects that make fentanyl effective at treating pain are the exact effects that make it such a dangerous opioid.

Long-term effects

There are some long-term side effects associated with fentanyl use.

Some long term mental side effects are:

  • Depression
  • Memory problems
  • Attention span issues
  • Coordination and movement issues

Some long term physical side effects may be :

  • Constipation and bowel obstruction
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Sleep disorders from breathing abnormalities
  • Bone fractures
  • Adrenal dysregulation or adrenal gland issues
  • Hyperalgesia: exaggerated sensitivity to pain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Diminished immune system
  • Dental problems

Short-term Effects

There are also some short-term mental and physical effects of fentanyl use.

Some of the short term mental side effects are:

  • Falling in and out of consciousness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability

Some possible short-term physical side effects may be:

  • Nausea
  • Slowed breathing
  • Itching
  • Slurred speech
  • Pin-point pupils
  • Slowed heart rate

Common Side Effects

Some of the common side effects associated with fentanyl use are:

  • Pin-point pupils
  • Feelings of pleasure
  • Pain relief
  • Shallow breathing
  • Hiccups
  • Drooling
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness
  • Appetite changes

Rare Side Effects

There are also a few rare side effects of fentanyl use and other opioids.

Some rare side effects could be:

  • Painful urination
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Seizures
  • Hives
  • Vision problems

What Is the Effect of Fentanyl on the Body?

Fentanyl directly affects the central nervous system (CNS). Some effects include drowsiness, sedation, and consciousness impairment. Fentanyl can also cause problems in the CNS with someone’s ability to communicate correctly.

Sleep disturbances are also common.

In addition, long-term doses of fentanyl cause a decrease in physical movement. This would sometimes make it hard to drive a vehicle or negatively affect walking and coordination.

Other areas of the body that are affected include:

  • Respiratory system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Digestive system
  • Hormonal/endocrine system
  • Weakened immune system

After repeated fentanyl use, physical dependence sets in as little as two weeks. After that, the body will become dependent on the substance. There may be less time between doses, and people will begin to suffer withdrawal symptoms if they discontinue use.

Some signs of withdrawal from fentanyl include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Yawning
  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • High blood pressure and heart rate
  • Runny eyes
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Cramps
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

How Does Fentanyl Impact the Brain and Behavior?

Fentanyl can cross the blood-brain barrier making it a fast-acting opioid. As a result, immediate pain relief, pleasure, and sedation occur shortly after someone ingests the substance.

Once inside the brain, fentanyl will connect to opioid receptors that affect many different brain areas.

Fentanyl directly works on the central nervous system receptors responsible for pain, motivation, and reward.

The body produces pain-relieving chemicals naturally. Opioids attach to receptors in the brain and spinal cord and block the perception that there is pain.

Drugs like Acetaminophen target the pain in the body, and opioids like fentanyl trick the brain into thinking that there is no pain. This chemical message produces a feeling of well-being in the brain.

The brain’s reward system is affected when fentanyl is inside, making it potentially dangerous for physical dependence.

Opioid receptors are related to mood, pain, and reward. Therefore, mood swings are also common with fentanyl use.

Over time, fentanyl use can slow down the natural production of dopamine, our feel-good chemical. The brain will then trigger cravings for the opioid and eventually rely on the opioid for dopamine instead of producing the chemical naturally on its own.

When the brain stops making dopamine on its own, some side effects may be present.

They include:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Depression
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Anhedonia: the inability to feel pleasure from everyday activities
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Physical tremors

Fentanyl Hallucinations

Often hallucinations are more common in withdrawal from opioids like fentanyl. 

There are some reports of hallucinations in a hospital setting. However, it is unclear if fentanyl triggers these hallucinations or if they are from another psychiatric condition.

Opioid-induced hallucinations are reported and usually are auditory or visual in nature.

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