A fentanyl high feels like intense relaxation and euphoria. Some people describe it as a calming warmth that spreads throughout your body, a fuzzy blanket wrapped around you, or a state of pure bliss. You may drift in and out of consciousness without a care in the world.
You may also have fentanyl side effects like:
- difficulty breathing
How Fentanyl Works
Fentanyl is an opioid analgesic (a drug for pain relief) that treats severe pain. A doctor may prescribe a fentanyl patch (Duragesic), shot, or lozenges after surgery to help you deal with the first few days of postoperative pain.
A healthcare provider may also give you fentanyl for chronic pain if no other opioids have been effective.
By targeting opioid receptors in the brain and body, fentanyl changes the way your brain perceives pain and provides a feeling of pleasure instead.
It slows down your central nervous system (it’s a CNS depressant), which makes your breathing and heart rate slower, so you’re relaxed rather than tense.
Is It Dangerous To Get High On Fentanyl?
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies fentanyl as a Schedule II controlled substance. That means it has a high potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction, despite its legal medical use as a prescription drug.
Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, so it isn’t something you should mess around with. Getting high on fentanyl is dangerous and life-threatening. Only 2 mg (as much as a few grains of salt) can kill you.
Can You Overdose On Fentanyl?
Synthetic opioids have caused a spike in drug overdose deaths during the last decade. Prescription opioids like oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) play a role, but the increased death rate is mostly due to fentanyl.
It’s easy to overdose on fentanyl because it’s so potent. People who abuse the drug may take too much and end up in the hospital or worse. But many fentanyl-related deaths occur when the person taking it thinks they’re taking something else.
Law enforcement has found more and more drugs on the street containing fentanyl—including heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, and Xanax (alprazolam).
Carfentanil is 1000 times stronger than fentanyl, and a single grain can be lethal. This fentanyl analog has been found laced into fentanyl and other opioid drugs, often without the buyer’s knowledge.
Fentanyl Overdose Symptoms
Fentanyl overdose occurs when the drug slows down your central nervous system too much. It causes respiratory depression—your breathing slows down or stops and oxygen can’t get to your brain or throughout your body. The result could be brain damage or death.
Fentanyl overdose symptoms include:
- blue skin or nails
- cold, clammy skin
- pinpoint pupils
- shallow, slow, or no breath
- slow heart rate
- loss of consciousness
Whether you’re taking fentanyl by prescription or abusing it, it’s a good idea to have naloxone (Narcan) on hand. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that can reverse opioid overdose symptoms long enough for someone to get you medical help.
The risk of overdose goes up if you mix fentanyl with alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other opioids.
As an opioid drug, fentanyl increases the amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a hormone that’s part of the reward system. More dopamine makes you feel good.
When you get a dopamine rush from a healthy activity like exercise, it makes you want to exercise more. When you get it from fentanyl, it reinforces drug use.
Eventually, you won’t be able to get the rush from anything but fentanyl. You’ll have cravings and be unable to stop using fentanyl even if it’s harmful to your health and relationships.
Fentanyl Dependence & Withdrawal
Besides mental drug addiction, fentanyl also causes physical dependence. Your body gets used to the drug’s effects and doesn’t function properly without it. This can happen after only a few weeks of taking fentanyl regularly.
If you’re physically dependent on fentanyl and stop taking it suddenly, you’ll have withdrawal symptoms. The opioid withdrawal process leads many people back to fentanyl to avoid the painful experience of withdrawal.
If you or a loved one are struggling with the use of fentanyl, don’t wait until it destroys your health or takes over your life. We’re here to help. Contact us to learn more.
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.