The Dangers Of Injecting Fentanyl (IV Use)

Fentanyl abuse is quickly becoming a highly deadly part of the opioid crisis dominating our country. Injecting fentanyl intravenously (IV) is a risky way to administer this drug because its ingredients are often undetermined and can result in fatal overdose

Injecting fentanyl is one of the ways that a person struggling with an opioid addiction may abuse fentanyl. This method of ingestion can result in intense, short term feelings of euphoria, but also can lead to dependence, disease, infection, overdose, and can be fatal in very small doses.

What Is Liquid Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be 100 times stronger than morphine. Liquid fentanyl is available for intravenous use, but this is reserved for anaesthetic purposes, and requires training for administration as well as training for emergency respiratory assistance, as breathing issues are common with this form of fentanyl.

This form of fentanyl is typically not available outside of a hospital setting. If a person has liquid fentanyl, it is likely a result of damaging or altering another form of fentanyl to liquid form, or illegally produced fentanyl.

Liquid fentanyl is made by manipulating other forms of prescription fentanyl by adding other substances to liquify it into injectable matter, or by liquifying illegally produced fentanyl, in a method similar to heroin. Again, this is problematic because fentanyl doses are considerably smaller than other substances of abuse.

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Why Is Injecting Fentanyl Dangerous?

A significant danger associated with IV fentanyl use is the incredibly high possibility of overdose. The amount of fentanyl that can result in overdose is so minute that the drug is usually measured in micrograms, instead of milligrams, like other medications. A fatal dose of fentanyl is less than a few granules of sugar, which is equivalent to two milligrams (or 2000 micrograms)

Injecting any substance of abuse directly into the bloodstream is unsafe. It can produce immediate effects that last briefly, which increases the likelihood of repeated use over a short amount of time. This repeated use increases the potential for dependence, abuse, and addiction.

Injecting fentanyl is tremendously dangerous, because the liquid is not being filtered at all before it enters the bloodstream. Fentanyl that is purchased illegally or from a pharmacy is not intended for injection, and may contain several additional substances or contaminants that are also harmful to the body. By putting any manipulated form of fentanyl directly into the bloodstream, there is increased risk for infection, toxicity, and poisoning, in addition to high risk of overdose. It can cause issues with blood vessels and cause overall damage to many organs, including the liver, kidneys, brain, and lungs.

Other Risk Factors For Fentanyl Injection

People who inject fentanyl are also at high risk for the following additional physical side effects:

  • track marks
  • injection site inflammation
  • collapsed veins
  • skin infections
  • bacteria growth inside the blood system
  • poor blood flow
  • swelling of lower extremities

Because intravenous use of fentanyl requires using a syringe to inject the drug into the vein, there are additional risk factors associated with this form of abuse. In many situations, people abusing fentanyl share needles. This can result in body fluids being exchanged and diseases like HIV, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis and many other blood-borne illness exposure.

Many communities that have high rates of opioid abuse and addiction have started programs for needle exchange. These programs allow access to sterile needles and collect used needles. They also provide products to help prevent further spread of disease and illness (like condoms and alcohol pads)

IV Fentanyl Use And Overdose

Injecting any substance of abuse has a risk for overdose. Injecting fentanyl has significantly higher risk for overdose due to several factors like potency and additives.

Because the methods used to extract fentanyl from some prescription forms are usually done at home and not in laboratories where they follow proper procedures, there is no way to measure how much fentanyl is in any given dose. Fentanyl patches (Duragesic) are designed to have different amounts of the drug distributed throughout the entire patch, including in the adhesive.

Illegally produced fentanyl is also not prepared in a way that can guarantee the amount of the drug in a dose, or it’s potency. Using any form of fentanyl for IV use can easily result in overdose when you have no way to know how much fentanyl is in the liquid being injected.

In addition, all fentanyl has fillers, substances that are used to control the way the drug is introduced to the body, or additives that help to make the doses more manageable. None of the forms of fentanyl obtainable for IV use are intended to be injected into the bloodstream, and may affect how fentanyl works in the body, and may affect the potential of overdose. Some fentanyl has been found to have amounts of cocaine and heroin, which increases the risk for overdose.

Some symptoms of a fentanyl overdose include many of the same symptoms of an opioid overdose, like struggling to breathe, weakened heart rate, unconsciousness, being unresponsive. Several opioid affected individuals have stated that a fentanyl overdose is more intense and occurs more quickly than other opioid overdoses. People injecting fentanyl have been found to begin overdosing as soon as they push the plunger on the syringe.

Treatment For Fentanyl Misuse (Abuse And Addiction)

Injecting fentanyl is part of substance abuse that leads to fatal consequences quite often. Treatment programs that address opioid misuse, like fentanyl injection, can help to start a person on the journey to sobriety. It is strongly encouraged that a person struggling with opioid addiction, especially fentanyl, begin treatment with a medically assisted detoxification program to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal and start treatment with as much awareness as possible.

While in treatment, a person will learn what they need as an individual to maintain sobriety with an individualized treatment plan. They will be given the tools, education, and therapy needed to build a firm foundation to continue a fentanyl free future. To explore treatment options for IV fentanyl abuse and addiction, connect with us today.

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