Fentanyl has become one of the most widely abused opioids among teens and young adults because of its euphoric effect. The drug is available in various forms, such as a liquid for injection, patch, and lollipop.
In its prescription form, fentanyl is known as Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze. Street names for this potent synthetic opioid include Apache, China girl, China white, dance fever, friend, goodfella, jackpot, murder 8, Tango and Cash, and TNT.
Like other opiate drugs, fentanyl can be dangerous when used for recreational purposes. When mixed with street-sold heroin or cocaine, the effects can become even more harmful. Among the symptoms a fentanyl abuser may experience include dizziness, severe constipation, dry mouth, hives, vision problem, lethargy, headaches, depression, hallucinations, difficulty sleeping, shaking, swollen extremities, breathing difficulty, coma, tolerance, and addiction.
In 2009, emergency department visits associated with nonmedical use of fentanyl reached an estimated 20,945 — an 85 percent increase from the 11,211 ER visits in 2005, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN).
But fentanyl abuse is not only a problem in the United States. In Australia, a 2012 National Coroners Information System (NCIS) report found fentanyl abuse was a factor in at least 50 deaths since 2010. That figure didn’t include the 32 deaths linked to the drug that were still under investigation at the time the report was completed.
In Ontario, Canada, four overdoses of fentanyl were reported between 2008 and 2010.