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What Are the Different Forms of Fentanyl?

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Fentanyl is available in several different forms, including tablets, patches, lozenges, injectable solutions, and nasal sprays. Some forms of fentanyl are intended for medical use, while others are made illicitly and sold on the black market. Fentanyl tablets, for example, may be manufactured to look like prescription pills, but they can contain dangerously high levels of the drug. Fentanyl patches, which are designed to slowly release the drug over a period of time, can also be misused by cutting them open and consuming the gel inside. Regardless of the form it takes, fentanyl is highly addictive and can be lethal in even small amounts.

If you or someone you know is struggling with fentanyl addiction, it’s important to understand the different available forms of the drug and the potential dangers they pose. Read on to learn more about fentanyl and how Guardian Recovery can help.

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Illicit Fentanyl & Pharmaceutical Fentanyl

Fentanyl is available in both illicit and pharmaceutical forms. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a prescription drug that is used to manage severe pain, such as after surgery or for cancer patients. It is available in various forms such as patches, lozenges, and injectable solutions. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is tightly regulated and only available with a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider.

Fentanyl, on the other hand, is a synthetic drug that is manufactured in illegal labs and sold on the black market. Illicit fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine to increase their potency. It is often sold as pills, powders, or in liquid form, and it can be extremely dangerous because the potency and quality of the drug can vary widely. Illicit fentanyl is responsible for a significant portion of opioid-related deaths in many countries, including the United States and Canada.

Regardless of whether fentanyl is obtained through legitimate medical channels or through the black market, it is a highly addictive drug with serious potential health consequences.

Fentanyl Can Come in Several Forms

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is available in several different forms, including pharmaceutical and illicit forms.

Pharmaceutical fentanyl is available in the following forms:

Patches — These patches are applied to the skin and slowly release fentanyl into the bloodstream over a period of time.

Lozenges —  Fentanyl lozenges are placed in the mouth and allowed to dissolve slowly.

Tablets — Fentanyl tablets are available in both immediate-release and extended-release formulations. These tablets are typically taken orally.

Injectable solutions —– Fentanyl is also available in injectable solutions that are used in medical settings for pain management.

Nasal sprays — Fentanyl nasal sprays are used to manage breakthrough pain in cancer patients and are administered through the nostrils.

Illicit fentanyl —– can also come in a variety of forms that are manufactured in illegal labs and sold on the black market. Some common forms of illicit fentanyl include:

Powders —  Illicit fentanyl powders are typically white or off-white in color and are often mixed with other substances such as heroin, cocaine, or benzodiazepines.

Pills —  Illicit fentanyl pills can be made to look like prescription drugs such as oxycodone or Xanax, but they often contain much higher doses of fentanyl.

Liquids — Illicit fentanyl liquids are sometimes added to other drugs or consumed on their own.

Transdermal Patches

Transdermal patches are a common form of pharmaceutical fentanyl. These patches are designed to slowly release fentanyl through the skin and into the bloodstream over a period of time, typically lasting anywhere from 48 to 72 hours. They are used to manage chronic pain in patients who require continuous opioid therapy. Transdermal patches provide a constant and steady flow of the drug, which can help reduce the risk of side effects such as nausea and dizziness that may occur with other forms of fentanyl. However, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully when using transdermal patches, as improper use can lead to overdose or other serious health complications.

Tablets & Pills

Fentanyl tablets and pills are another form of the drug that can be found both legally through a prescription, and illegally on the black market. These forms of fentanyl are typically taken orally and come in immediate-release and extended-release formulations. Immediate-release fentanyl tablets are designed to provide quick relief of pain, while extended-release tablets are designed to release fentanyl slowly over a longer period of time.

Lozenges

Fentanyl lozenges are a form of pharmaceutical fentanyl that are designed to provide relief from breakthrough pain in cancer patients who are already taking opioids for pain management. They are placed in the mouth and allowed to dissolve slowly, delivering fentanyl to the bloodstream through the mucous membranes.

Nasal Sprays

Fentanyl nasal sprays are a form of pharmaceutical fentanyl that is used to manage breakthrough for patients. They are administered through the nostrils and are designed to deliver fentanyl to the bloodstream through the nasal mucosa. Illicit fentanyl nasal sprays have also been found on the black market. These sprays may be mixed with other drugs or contain much higher doses of fentanyl than is safe for human consumption. Illicit fentanyl nasal sprays can be extremely dangerous and should never be used.

Powder

Fentanyl powder is a form of the drug that is often found on the black market. It can be white or off-white in color and is typically mixed with other substances such as heroin, cocaine, or benzodiazepines to increase their potency. Illicit fentanyl powder can be consumed in a variety of ways, such as by snorting, smoking, or injecting.

Liquid

This form may be clear or colored and can be mixed with other substances such as heroin or cocaine to increase their potency. Illicit fentanyl liquid can be consumed by injecting it, mixing it with other drugs, or by adding it to other substances such as blotter paper, candies, or vape liquids.

