Fentanyl: A Drug Closely Associated With Heroin

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a type of drug which is illegal in some of its forms. It is used as a type of pain medicine or anesthetic in many hospitals. This opioid is often used to treat pain from problems such as cancer or to treat pain after surgery. Names of prescription forms of fentanyl include Sublimaze, Actiq, and Duragesic. Fentanyl is similar to the drug morphine but is more intense. Drug rehab at a drug treatment facility is often needed for people addicted to drugs closely associated with fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a schedule II drug substance and is classified as a narcotic. Herion is a type of drug closely associated with fentanyl, however fentanyl is a more addictive substance. Deaths from overdose have occurred from fentanyl use because this drug is sometimes sold as heroin. Heroin is one type of drug which is often a cause of addiction. People who use this drug are encouraged to seek treatment at one of many beneficial drug and alcohol rehab centers.

How is Fentanyl used?

This drug comes in many forms as it is a water soluble drug. Fentanyl can be injected, eaten in the form of a candy or used as a patch when it is taken as a medicine. In this drug’s illegal form it comes as a pill or in powder form where it can be smoked or snorted. If you or a loved one is addicted to an illegal drug, take action now and seek recovery at a drug treatment center.

Due to this drug’s constant illegal use, many companies have invented newer patch forms of the drug so it cannot be easily taken as an illegal drug. Popular street names for fentanyl include dance fever, friend, tango and cash, china girl, jackpot and TNT.

Signs/Symptoms of Fentanyl

Symptoms associated with fentanyl use include:

  • Headache
  • Dizzy feelings
  • Breathing complications
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Pain or numbness at injection site
  • Infection
  • Tired feelings
  • Constipation
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Fainting
  • Swelling of certain body parts
  • Dryness in the mouth
  • Allergic reaction
  • Sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion

Complications of Fentanyl

Complications of fentanyl and the use of fentanyl mixed with other drugs include:

  • Seizure
  • Depression
  • Urination changes
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hypertension
  • Anorexia
  • Coma
  • Amnesia
  • Insomnia
  • Bronchitis
  • Addiction

Complications of fentanyl and numerous other drugs can be very harmful. If you or a loved one struggles with chemical dependency, seek drug treatment now at one of many drug treatment facilities. These drug abuse centers have been proven beneficial to many people with addictions through their use of therapy and a variety of other drug treatment programs.

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21 Responses to “Fentanyl: A Drug Closely Associated With Heroin”

  1. Tomi Memmel

    Fentanyl, as prescribed by a doctor in patch form, is just as addictive as using it illegally. Many people become addicted and seek treatment just from using these and other pain meds exactly the way they are prescribed by their doctors.

    Reply
  2. Dave Ward

    My mother was given fentanyl while she was being treated for colon cancer. She is 81, and she was given 100 mqg and told she could where 2 patches, but this was not a effective way for her pain to be managed as the patches would fall off, and if they stayed on her, it would take a long time for the drug to enter her system. I suffer from a very painful disease called hidradenitis suppurativa, and I had to have a very large area of skin and muscle removed and the wound was left open so it could be treated with wet toi dry dressings using a form of acid, and I was given fentanyl via a pca machine,( patient controlled analgesia), but I found this drug to be less effective than the dilaudid I was on previously. I was told by my nurses that they had to destroy used patches because drug users would chew the used patches and get high from it. They did not know or care that they were ingesting skin cells, and other things that the sick person who just had their patch changed. I never felt high from fentanyl. The only time this drug was of an benefit was the dose given in my iv just prior to surgery. The anesthesiologist told me that I would be given more fentanyl prior to waking up from surgery so I would not have so much post op pain. That last dose did not help at all, I was in severe pain. After 2 days on the pca using fentanyl I asked my Dr to switch me back to dilaudid, and he did, and that helped ease my pain, My nurses were very concerned about me as they would see tears from my eyes when they came in do do anything. They asked if I wanted them to call and get permission to give me a bolus and increase my dose of fentanyl, I declined, I was scared of addiction, and I knew little about Fentanyl, but I did hear that many addicts who used heroin died when they used fentanyl thinking it was heroin. I was about 28 years old then, and I am 48 now, and I have had many more surgeries, and I will have another in a month, it had to be delayed until the mrsa infection I have cleared up.
    Bottom line is that I have not found fentanyl to be a good pain medication for myself or my mother. I have a very high tolerance to opiates, I have been disabled since 1993. There is no cure for the disease I have, and I now use methadone, I get 240 per month. That helps me.
    I would ask your Dr. if anyone is prescribed fentanyl if there is a alternative. I guess the drug works for some, or else they would stop selling it. As far as I know the only way that fentanyl is prescribed for use at home, is the patches. Most pain clinics do not prescribe fentanyl because the patches fall off so easily.
    Thank You

