Fentanyl: Therapeutic use, Treatment. Fentanyl rehab.

Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 3:28 pm

Official names: Fentanyl
Street names: Brand names include Actiq, Alfenta, Duragesic, Oralet, Sublimaze, and Sufenta. Street terms include Apache, China girl, China town, China white, dance fever, friend, goodfellas, great bear, He-man, jackpot, king ivory, Mexican brown, murder 8, P-dope, Persian white, P-funk, poison, synthetic heroin, Tango & Cash, TNT, tombstone
Drug classifications: Schedule I or II, narcotic analgesic


Key terms

ANALGESIC: A type of drug that alleviates pain without loss of consciousness.
ANALOG: Different forms of a chemical or drug structurally related to the parent chemical or drug.
ANTAGONIST: A drug that counteracts or blocks the effects of another drug.
CLANDESTINE LABORATORY: An illegal laboratory used to make designer drugs.
DESIGNER DRUGS: Drugs that are produced in an illegal laboratory that are chemically similar to pharmaceutical drugs.
INTRAVENOUS DRUG: Any drug that is injected via a needle into the bloodstream.
OPIATE: Drug derived directly from opium and used in its natural state, without chemical modification. Opiates include morphine, codeine, thebaine, noscapine, and papaverine.



Fentanyl is a very powerful synthetic opioid analgesic routinely used legally for anesthesia. The amount of fentanyl that could fit on the head of a pin is enough to kill ten people. It is a member of the narcotic analgesic class of drugs that reduce pain. Today it is used in 70% of the surgeries performed in the United States. It has been administered since the early 1970s for prenatal use. Since 1991 it has also been used to treat chronic pain associated with cancer or other terminal diseases. Because it takes effect quickly and has few undesirable side effects when controlled by a physician, it is revered by the medical community. Fentanyl is used in the treatment of all ages, from children to the elderly.
Fentanyl was first abused by medical professionals who were able to obtain the legally produced opioid from drug companies. Today, it is a designer drug that black market chemists in clandestine laboratories with high levels of expertise and equipment manufacture in home labs. As a street drug, it can be several hundred to three thousand times more potent than morphine. Sometimes it is sold as heroin to unsuspecting users.
Fentanyl and its derivatives are opioid narcotics similar to heroin and are consumed on the street in many of the same ways. These opioids work through receptors in the brain and spine, mimicking naturally present pep-tides commonly known as endorphins, enkephalins, and dynorphins. The type of receptor that fentanyl predominately bonds with is the mu receptor.
The number of synthetic drugs that can be derived from the fentanyl molecule is almost limitless. Variations of fentanyl devised in street labs continue to appear, making it even more difficult to track the drug. Adding to the difficulty of tracking fentanyl is the fact that it takes multiple tests to recognize it in a user’s system. It does not appear in common urine analysis, so most users are not detected until they overdose.
Fentanyl is a relatively new drug and still under testing. It is a completely synthetic drug first made in Belgium in the late 1950s. Fentanyl is the name given to the synthetic molecule by its creators, Janssen Parmaceutica, of Belgium. It was originally marketed by Janssen under the trade name Sublimaze. Sublimaze was introduced into clinical practice in the 1960s as an intravenous anesthetic.
According to Newsweek, the pharmaceutical market doubled between 1996 and 2000. As a whole, it generates $45 billion annually. Painkillers such as the legally produced fentanyl account for $1.8 billion of this figure. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 1.6 million people abused prescription drugs in 1998. These figures represent only the legally produced drugs and do not include designer drugs sold on the street.
Fentanyls first appeared on the streets under the name China white in the late 1970s. It was viewed as a “safe” alternative to heroin because it was a derivative of a prescription drug. Furthermore, fentanyl is virtually undetectable in a person’s system by a drug screening urinalysis. Users were thus attracted to it as a way to get around the law. However, analogs, drugs that differ slightly in chemical structure but are similar to other drugs, were added to the list of controlled substances by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 1984 and 1986. This meant that the street variations of fentanyl were made illegal to possess or produce.
China white was popular on the West Coast of the United States in the early 1980s and was estimated at 6,000 times the potency of morphine. In the late 1980s, fentanyl was introduced into the club scene in New York, and designer variations were spawned. In the 1990s fentanyl was introduced as a lollipop for young cancer patients to treat their pain and suffering. In this form it entered into all-night raves and club parties.

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