What Does Fentanyl Taste Like? Effects & Dangers of Fentanyl
What Is Fentanyl?
Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is prescribed in the form of transdermal patches or lozenges and can be diverted for misuse and abuse in the United States. Most recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl. It is sold through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect. It is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine as a combination product—with or without the user’s knowledge—to increase its euphoric effects.
Pharmaceutical fentanyl is typically administered intravenously (IV), intramuscularly (IM), transdermally (TD) as skin patches, intranasally (IN) in the form of a volatile nasal spray, and intrathecally (IT). It is also available as a buccal soluble thin film, which can dissolve in the mouth, similar to the sublingual tablets. However, in contrast to other opiates, it is less common to find forms of synthetic drugs such as oral tablets or powders.
Fentanyl’s side effects are similar to those of heroin, which produce euphoria, confusion, respiratory depression (which, if extensive and untreated, may lead to arrest), drowsiness, nausea, visual disturbances, dyskinesia, hallucinations, delirium, a subset of the latter known as “narcotic delirium,” analgesia, constipation, narcotic ileus, muscle rigidity, constipation, addiction, loss of consciousness, hypotension, coma, and even death.
Alcohol and other drugs (i.e., cocaine, heroin) can synergistically exacerbate fentanyl’s side effects, creating multi-layered clinical scenarios that can be complex to manage. These substances, taken together, generate undesirable conditions that complicate the patient’s prognosis.
Why is Fentanyl Being Used in Street Drugs?
So why add Fentanyl to street drugs? Simply, because it’s strong. “Cutting” a drug refers to adding substances to a drug’s pure form in order to increase the amount of product a dealer can sell, therefore increasing profits. Fentanyl increases the potency of heroin, is easy to make, and is cheaper than heroin itself, therefore making it an ideal additive- in theory. The danger comes from unknowledgeable people mixing deadly amounts into other drugs, and then selling them to unknowing users, creating a situation in which the risk of overdose is incredibly high.
What Does Fentanyl Taste Like?
Unfortunately, most sources claim that there is no guaranteed way to identify fentanyl by taste, as it can taste radically different depending on the type of fentanyl and what it’s mixed with. Some users claimed the ability to identify fentanyl-laced heroin by taste, claiming that fentanyl tastes sweet, while heroin is very bitter. However, this evidence is anecdotal and is not a reliable way to identify the drug.
Fentanyl has no taste of its own. However, when taken in excessive doses, it becomes bitter to taste. The bitter taste can last for a couple of minutes before it disappears completely. While some users, especially those addicted to fentanyl, have reported that the drug has a faint resemblance to vinegar.
What Does Fentanyl Taste Like When Snorted?
A substantial amount of fentanyl abused will be illicitly produced in clandestine laboratories. Using illegally-manufactured, non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is very dangerous due to lack of regulation, but misusing any fentanyl product (legally or illegally produced) by changing the dose, frequency, or route of administration can also be hazardous due to the potency and possible side effects. For example, snorting fentanyl will produce effects that are unpredictably dangerous and potentially deadly, especially compared to using the drug as directed.
Snorting fentanyl is indeed very dangerous and poses numerous risks to the user. Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is commonly found in powdered form, which makes snorting it a common option. Even with a prescription, fentanyl use must be carefully monitored. Anytime a substance is consumed in ways other than prescribed, the danger rises. Snorting fentanyl allows the opioid to be absorbed into the bloodstream through the mucus membranes in the nasal passage before reaching the brain a few minutes later. This will be much quicker than oral ingestion.
Snorting fentanyl also contributes to an intensified high compared to oral ingestion. A quicker route allows for the concentration of fentanyl in the brain to rise more quickly, leading to intense and dangerous effects that can overwhelm the body and cause many unwanted consequences like respiratory depression. Additionally, snorting allows more fentanyl to reach the brain compared to oral consumption. Unlike snorting, when fentanyl is consumed orally, the stomach, intestines, and liver begin to break down some of the drugs before they can reach the brain.
What Does Fentanyl Taste Like When Smoked?
One of the top things to be aware of when it comes to smoking fentanyl is that it’s hard to control the dose. That being said, it’s much easier to overdose when smoking the drug. Like snorting, smoking is a much quicker way to get it into your system and can easily lead to addiction because of the near-immediate pain relief you may experience.
Like heroin, you can also smoke or snort the pain-killing drug. Fentanyl is abused for its intense euphoric effects and can serve as a direct substitute for heroin in opioid-dependent individuals. Fentanyl is often crushed and smoked, it makes a sweet smell due to the sugar it is mixed with, hence the name “shug.” Whether it is smoked, snorted, or taken orally, there are plenty of side effects that come with this super potent pain reliever.
What Does Fentanyl Look Like?