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  3. Larry. D

    I just pulled up this medicine because a family member is using the patch.she stated she was feeling irregular thru her head. She was sometimes incoherent & dizzy. As I continued to read I was shocke finder that the patch was associated with heroin & could lead to addiction. How & why was she prescribed this drug if these are the side effects.

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  4. Beverly Kurtin, Ph.D.

    Since acquiring Tardive Dyskinesia and poly neuropathy (from being kept on Dilantin too long following a massive hemorrhagic CVA) I’ve discovered that ONLY Fentanyl patches (50 mikes/hr) can control the agony that negatively affect my feet. Concurrently, I have just been put on Neurontin, a drug I have fought using for years, but it is preventing break-through pain.

    Fentanyl should NEVER be used for post-operative pain. Right there in the drug information pack is is contraindicated for post-op pain. I’ve been using Fentanyl when the only way you could buy it was non-Generic, so it’s been quite awhile, I estimate that I’ve continuously been on the drug for 16 years. I am unable to walk without using Fentanyl, to me, it is a blessing.

    HOWEVER, Fentanyl works only on nerve pain. Two years ago I had some extreme pain in my neck and had to go to the emergency room of my preferred hospital. The incompetent doctor asked me what the patch on my arm was and when I told him Fentanyl, he ordered me to take it off NOW. With Fentanyl, I should have no pain.

    I’m over 70 and have long ago given up the myth that M.D.s and D.O.s are demi-gods. I told him that I was using it for poly neuropathy and that it was contraindicated to simply remove the drug from my system. He argued with me about it so I asked if there was a real doctor on staff who I could see.

    Being one of those older docs who feel that they can order anyone to do anything, he turned red as an apple. “I AM THE DOCTOR, YOU WILL DO AS I ORDER.” With that, I returned to triage and asked for a doctor who had kept up on his medical information. The dimwit had also told me that I was having a heart attack! Being a survivor of five heart attacks, I know what a heart attack feels like, I was having JOINT PAIN, not an MI.

    Since they did not have another doctor, I left and drove to my secondary hospital. They admitted me and gave me full boluses of Morphine which was what was needed to resolve my immediate problem.

    Because I have a Ph.D., I am entitled to the honorific title doctor and I ALWAYS use that when I’m in a new medical situation. For some reason, if I just say that I’m in room such and such and need my meds, the place of eternal punishment will feature ice skating before I get my meds, but by saying this is DOCTOR Kurtin in room such and such, I get MUCH faster service.

    Bottom Line: Fentanyl is an excellent drug for controlling nerve pain. Fentanyl is useless for post-op or joint pain. Using the correct drug for the appropriate malfunction is the key to having a successful and less pain.

    I am so sorry for the person with SARS. It is iatrogenically caused, meaning you got it from a hospital or in a doctor’s office. That fact is why my family eats ONLY natural foods that contain NO ANTIBIOTICS or artificial hormones. It is the overuse of those products that are overused by the food industry. I urge all people to watch the movie “Food, Inc.” to understand what the food industry is doing to our bodies. It is available on Amazon and other outlets.