Lollipop

They are called “Actiq” and are a berry-flavored lollipop that contains fentanyl in a lozenge-like form on a stick. The patient holds the lollipop in their mouth and allows the medication to dissolve slowly.

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What Are the Medical Uses for the Different Forms of Legal Fentanyl

The different forms of legal fentanyl have various medical uses, including:

  • Transdermal patches— These patches are used to manage chronic pain in patients who require continuous opioid therapy. They are often prescribed for patients with cancer pain or other conditions that require around-the-clock pain management.
  • Lozenges — Fentanyl lozenges are used to manage breakthrough pain in cancer patients who are already taking opioids for pain management. They are typically used in combination with other pain medications.
  • Tablets —  Fentanyl tablets are used to manage severe pain that requires around-the-clock opioid therapy. They come in both immediate-release and extended-release formulations and are typically used in patients with chronic pain or in the postoperative setting.
  • Injectable solutions — Fentanyl injectable solutions are used in medical settings for pain management, such as in the operating room or in emergency situations.

Nasal sprays —  Fentanyl nasal sprays are used to manage breakthrough pain in cancer patients who are already taking opioids for pain management. They are administered through the nostrils and provide quick relief of pain.

Can All Forms of Fentanyl Cause Side Effects & Overdoses?

All forms of fentanyl have the potential to cause side effects and overdoses, even when used as directed by a healthcare provider. Fentanyl is a highly potent opioid that can cause respiratory depression, which can lead to serious breathing problems or even death. Other potential side effects of fentanyl include dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and itching.

Dangers & Risks Associated With Pharmaceutical Fentanyl

Pharmaceutical fentanyl, when used as directed by a healthcare provider, can be an effective treatment for severe pain. However, there are also risks and dangers associated with its use, including:

  • Addiction and dependence — Like other opioids, fentanyl can be highly addictive and can lead to physical dependence.
  • Overdose — Fentanyl is a potent opioid, and even a small amount can cause an overdose, especially if the user has a low tolerance for opioids.
  • Respiratory depression: — Fentanyl can cause respiratory depression, which can lead to serious breathing problems or even death.
  • Interactions with other medications — Fentanyl can interact with other medications, such as benzodiazepines or alcohol, which can increase the risk of respiratory depression and overdose.

Accidental exposure — Fentanyl patches, in particular, can be dangerous if accidentally ingested by children or pets.

Powder or Liquid Form of Fentanyl Are Used to Lace Drugs

Powder or liquid forms of fentanyl are sometimes used to lace other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, or counterfeit prescription drugs. This is often done to increase the potency of these drugs and to make them more addictive.

Fentanyl & Fake Pills

Fentanyl is sometimes used to make fake pills that resemble prescription drugs such as oxycodone, Xanax, or other benzodiazepines. These fake pills can be difficult to distinguish from the real thing, and users who take them are at high risk of overdose and death. Fake pills that contain fentanyl may be much more potent than the real drug they are meant to resemble.

Drugs Known to Be Laced With Liquid or Powder Fentanyl

Liquid or powder forms of fentanyl have been known to be added to a variety of drugs, including:

  • Heroin — Fentanyl is often used to increase the potency of heroin, as it is more potent than heroin itself.
  • Cocaine — Fentanyl has been found in samples of cocaine, likely added to increase its potency and addictive potential.
  • Counterfeit prescription drugs — Fentanyl has been found in counterfeit prescription drugs such as oxycodone or Xanax, as well as other benzodiazepines.
  • Methamphetamine —– Fentanyl has been detected in methamphetamine samples, although it is not clear why it would be added to this drug.

Ecstasy — Fentanyl has been detected in samples of ecstasy, likely added to increase its potency and addictive potential.

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In conclusion, fentanyl is a potent opioid that can be highly addictive and dangerous, even when used as directed by a healthcare provider. Illicit forms of fentanyl, such as those found on the black market, can be especially dangerous because the potency and quality of the drug can vary widely. That’s why it’s essential to seek professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to fentanyl or other opioids.

If you or a loved one is struggling with fentanyl addiction, the Guardian Recovery can help. Our experienced team of addiction professionals can provide the support and resources needed to overcome addiction to fentanyl or other opioids. We offer a comprehensive range of addiction treatment services, including detox, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and aftercare support.

Don’t wait to seek help. Contact Guardian Recovery today to learn more about our addiction treatment programs and how we can help you or your loved one achieve lasting recovery.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Fentanyl-2020_0.pdf
  2. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/fentanyl.pdf
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/stopoverdose/fentanyl/pdf/fentanyl_fact_sheet_508c.pdf
  4. https://www.guardianrecoverynetwork.com/addiction-101/
  5. https://www.guardianrecoverynetwork.com/addiction-101/fentanyl-lollipop/
  6. https://www.guardianrecoverynetwork.com/addiction-treatment/medical-detox/opioid-detox/fentanyl-detox/
  7. https://www.guardianrecoverynetwork.com/addiction-101/heroin-vs-fentanyl/
  8. https://www.guardianrecoverynetwork.com/addiction-101/what-color-is-fentanyl/

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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