Duragesic Abuse, Addiction, and Treatment Options

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Duragesic is a type of fentanyl, which is a strong opioid. Opioids are very addictive and many people who start using them for the right reasons can end up needing rehab to break free from an addiction. Treatment options are available for anyone who thinks they may have an opioid problem.

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What is Duragesic?

Duragesic (Fentanyl Transdermal System) is a patch that patients attach to their skin. The patch slowly releases fentanyl into their system for pain control. Duragesic is not to use for occasional pain like an over-the-counter pain reliever. This prescription medication is for chronic long-term pain.

Due to a dangerous risk of respiratory depression (slowed breathing), this should not be the first opioid a patient uses. Patients should be prescribed a different type of opioid to make sure they do not have a bad reaction to this type of medication. When a doctor prescribes Duragesic any other opioid medication should be stopped. Patients and caregivers should also consider having Naloxone on hand to stop a possible overdose while using Duragesic.


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What is a Duragesic (Fentanyl Transdermal System) High Like?

The Duragesic patch contains fentanyl. Fentanyl is a man-made strong opioid. The first prescription type of fentanyl was approved by the FDA in 1968 to be used in hospitals. Fentanyl can be 50 to almost 100 times stronger than morphine. Like morphine or heroin, this drug attaches to the body’s opioid receptors.

When fentanyl binds to the opioid receptors in the brain levels of dopamine are increased. High dopamine levels have the following effects on the body:

  • Decreases the feeling of suffering
  • Relieves pain and improves pain tolerance
  • Can produce a state of relaxation
  • Creates feelings of euphoria (overwhelming feeling of joy or happiness)

Other side effects of the Duragesic patch can include:

  • Respiratory distress
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Itching and other skin reactions at the application site
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • anxiety

Can Someone Overdose on Duragesic (Fentanyl Transdermal System)?

Unfortunately, it is very easy to overdose when using Duragesic. The patch is supposed to be worn for 72 hours, changing the patch too often can result in an overdose. Duragesic can slow down or stop someone’s breathing.

Respiratory distress (slowed or stopped breathing) is the biggest risk factor of a fentanyl overdose. This can quickly lead to a coma or death. It only takes 2-3 milligrams of fentanyl to cause death. Patients using Duragesic need to be very careful when they dispose of the used patches. There can still be enough fentanyl in them to cause an overdose in children.

Combining Duragesic (Fentanyl Transdermal System) With Other Substances

Serious medical problems can happen when some medications and drugs are used at the same time. Patients need to tell their prescribing doctors about each medicine, over-the-counter medicine, and supplement they are using. Fentanyl in any prescription form has a large number of drug interactions. The website Drugs.com lists 546 dangerous drug interactions. Drinking alcohol or using street drugs while using Duragesic can increase the chance of life-threatening side effects.

Fentanyl use Statistics in the United States

Fentanyl was originally created as an opioid pain medication, but now it is made illegally by many drug dealers. Almost 500,000 people have died from opioid overdoses from 1999-2019. This number includes prescription opioids and illegal opioids. Starting in 2013 there has been a sharp increase of overdose deaths specifically related to fentanyl.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that more than 31,000 deaths in 2018 involved synthetic opioids. This was 67% of the opioid-involved deaths in 2018. More than 36,000 people died from overdoses related to fentanyl in 2019. Early reports suggest that number could be even higher for 2020.

How Can Duragesic (Fentanyl Transdermal System) Patches be Misused?

As stated above, Duragesic patches should be changed every 72 hours. If a patient is changing them more often it is prescription drug misuse. There are other ways that Duragesic can be misused.

There was once a case in which a man was prescribed Duragesic and began misusing it by changing the patches more often. At the following appointment, it was discovered that he had been cutting up the used patches and chewing on them to get more fentanyl. Fortunately, it was discovered before he accidentally overdosed. He was switched to a more appropriate medication for his chronic pain.

Another report describes an additional way that Duragesic has been misused. In this case, fentanyl was extracted from one of the patches. The fentanyl was then used intravenously. Unfortunately, this case ended in an overdose death.

Duragesic (Fentanyl Transdermal System) Withdrawal Symptoms

Sometimes Duragesic misuse can turn into an addiction. When a person has been using an opioid drug for a long time their brain has become used to it. When they stop using, they will have withdrawal symptoms. Opioid withdrawal symptoms are similar for each type of opioid, including Duragesic. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Aching muscles
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever and chills
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

Duragesic (Fentanyl Transdermal System) Addiction Treatment Options

If someone has an addiction to fentanyl, they may consider going through a detox program to help manage withdrawal symptoms. Some detox programs can use medications to help make the withdrawal symptoms less severe. This is helpful, but detox is only the first step to recovery.

Duragesic (Fentanyl Transdermal System) Treatment Program Options

Patients recovering from a fentanyl addiction have to change their behavior patterns, so they do not start using the drug again. Each patient should talk to a professional to decide which treatment options will work best for their situation. Types of treatment programs include:

  • Inpatient treatment- Inpatient rehab is the most involved level of care. Patients live full time at the treatment program, sleeping, eating, and doing therapy without leaving the facility. This program is normally twenty-eight days long.
  • Partial hospitalization programs- (PHPs) This type of program is the highest level outpatient program. These programs meet five to seven days a week for several hours a day. When the program is finished for the day, the patient returns home. This type of program can be good for someone who is recovering from a strong addiction but does not require twenty-four-hour supervision.
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs- This type of outpatient treatment is good for people who need a lot of support but still have family and work commitments. IOPs usually meet three to four times a week for several hours. This allows patients to stay close to their support group.
  • Traditional Outpatient Therapy- This is the least restrictive type of therapy. Patients can meet with a counselor once a week to start with depending on the amount of care they need. Outpatient therapy is a good option for someone who has already been through more involved therapy but can still benefit from counseling sessions.
  • Sober living homes- A sober living home is a residence for people in recovery with some rules that need to be followed. Residents are required to pay rent and their own expenses and be part of an outpatient treatment program. The outpatient program does not usually happen at the house. There are no drugs or alcohol allowed at the house and residents may need to do occasional drug tests.

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Styles of Therapy for Duragesic (Fentanyl Transdermal System) Addiction

Within the various types of rehab programs, there are also different kinds of therapy available.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps patients recognize negative thought patterns, stop the thoughts, and replace them with healthy thoughts.  This focuses on the present rather than on memories and the past.
  • Group therapy- Group therapy can be extremely beneficial.  It provides the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others facing the same issues. It creates the opportunity for lifelong friendships and support. Group therapy remains confidential and occurs in a structured environment.
  • Individual Counseling- This type of counseling pairs the patient with a therapist. The therapist’s job is to ask the patient questions to help them understand themselves better. They also can make suggestions about what could be helpful to each individual.
  • Art Therapy- a person does not have to be good at art for this type of therapy to be helpful. Art can help express emotions that someone may not have the words for. Creating artwork can also be a distraction when someone may have a craving for the drug they have quit using.

More Information About Duragesic (Fentanyl Transdermal System) Recovery Options

Many people have successfully stopped addictions with the help of SpringBoard Recovery. No one should have to try to beat addiction on their own. We create individual programs for each person we help. Therapy and rehab are not a one size fits all situation. For more information please contact us today.

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