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  5. Beverly Kurtin, Ph.D.

    The association with heroin is an overreach. I have been on it for 16 years and have had no problems after the initial induction period. It is a SAFE and EFFECTIVE medication for pain. It is approximately 200 times as potent as Morphine, however, the amounts that are delivered via the pain patch ranges from 25 to 100 micro-grams per hour, a minute amount. I have gone from 25 to 100 and back down to my optimal 50 mikes/hr. I’d love to have the reference to heroin removed from this list because all it is is a relative of heroin and morphine.

    Fentanyl is not for everyone, but there is no way that I will NOT change my patch every 72 hours. I have a calendar I carry with me to remind me when to change my patch which I do every third midnight.

    Relax…all is well.

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  6. Beverly Kurtin, Ph.D.

    Yes. The major problem I had with my patches was that they occasionally fell off. I buy a product called Nexcare ™ by 3M that is available at almost any pharmacy. They’re a tad expensive at about $10 per box of ten. But here’s the way I apply them:

    After opening the package, I remove the pain patch and lay it down sticky side UP. Then I carefully place the patch on the sticky part of the Nexcare covering. Ta-daa! Look, ma, no more falling off and no more having to scrub the edges from dirt that accumulates around the plain patch.

    NOTHING replaces Fentanyl that I know about. It does take awhile to get used to the drug’s side effects (all drugs including aspirin have side effects). If a person does not get adequate relief OR is still dizzy, I suggest having the physician reduce the level of meds, there are four levels.

    I’ll readily admit that I am addicted to Fentanyl and if I ever get off of it, it’s going to require my going in for treatment, I’ve no doubt about that. But, I’ve been on it for 16 years, it is continuing to do its job, so why switch?

    About the only thing that concerns me is if, heaven forbid! that I get something like the big C, what will I do for analgesia? However, since my immune system is so high (I have psoriasis) that when I had a hysterectomy, the surgeon found cancer cells that had been killed by my immune system; I’m blessed, indeed.

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  7. tim salo

    im reading alot ofv pros and cons i was a 100mgs os methadone aday my doc put me on the 100p fentanel patch and only 2c methadones does it take awhile to get into my system nobody can tell me help

    Reply
  8. michael halton

    I have be using fentanyl for 8 months now after a car accident and a severed artery in my arm and ruined my shoulder. I stared with 75mm, down to 50mm, down to 25mm, curently using 12.5mm. The withdral is excruciating and cosen’t seem to be lesening.
    Anyone in a similar situation?

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  9. Mary

    my doctor put me on patches 75mcg I change them every 2 days, I take the old one off at 6pm and the new one goes on the next day a 8am, why if I leave it off longer my body aches (I don’t abuse, I nerve damage down my right leg and a disk out at L4 L5) is it because Ive been on it for soooo long that my body needs it now, Im sooo confused and scared :( oh my doctor wanted me to leave the patch on for 3 days and on second day add a new patch, would that not up the dose to 150mcg, that’s why I didn’t and I take it off on second night, and new one on in the a.m. am I still getting the 75mcg that way with out upping it the way my doctor told me to do it. 75mcg is my sweet spot I don’t dooze off im awake, but when he had me do it his way I fell asleep while making my 3 yr old a sandwich (standing up) sure the pain was gone but I was never awake, so I took it upon myself do change it every 2 days and everything is fine with no pain and wide awake and alert. now am I on these forever for the nerve damage, can I quit cold turkey or will I need help. Im sorry but im just looking for anwers, I was shock when I was reading everything on fentanyl patches and now Im freaking out scared, am I an addict, cos I don’t abuse it, heck I don’t even swear drink smoke or anything bad, but when I read its like heroin you kinda wonder, what did my Doctor do.