Prescription fentanyl is available as a schedule II prescription drug under such names as Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze in the form of tablets, an injectable liquid, lozenges, and transdermal patches. illicitly manufactured fentanyl can be in powder or tablet form, prescription opioids, Unfortunately, many forms of illicit fentanyl don’t necessarily have a specific taste, color, or odor, which makes it extremely difficult to identify whether or not you’re taking it. Fortunately, however, there are fentanyl test strips that can help users identify fentanyl.
What Color is Fentanyl?
Pharmaceutical fentanyl is available as injectables, skin patches, nasal sprays, or milky-colored lozenges. Fentanyl powder is placed on blotter paper, nasal sprays, or eye droppers. Color varies from off-white to light brown, similar to other illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine. Fentanyl can also be found in counterfeit pills that look like real prescription opioids.
What Does Fentanyl Smell Like?
The dangerous heroin/fentanyl combo barely gives off a smell. To make things even more difficult for parents, the smell of smoked heroin dissipates at a rapid pace. After it’s lit, the smoke tends to clear out in just a couple of minutes. It is nearly impossible to tell if drugs have been laced with fentanyl unless you test your drugs with fentanyl test strips.
How Is Fentanyl Taken?
When prescribed by a doctor, fentanyl can be given as a shot, a patch that is put on a person’s skin, or as lozenges that are sucked like cough drops. The illegally used fentanyl most often associated with recent overdoses is made in labs. This synthetic fentanyl is sold illegally as a powder, dropped onto blotter paper, put in eye droppers and nasal sprays, or made into pills that look like other prescription opioids.
Some drug dealers are mixing fentanyl with other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. This is because it takes very little to produce a high with fentanyl, making it a cheaper option. This is especially risky when people taking drugs don’t realize they might contain fentanyl as a cheap but dangerous additive. They might be taking stronger opioids than their bodies are used to and can be more likely to overdose.
Fentanyl can be injected, snorted/sniffed, smoked, taken orally by pill or tablet, and spiked onto blotter paper. Fentanyl patches are abused by removing their gel contents and then injecting or ingesting these contents. Patches have also been frozen, cut into pieces, and placed under the tongue or in the cheek cavity. Illicitly produced fentanyl is sold alone or in combination with heroin and other substances and has been identified in counterfeit pills, mimicking pharmaceutical drugs such as oxycodone.
Effects & Dangers of Fentanyl
Fentanyl is fast-acting but somewhat short-lived when compared to other drugs. It can take effect within minutes and can last as short as a half-hour or as long as one-and-a-half hours. It is measured in micrograms (mcg) because of its potency and risk for fentanyl overdose, even in very small amounts. One dosage in a hospital setting is 5 to 20 mcg, with an average of 10 mcg.
Short-Term Fentanyl Side Effects
Not every person will experience the same side effects the same way. Some of the common short-term negative effects of fentanyl are:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Unusual tiredness or weakness
- Difficulty urinating
- Pinpoint pupils
- Respiratory depression
- Dry mouth
- Increased thirst
- Chest pain
- Pale skin
Long-Term Fentanyl Physical Side Effects
Long-term use of fentanyl can lead to heart or respiratory problems. Further, people who inject fentanyl and share needles have an increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, or other infectious diseases.
There are other potential side effects, but these are less common. Rare side effects from fentanyl include:
- Dyskinesia, or trouble with voluntary movement
- Feeling like the room is spinning
- Stinging skin
- Throat irritation
- Kidney damage
- Eczema or other skin disorder
- Bloating or swelling of the face or extremities
- Reduced urine output
- Feeling cold
- Headache or pain in the head
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Low blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
Anyone who uses drugs that may contain fentanyl, even occasionally, is at risk of a fentanyl overdose. A fentanyl overdose can overwhelm the central nervous system, disrupting the pathways that control heart function and breathing. Many people who overdose on fentanyl will fall asleep and never wake up. If someone at risk of a fentanyl overdose is breathing exceptionally shallow or slow. This can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia can lead to a coma and permanent brain damage, and even death.
Many drug dealers mix the cheaper fentanyl with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, MDMA, and methamphetamine to increase their profits, making it often difficult to know which drug is causing the overdose. Naloxone is a medicine that can treat a fentanyl overdose when given right away. It works by rapidly binding to opioid receptors and blocking the effects of opioid drugs. But fentanyl is more potent than other opioid drugs like morphine and might require multiple doses of naloxone.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction
First and foremost, if you think that a loved one is abusing fentanyl, you should first research the drug and addiction associated with it so that you can better understand what your loved one needs. Next, you must plan an intervention to provide your loved ones with options to battle their addiction in a safe and supportive environment. During this intervention, make sure that you offer compassion and support instead of judgment. Lastly, offer your support throughout the entire treatment process.
In addition, prolonged drug use can have severe physical and psychological effects on you, so it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Inpatient drug rehab offers intensive care that can help you get through the early stages of withdrawal promptly.
Detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.
Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.
Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.”
- Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
- Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.
Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.
Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to medically assist your recovery through our Fentanyl Treatment Program. So, reclaim your life, call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. “what does fentanyl taste like?” is a question that most parents ask. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.