Snorting or Smoking Fentanyl: What to Be Aware Of

Medically Reviewed

Fentanyl may be among the most dangerous drugs in the United States today. It’s an extremely potent opioid that’s extremely prevalent throughout the United States. While it does have medical uses as a pain relief drug, it’s also trafficked into the U.S. illegally and mixed into illicit drugs. Many people don’t set out to use fentanyl recreationally, but they end up taking it, thinking they were using another substance. 

Recreational use of fentanyl typically involves injecting the drug or taking pills or tablets. But what happens when you snort fentanyl? Is smoking fentanyl powder more dangerous? Learn more about fentanyl and the consequences of recreational use.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is one of the strongest opioids in the world. The strongest opioid may be one of its analogs, a chemically similar drug called carfentanil. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, which means that it’s made in a lab without the use of naturally occurring opioids. It can be used to treat moderate to severe pain symptoms in a variety of settings. It’s available as a transdermal patch, in epidurals, and in tablets. The military uses fentanyl lozenges for quick relief for severe pain in battlefield scenarios. 

However, though it’s used as a prescription drug, it’s very common as a recreational substance. Fentanyl is made in clandestine laboratories overseas and shipped into the U.S. or smuggled across the border. Because fentanyl is so potent, profitable portions can be shipped in small packages. Illegal fentanyl can produce a high that’s similar to other opioids like heroin, except fentanyl is much more powerful. A small dose, as small as three milligrams, can be enough to cause a fatal overdose in the average adult. Fentanyl is frequently mixed into other substances like heroin to increase their perceived potency. However, fentanyl is also mixed into other drugs without users knowing, leading to deadly overdose. In fact, fentanyl has been the driving force behind the opioid epidemic in the last few years. In 2019, there were more than 36,359 overdose deaths caused by fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids.

If you or a loved one is using fentanyl, there are certain things to be aware of that can help save lives. Today you’ll read about what some of those things are for people who abuse the narcotic by snorting or smoking it. You’ll learn what it is, what its original purpose is, and what to keep an eye for if you suspect someone is abusing the drug.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s often compared to morphine. It’s most commonly given as a prescription for people dealing with severe pain. If people have found out that they are tolerant of other popular opioids, they’re usually given fentanyl because of its potency.

On the street, fentanyl has nicknames like Jackpot, Cash, Friend, and China Girl, among many others. The three prescription names you might see for this drug are Duragesic, Actiq, or Sublimaze. Unfortunately,  synthetic opioids like this one are the reason, so many drug overdoses occur in America, and numbers are only rising. Like other opioids, fentanyl is extremely addictive, and you can become addicted to it without misusing or abusing it.

What Happens if Fentanyl is Snorted?

One reason people snort opioids is to feel the effects quicker. When snorted, fentanyl gets absorbed into your bloodstream and will reach the brain in just a couple of minutes. If someone is wanting quick relief from pain or abusing the drug, they may snort it to get it into their system faster.

Another thing that snorting fentanyl does is make the high and side effects much more intense. It reaches your brain faster than taking it orally, and your body and brain can become overwhelmed, and everything gets heightened. This is when side effects can become dangerous and life-threatening. You can stop breathing due to the drug affecting your respiratory system, and if no one else is around, this can lead to death.

If a substance isn’t supposed to be snorted, it’s dangerous to do so and is never advised. In other words, don’t snort fentanyl or any other drug.

What About Smoking Fentanyl?

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.

Fentanyl and Heroin

You can’t read an article about fentanyl without learning about its interaction with heroin. Those who smoke fentanyl are usually combining it with heroin or other drugs like meth. This can cause an overdose even quicker than before.

Heroin has a similar effect on the body and is much cheaper than fentanyl when you’re buying it illegally. It’s common for people to switch back and forth between the two drugs and usually settling on heroin because of the price difference. And, it’s much easier to come by on the street.

Some side effects of heroin are listed below, so you’re a bit more aware if someone is using it instead of fentanyl:

  •       Euphoria or Feeling Spacey
  •       Randomly Falling Asleep
  •       Skin flushing and warming
  •       Severe Itching and Scratching
  •       Heavy Limbs
  •       Slowed breathing or heart rate
  •       Vomiting
  •       Depressed Mood
  •       Nausea
  •       Dry Mouth

Why is Fentanyl Dangerous?