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  10. paul r letorno

    I have severe neuropathy both legs feet and left arm caused by long term exposure to automotive paint and solvents. Because i had no insurance i used liqour to sleep rendering me a recovering substance abuser in the eyes of docters not to mention aggravating my condition. I sleep 2 hours a night at the most and because I was honest with Drs about my alcoholism they would not prescribe me meds for pain. Now I have dr who is prescribing and put me on methadone 10mg twice a day which makes me lethargic and hardly treats the pain. I was told that fentanyl would be the next drug he will try. I was encouraged by your posts that maybe i will be out of pain somewhat or at least hope because nerve pain without treatment will push one to suicide wish me luck and thank you for the posts I have some hope now..

    Reply
  11. Marie

    Ms. Curtin, I was on Fentanyl for a month after being taken off Morphine 60 mg twice a day. Fentanyl nowhere compares to Morphine in the pain relief I was getting. I have stopped the Fentanyl and went back on Morphine since my pain increased three fold. Stop telling people Fentanyl is 200 times stronger than Morphine. It is not. Fentanyl patches don’t stay on the body, you can’t even take a long shower with them on. Say no to Fentanyl.

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  12. Marie

    Mary,
    Stop believing all this hype that Fentanyl is like Heroin. It is not. I stopped using the 75mcg since they did not good for me. I am taking Morphine 60 mg twice daily and it helps my nerve pain and back. Stop getting so upset that your an addict, you are not. You are addicted just like I am but we need this medication to have quality of life. If Fentanyl works for you then use if for the rest of your life. It didn’t help me. So don’t compare to Heroin anymore. Just like the PhD who said Fentanly is 200 times stronger than Morphine. It is not. Don’t believe everything you read.

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  13. Rose Lawrence

    Oh my $10 for a box of 10!!! WOW…here in Canada I pay $152 for a 3 mth supply, 30 patchs. Quite the difference. I was involved in a terrible accident and have fibromyalsia,myofasha(?) nerve damage over most of my left side not to mention the damaged beyond repair nerves and muscles. The Drs tried me on all the pain meds but the “blessing” was Fentanyl, I started with 100mcg and was given 120 oxy along with muscle relaxers and pain cream. I finally weaned myself off the oxy, NOT a smart thing to do with-out the Dr supervision, worst withdrawals a person could ever imagine!! After that I reduced my patch to 75, again the withdrawals aren’t fit for a dog!! I have certainly found a whole new respect for addicts, no wonder they don’t want to/can’t stop, the withdrawal pain is the worse pain you can go through. With the 75mcg I thought I was doing good, dropped to 50mcg….not good at all, but being so stubborn and sick and tired of being sick and tired I dropped myself to 25mcg…no go:( So I went to 37mcg, added a 12mcg to the 25. Still wasn’t controlling the pain so had to go back to 50, well unfortunatly I just recently(1 1/12 wks) had to go back to 75mcg, no quality of life and by 48hrs it felt like my patch was off!! Well here I am still going through horrible withdrawal feelings and will no doubt be back on 100mcg, along with an oral med. Mind you I’m only 100lbs soakin’ wet!! I know my body must be in sooo much pain to be able to tolerate this amount of narcotic and still feel ALOT of pain!! I pray every night that the next dose will get me “high” only because than I will know I can get off it!! Really don’t want this to be my life forever!! I want to feel “normal” I hope it’s not just me but I find it robs you of all emotion feelings. Sucks to live this way and “what is this Fentanyl doing to my body that I’m not aware of??

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  14. Penney Leslie

    Obviously everyone is different on every different medication there is. In my case, I had been on fentanyl about 6 months when the side effects of weight loss, sleepiness, and loss of apetite. I was only on 75 mcg when my Dr. Told me to just pull the patch off and go through the withdrawls. She prescribed me all the meds. to fend off the symptoms that were sure to come with withdrawls and told me to just get through the next week. I didn’t make it 48 hrs and was at the ER, where I was treated like a drug addict. I had the woorst 48 hrs of my life! I was so sick, I thought I was going to die, litterally. Nausea, vomitting, diahrea, the muscle spasms were the worst, I couldn’t control my movements. My blood pressure is still so high it’s ridiculous. All I can say is it was something Inever want to do again. I’m now weaning myself off by cutting the patches down myself. I’m down to half of a 12. It’s been rough, but my advice to anyone is if you don’t have to absolutely have to have fentanyl, don’t do this to yourself!

