The Effects and Benefits of Drugs on Society - Paper Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  876 Words
Date:  2022-09-28


Fentanyl was first synthesized in 1959 by Dr Paul Janssen and the Janssen Company of Beerse, Belgium in 1960 (Morrone, 2017). Since its first clinical use as an intravenous analgesic in Europe and In America, it has become one of the most important and most used opioid analgesic. In the 1960 the drug was introduce as an intravenous anaesthetic under the name Sublimaze. It became popular and other analogs of fentanyl such as remifentanil, alfentanil, sufentanil and lofentanil were developed. The duragesic parch was worn on the skin and was very helpful in managing chronic pain. The patch was made of an inert alcohol gel infused with predetermined dosage of fentanyl. The patch released the drug slowly into the bloodstream providing long term pain relief. Later, other delivery devices like the Actiq Lollipop and the Fentora buccal tablets that contained fentanyl citrate and fillers were developed. Other products that contained fentanyl included the Buccal spray and an effervescent lozenge. Despite various modes of delivery, the patch is the most widely used. More recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved Onsolis, another fentanyl product for breakthrough pain.

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Medical Use

Fentanyl exists in a variety of forms. In hospitals, it is given as an IV drip or given as IV injection. Other fentanyl pharmaceutical products include Buccal tablets, Transmucosal lozenges, sublingual spray and transdermal patches. When administered according to the doctors prescriptions fentanyl effectively treats chronic pain caused by malignant and non-malignant conditions. Mostly it is used to reduce pain cancer patients experience in particular, the breakthrough pain. Breakthrough pain is a sudden severe pain experienced by cancer patients while still under constant pain medicines. The drug works by altering how the brain reacts and experience pain. Fentanyl binds to body's opioids receptors to drive up dopamine levels, producing a state of euphoria and relaxation (Mao, 2016). The drug is specifically used by opioids tolerant patients, these are patients who require relief for pain but have developed tolerance to other opioids. It advantages include, high degree of patient satisfaction, low incidences and impacts of adverse effects, reduced risk of complication as compared to other pain relievers, and improved quality of life. The drug is also useful for cancer patients who have gastronomial problems.

Abuse and Addiction

The abuse of fentanyl first appeared 1970s and has been increasing over the years. The drug is either manufactured in illegal laboratories or obtained by diverting from a legitimate medical supplier. In addition Chinese labs make and sell cheap fentanyl which is distributed to other countries. In this way medical and illegal fentanyl spreads through the illegal market, increasing the number of related deaths. Discarded patches can also contain some amount of the drug. Fentanyl abuser remove the gel content from those parches, smoke, inject, put it under the tongue or even eat it (Dasgupta, 2011). The analogs produced from illegal laboratories are more potent than the street heroin, and produces more respiratory depression, therefore, they are more dangerous than heroin.

Anyone who uses this drug is susceptible to developing addiction, whether it is prescribed by a doctor or not. Since it has the same effects as heroin, it has become popular filler for dealers to cut with and retain their customers. This has exposed more users to its effects and addiction without their knowledge. When this happens it becomes hard to dose properly, go through withdrawals or quit. Most addicts can overdose unknowingly at any moment. It also becomes a challenge not only to the users but also to the clinics and first respondents because it is hard to treat something they do not know exists.

Any form of addiction is dangerous and have serious lasting consequences, However, Fentanyl is more dangerous than most. It increases the risk and severity of some of its side effects which include depression and anxiety, vision changes, hallucinations, irregular heartbeats, vision changes and insomnia. Over time, the drug affects the nervous system causing excess amount of dopamine to flood, chemically affecting the brain. The overdose of fentanyl is the most serious aspect of abusing the drug; it is 50 times stronger than heroin, and 50 times more potent than morphine (Donald G Barceloux; Wiley InterScience , 2012). In the recent years fentanyl overdose has increased since it was added as an illicit drug like cocaine and heroin. In 2016 more than 60,000 deaths were partially driven by increase in opioids overdose (Morrone, 2017). Illicit fentanyl was primarily responsible for the increase. Fentanyl is easier to manufacture less expensive than heroin and has surpassed it as a leading cause of overdose deaths.


Although fentanyl significantly reduces pain for those who suffer from chronic or acute pain conditions, it can cause considerable harm or death if misused. Some healthcare providers and patients may not fully recognize the dangers of this drug. Therefore, the society, including the medical community, families, government and law enforcers should be aware of the negative effects of improper and illicit use of fentanyl.


Dasgupta, D. A. (2011). A Health Educator's Guide to Understanding Drugs of Abuse Testing. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Donald G Barceloux; Wiley InterScience. (2012). Medical Toxicology of Drug Abuse : Synthesized Chemicals and Psychoactive Plants. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

Mao, J. (2016). Opioid-Induced Hyperalgesia. Florida: CRC Press.

Morrone, W. (2017). American Narcan: Naloxone and Heroin-Fentanyl Associated Mortality. William Morrone.

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