Here’s How Fentanyl Can Affect Your Brain – and Breathing
- A new study has revealed that fentanyl is able to slow a person’s breathing for a few for a few minutes before they lose consciousness.
- This research could assist doctors in administering the drug in a safe method.
- However, it provides the reason why it’s an extremely dangerous substance to use.
- Experts have stated that fentanyl can be extremely toxic and shouldn’t be taken when absolutely needed.
- Patients must talk about their medication with their physician in order to evaluate the risk and. advantages.
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and published in PNAS Nexus has shown Fentanyl, a drug that is used to treat addiction stops breathing in surgical patients before any visible changes, like an absence of consciousness.
Elizabeth J. Scharman PharmD, DABAT BCPS, FAACT, who is the Executive and Clinical Director of the West Virginia Poison Center as and professor of Clinical Pharmacy at the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy and wasn’t involved in the study, said that Fentanyl is a prescription medication frequently used in conjunction with or following surgery as well as in the intensive health units (ICUs) in which patients are under ventilatory care.
It could also be utilized on an outpatient basis to patients in hospice care or suffering from extreme pain from cancer.
Fentanyl creates unique pattern of electrical brain activity that appear on the electroencephalogram (EEG) according to the scientists, which let them see the effects of fentanyl.
They determined that the medication could affect the breathing of people for about 4 minutes prior to any noticeable change in their alertness.
The dose was 1700 times lower dosage in the medication than the one that is needed to numb the patient.
The senior author Patrick L. Purdon PhD, said to the Harvard Gazette that these results could lead to better and more precise administration of fentanyl at hospitals, for instance, in COVID-19 patients who are sedated or those under anesthesia during surgery.
At present, there’s no way of knowing whether these drugs are effective even when the patient is asleep. It could be feasible to use EEGs to assess the effects of fentanyl.
These findings also have significant implications in increasing the risk of health problems associated with using recreational drugs. Purdon said to the Harvard Gazettethat they explain one of the main reasons Fentanyl is a risky drug is that it can shut down people’s breathing before they recognize what’s going on.
Based on the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Fentanyl is produced in the outside of the United States in secret labs and then being smuggled into country, from where it’s later sold for sale illegally.
They say that it’s being sold in sprays and powders. It can also be created into fake pills that look and feel like genuine prescription medicines.
With no oversight from the government to guarantee quality or purity These fake pills could contain different chemicals than what is claimed or even deadly doses of fentanyl.
As per the DEA the DEA, the drugs they tested contained between 0.2 up to 5.1 milligrams of drug. Two mg is a risky dose.
Additionally, since fentanyl is an opioid with potency which drug users can acquire at a very low cost, they often combine it with substances such as methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine to enhance the effectiveness. That means that some people might not even realize that they are exposed to the fentanyl.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and PreventionTrusted Source (CDC), opioid overdoses are becoming a major problem across the United States. In the year 2020 there were 56,000 deaths related to synthetic opioids that were not methadone. Death rates were up by 56 percent between the years 2019 and 2020, and accounted to more than 82% deaths attributed to opioids. The death rate from overdoses in this group was more than 18 times higher than the 2013 death rate.
They claim that the increase is likely to be driven by illegal rather than prescription Fentanyl. But, it must be not forgotten that anywhere from three to 19 per cent of those who use prescription painkillers become addicted to them, which could cause them to turn to less readily available alternatives such as illegal substances. For example, 45 percent of the people who take heroin initially developed an addiction to prescription opioids.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says the power — it’s up to 50 times stronger than morphineand fentanyl is addictive.
They point out that anyone who takes the medication as it is prescribed by a physician may become dependent on it, and this can lead to withdrawal symptoms once they stop using the medication. Dependency can cause a person to become addicted. It is also possible for people to develop an addiction to the substance, which causes to require more of the drug in order to attain the same results.
Scharman suggested that patients always inquire about what kind of medicine they’re receiving to ease their pain, and whether the medication comes from an opioid.
“If the drug is only prescribed for use over a few days, for example, after a surgery, that should not be an addiction concern,” she explained. “If the medication is for end-of-life pain, addiction is not a concern.”
However, opioids should not be the first substance that a person attempts to use for treatment of chronic pain conditions that aren’t life-threatening, says the doctor.
“Because of addiction risk, which is a side effect that must be considered, use of opioids for chronic pain should be restricted for select patients after all other options have been exhausted.”
Sudheer Potru, DO, FASAM, a triple-board-certified anesthesiologist, interventional pain physician, and addiction medicine specialist at Atlanta VA Medical Center, agrees, adding that problems can arise in vulnerable patients, “particularly those with an addiction history or those with a family history of one.”
“Patients always have the choice to either use or not use something that is prescribed to them,” Potru said. Potru, “but the most important thing is to ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of using any medication so that you understand fully the consequences of doing so.”
“It’s also important to be upfront with the clinician caring for you, so they understand what you feel comfortable with from a medication standpoint,” said Dr. X.