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  15. Penney Leslie

    To Rose Lawrence, it’s not just you. I understand everything that you feel because I have been there in fact I’m still there right now. I have never abused a drug in my life I have never even used a street drug. every night I have trouble falling asleep because of the muscle spasms. And everyday I pray that today’s the day I can take the rest of this patch off and go without it, but its not.the withdrawals suck so bad I can’t even explain it. If it was me I would just tell anyone not to ever use this drug, but obviously it has helped some folks.I wish my Dr had explained to me what would have happened had I ever needed to come off of the medication in advance.I had no idea at all how strong the medication was.I’m happy going through the pain that I have then the withdrawals. but as I said everyone this is just me and my experience.

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  16. Chuck Reynolds

    Fent patches can be a blessing to some, and all the heroin hype is nothing to be scared of, all prescription painkillers are directly related to heroin in some way or another. And with any prescription painkiller you will become dependent on it if you take a high dose for a length of time. NOW this does NOT mean you are addicted so to speak. This WILL happen to anyone that would take fent. Your body get used to taking it everyday and becomes accustomed to your opiate receptors and once you take that away you will go into withdrawals and they are by no means pleasant. Your doctor should help you taper off if you so happen to have to stop taking the fent and he may even prescribe methadone to help with withdrawals or suboxone or subutex (opioids that help people come off prescription painkillers) so all I’m saying is if you are truly in pain and you really need the patches then use them do not be scared to because pain can be a dark dark think in ones life and when patches are used correctly they definatly do there job. Thank you for your time~~ been doing prescription painkillers for 8 years and talk about them with my pain doctor and do countless hours of research on them.

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  17. Eric

    I have been on Fentanyl patches since I was extremely critically injured in a skydiving accident in 2003. The injuries were horrific and to say that I barely survived (after coding twice in the first 24 hours) would be a huge understatement. After many weeks in an induced coma and just about every major complication a traumatized body can develop, the docs finally brought me back. After another couple months in that first trauma center, insurance demanded that I be moved to a facility that they partner with. Up until that point I had been on Dilaudid, 4mg every 4 hours.

    In preparation for my transfer the doctor introduced me to the Fentanyl patches, and started me off on a 100mcg/hr patch (every 72 hours). Spent a couple more months at two more hospitals before being prematurely released to a waiting hospital bed in my living room. I was in and out of the hospital over the next 4 years for complications and additional surgeries, and at some point very early on in the process, my patch prescription was changed from 100mcg/hr to 200mcg/hr, though I don’t remember when or even why exactly.

    It’s now been 10 years (next month) since the accident. 10 years of 200mcg/hr Fentanyl dependence. It took me 2 or 3 years to figure out that the patches definitely were NOT lasting 72 hours, and that that was the reason I frequently had severe stomach cramps/pain and other complications. Although I have not increased my Fentanyl levels for 8 or 9 years, and hold steady at 200mcg/hr, several years ago I rotated from changing the patches every 72 hours, to every 60, then every 48. Other long term users may well notice that the patches do not last 72 hours, and find themselves suffering (sometimes severe) withdrawal symptoms every 3rd day. If that is the case, discuss it with your prescribing doctor and inquire into having the prescription changed to every 48 hours. The dosage won’t be any higher, so it’s not any more addictive, but it ensures that you’re receiving the medication you’re supposed to be receiving rather than only getting it for the first couple days and then being miserable for 1/3rd of your life.