No matter how you take fentanyl, it can be potentially life-threatening to misuse or abuse. Fentanyl’s danger comes from its potency. Many opioids can cause life-threatening side effects when they’re taken in high enough doses. However, even small amounts of fentanyl can cause a deadly overdose. When the drug is used in medical settings, it’s measured out in safe doses by professionals. But the drug is so potent that drug dealers and traffickers may not be able to measure out safe doses, so users encounter fatal overdoses.  

Fentanyl, like other opioids, can slow down activity in your central nervous system. In safe doses, this adds to its usefulness as a pain reliever because it can aid in relaxation and sedation. However, in high doses, fentanyl can slow down vital nervous system functions like your breathing. During an overdose, fentanyl can cause a drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness, nausea, vomiting, cold skin, and restricted breathing. Respiratory depression causes your breathing to slow down or stop, which can also show signs like blue lips or fingertips. An opioid overdose can be reversed with a drug called Narcan, but only if it’s administered in time.

Fentanyl Overdose

Thanks to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we know that most overdose deaths in recent years are due to fentanyl. Since it’s nearly 100 times more potent than drugs like morphine, overdose can almost happen immediately, especially if snorting or smoking. The highest risk of overdose comes from injecting, which isn’t as common for fentanyl.

When someone overdoses on fentanyl, they will begin to shake and seize. They can be heard gurgling and foaming at the mouth. They may appear confused, and their breathing can stop. One of the only things that can reverse an overdose from fentanyl is Naloxone. Because fentanyl is so potent, Naloxone needs to be administered as soon as possible and often requires several doses to combat the fentanyl.

Side Effects of Fentanyl & Risks

Whether it is smoked, snorted, or taken orally, there are plenty of side effects that come with this super potent pain reliever. Along with side effects, there are risks and things to be aware of that could save your own life or that of someone you love. Below are some of the most popular side effects seen with people using fentanyl:

  •       Feeling dizzy
  •       Unable to use the restroom
  •       Nausea and vomiting
  •       Headaches
  •       Trouble with vision
  •       Difficulty sleeping and bad dreams
  •       Swollen extremities
  •       Feeling warm and itchy
  •       Randomly falling asleep or excessive fatigue
  •       Hallucinating
  •       Shaking and sweating
  •       Dry mouth
  •       Lack of appetite
  •       Depression

Someone using fentanyl might experience all or none of these things. If you are abusing it, you are more likely to feel more side effects. There are plenty of things listed above to be aware of when it comes to smoking or snorting the drug and its association with heroin. Lastly, you may want to know about withdrawal from this drug.

Fentanyl Withdrawal

Just like most drugs, you’ll find fentanyl has a risk of addiction, abuse, and dependency. When you stop taking the drug, withdrawal symptoms can be seen within 12 hours of the last dose you’ve had. Symptoms tend to last a week at minimum and can go longer depending on the individual and their use and dosing of the drug. It can also depend on your taper schedule.

Here are a few of the fentanyl withdrawal symptoms :

  •       Dilated pupils
  •       Vomiting
  •       Anxiety
  •       Goosebumps and chills
  •       Runny nose
  •       Sudden feelings of hot or cold
  •       Trouble sleeping
  •       Bodily pain
  •       Agitation or feeling easily irritated

Since fentanyl is so easy to become dependent on and people who abuse it generally start to take more than necessary, withdrawal can be lengthy. If you or someone you love shows any of the symptoms listed, consider finding help.

If help isn’t sought, there are plenty of harmful consequences that may occur, including death. Recovery is possible and can be done inpatient or outpatient depending on the individual and their recovery needs.

For serious fentanyl or opioid addiction, treatment at a residential treatment center is recommended. There you will be able to be surrounded by medical and substance abuse professionals that know how to treat the withdrawal symptoms. They’ll be able to get you on a taper schedule, gradually decreasing your dosage. They can also administer medication that can help curb the most uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Give us a call today and allow us to help you find the best treatment path for you. We’re here, and we care.  You deserve to be free from addiction, and we’re committed to helping you get there.

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