Fentanyl Patch Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More

Many are aware of the potential dangers of the various illicit forms of Fentanyl–these substances can be highly addictive. However, there is one kind of Fentanyl that is prescribed that can be habit-forming. What is Fentanyl patch addiction, and what should you know about it? Read to know more.

Fentanyl is a well-known, potent type of opiate which is usually given to patients suffering from severe pain. Because of its rapid onset and effects that last around two hours, many people who take this drug can become addicted even after their condition has subsided.

There are various forms of prescribed Fentanyl, such as those taken orally as a tablet, lozenge, or a film to be dissolved in the mouth. For some who cannot tolerate taking Fentanyl orally, there are what is called “transdermal patches” that can be applied to the skin. Transdermal patches can also be used to rapidly relieve the site of pain as Fentanyl is known to be a fast-acting drug.

How Do Fentanyl Patches Work?

Fentanyl transdermal patch works primarily by delivering the analgesic effects of the drugs through the skin. The skin absorbs the drug through the pores, and absorbs the Fentanyl and carries it through the bloodstream. As the drug eventually reaches the brain, it meets the opiate receptors, which in turn sends signals in the brain and the body to exhibit the following effects:

  • Feelings of euphoria: Opiates are known to imitate feelings of extreme happiness as it binds to receptors known to control pain and emotion.
  • Drowsiness: People who take Fentanyl transdermal patches may also experience sleepiness as it relaxes the body and soothes the pain.
  • Pain relief: When taking Fentanyl patch doses as prescribed, it can be a helpful pain-relieving substance for chronic pain and advanced cancer patients going through chemotherapy.

Where to place Fentanyl patch?

The Fentanyl patch should be placed as prescribed by your doctor. Some physicians recommend placing the transdermal patch on the area where you are experiencing the most pain, particularly if you are a chronic pain sufferer or someone with a cancer diagnosis. The site where you will apply the patch should be clean and dry. When applying a new patch, it should be placed in an area that is different than where the last patch was placed.

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Are there side effects to Fentanyl transdermal patch?

It is important to note that Fentanyl patches can also produce unwanted side effects even when taken as prescribed and even more so when abused. Here are some side effects you can expect when taking Fentanyl transdermal:

Fentanyl patch side effects: What to expect

  • Nausea: As the body gets used to taking any type of potent drug, an individual may experience a “sick to the stomach” feeling during initial doses.
  • Constipation: Fentanyl tends to slow down various vital organ processes, which can also affect the intestines. As a result, bowel movements may be slower leading to constipation.
  • Confusion: Feelings of euphoria may also be accompanied by confusion as the drug tends to disrupt various brain mechanisms for processing information, aside from pain and emotions.
  • Respiratory problems: Signs of respiratory problems due to Fentanyl use are slow breathing, labored breathing, or irregular breathing. This substance is also known to slow down lung function being a strong type of opiate.
  • Loss of consciousness: Fentanyl transdermal patch is also recognized to have an anesthetic effect. Thus, some patients may experience not only drowsiness but a loss of consciousness during use.

People who use Fentanyl patches should watch out for these side effects. More importantly, they should also consider the potential for this drug to cause an addiction. Many opiates, even when prescribed, can make susceptible individuals suffer from substance use disorder. The effects of Fentanyl may be habit-forming, especially if patients get “hooked” on the pleasurable feelings they get from taking the drug.

Fentanyl Patch Abuse

Fentanyl transdermal patches have a black box warning, such as those seen in Duragesic labels. This is done to warn patients of the possible addiction, abuse, and misuse complications when the drug is not taken appropriately. It is always advisable to use the lowest effective dose or as prescribed by the doctor. Otherwise, there are some substance use disorder signs that you need to watch out for:

Fentanyl abuse signs and symptoms:

  • Using the patches more than the intended dosage – Your physician will provide a specific time and frequency of applying the transdermal patches. A sign of dependence on this drug is when you are compelled to take it more often than what is prescribed.
  • Feelings of intense cravings or general uneasiness without the drug – Your doctor will also lower the dosage of Fentanyl patches prescribed to you over time. They will either provide a patch with lower potency or ask you to apply fewer patches over a 24-hour period. Fentanyl dependency is possible when you feel like your body craves using the patches whenever the effects wear off.
  • Hazardous use of the drug – When taking the drug, you may have experienced life-threatening side effects such as Fentanyl patch overdose, respiratory problems, or loss of consciousness. Additionally, you recognize that using patches are associated with various behavioral changes in yourself that may have harmed other people around you.
  • Experiencing physical and psychological symptoms to drug use – Opiate abuse is known to produce moderate to severe affectations in the mind and the body. You may have noticed drastic weight and physical appearance changes, intense mood swings when you are off the drugs, rapid heartbeat or chest tightness. Anxiety and depression are also known symptoms when the person attempts to decrease the use of the patches.
  • Having effects of withdrawal – It is also possible to have Fentanyl patches withdrawal when you attempt to stop or lessen your use. A sign that your body may be dependent on the drug is when you experience nausea, vomiting, flu-like symptoms, hallucinations, or a feeling of being unwell when you refuse to take the patches.

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms regarding Fentanyl patch abuse, it is best to get help right away. Seeking professional assistance regarding substance use problems can save your life from potentially fatal consequences such as overdose and withdrawal complications.

How Can I Get Help From Fentanyl Patch Abuse?

You may have noticed signs and symptoms of Fentanyl abuse in yourself or a loved one, and you have decided to seek help but are unsure of where to start. A good addiction treatment facility will guide you through the process of getting you or a loved one into rehab.

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Fentanyl patch abuse treatment process: Step-by-step

Step 1: Contacting addiction professionals

You may reach out to inquire about your or a loved one’s substance use disorder problem. At this time, you can get help verifying if your insurance covers Fentanyl addiction treatment, or discover other options to get you started with picking a center.

Step 2: Assessment

Once details are clear regarding your chosen center, you can proceed to getting a formal assessment from medical professionals regarding a substance use disorder (SUD). Having a thorough assessment can help in providing a custom treatment that will address your needs during the rehabilitation process. Different types of assessments include lab tests, interviews, and completing forms and checklists.

Step 3: Treatment

The treatment process for Fentanyl addiction contains two steps, comprising of detox and treatment proper. Generally, people respond to opioid antagonist substances such as Naloxone in reducing dependency on Fentanyl. This can be given during the detox period which typically lasts 1-5 days. Otherwise, over-the-counter medications and adequate bed rest are provided when Naloxone is not recommended for your case.

The treatment proper will be given once the patient feels comfortable enough and withdrawal symptoms have waned. Some treatment options available at many rehab centers include:

  • 12-Step Rehab
  • Non-12 Step Rehab
  • SMART Recovery
  • Holistic Approaches
  • Faith Treatment
  • Luxury Rehab
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

The advice of addiction specialists and medical professionals along with your personal preferences will be collaborative to help you decide the best treatment option during rehab.

Step 4: Aftercare

The effects of rehab should not end during the period that you are within the facility. Thus, a competent rehab center must be able to provide an aftercare program that can help you stay on track towards your sobriety goals. Some aftercare programs include the following:

  • Nutrition and fitness programs
  • Continued psychotherapies and counseling
  • Support groups within your local community
  • Relapse prevention guides

These programs may be combined to help you achieve success in your recovery. Remember that the risk of relapse is more common than most people think, and going through one does not mean your addiction treatment is a failure. The goal of aftercare is to help you stay grounded, even if you experience a misstep during your addiction recovery efforts.

A Clean Slate Is Possible: Don’t Just Patch Things Up!

It may be easy to feel discouraged when you or a loved one is suffering from Fentanyl patch abuse. However, it is important to know that being addiction-free is possible through proper treatment. The strong decision and commitment to break free from substance use disorder is more potent than any other bondage that addiction can produce.


Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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