    The reason I decided to write this, other than to share my personal experience with these patches, is to strongly warn anybody that may have only recently been prescribed the Fentanyl patch, or who might be looking into it for themselves or a relative to treat long-term pain. This is one of the most highly addictive medications known to man, and once you’re on a substantial dose (25-50 mics or more), it’s nearly impossible to get off. If for any reason you do not change your patches within the prescribed window (usually 72, but sometimes as low as 48 hours), you’re going to suffer severe withdrawal symptoms within just a few hours of missing your window. Same applies if for any reason your patch(es) fall off, or even partially aren’t in contact with your skin. If your local pharmacies screw up and don’t have any in stock, if your doctor goes on vacation and nobody else is covering for him/her that will prescribe it, if you go on vacation and run out or forget your patches, if you lose your insurance, etc., you’re in VERY serious trouble. It’s impossible to overemphasize how bad the withdrawals are for this medication, in fact it can kill you if you’ve been on a strong enough dose for a long enough period of time and you suddenly stop taking the medication for any reason. Personally, I start to suffer noticeable withdrawals within 3-4 hours without a patch on, and then it takes 3-4 hours for my body to normalize and stop suffering withdrawals from the moment I put a patch.

    Irregardless of whether the patches make you feel any differently, once you get on the patches, be aware that there are a number of activities that you may not legally be able to do until you somehow manage to get off of them. You can be arrested or cited for DWI if you’re wearing the patches and the officer believes that they impaired your ability to drive (whether you were in an accident or just pulled over). You cannot operate heavy machinery, which could be a problem for anybody who does so in the normal course of their job, which includes driving. Obviously this also applies to pilots, both commercial and private pilots, and any other activity that requires that you get a medical certificate. For those who like to exercise their right under the second amendment, be aware that one of the questions you’re asked when you purchase a firearm is whether you’re addicted to any medications (prescribed or otherwise). If you answer that question truthfully and you’re being treated with Fentanyl patches, be prepared for your purchase to be denied.

    For those looking to try and get off of the patches, there are only two real options, neither of them pleasant. The first is an inpatient detox, over a period of weeks or a rapid detox. Both are VERY expensive usually, although at least the rapid detox only takes days. If you can afford to pay for an experienced rapid detox center, that’s the best option.

    The second option is to ween yourself off of the patches very slowly over a period of time. The best way to do this is to make sure you’re using a brand of patches such as Mylan, which does NOT have a reservoir of mediation on the patch. The Mylan brand looks similar to Scotch tape, and you can easily and safely cut the patches. Do NOT cut any patches that have a liquid reservoir for storing the Fentanyl/alcohol. Trim 10 or 20% off the side of the patch, but do not adjust your window for taking your patches. See how you do with that for a week or so. You’ll know by that time if your body is having a measurable reaction to the reduction in mediation. A little discomfort is to be expected, but you might not experience any withdrawal signs at all. As long as you’re tolerating the reduction well, without any noticeable or significant withdrawals, cut the patches down another 10 or 20% the second week. Repeat the process and adjust as needed until you’re either completely off the patches within a few to several weeks, or until you discover what the minimum amount of medication is that you need in order to manage your pain. You can also take Tylenol, Aspirin, etc. to help with minor cramping you might experience as you’re reducing your dosage.

    Although ideally you should get completely off the patches if humanly possible, it’s still far better for your body to be on 25 or 50 mcg/hr rather than 75 or 100, or even more. Anything you can do to reduce the amount of Fentanyl you’re taking will improve your quality of life and your longevity. Good luck, and remember that if you’ve just recently started taking the patches, I highly, HIGHLY recommend that you do everything humanly possible to get off of them ASAP. Once you’re dependent on the patches, your quality of life will never again be the same until you die or get off of them.

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  18. pat

    I am on fentanyl 25mg patch replace every 3 days for past 2 yrs. I regularly am forced to be without for 1-7 days due to pharmacy rules,delayed mail,patch falls off and I end up short. I’ve not had any withdrawal symptoms except my pain increases as expected. I read that you should not stop taking suddenly, have discussed it with my Dr.,nurses,pharmacist. Dr. acted outraged but did nothing, nurse stated I.m on low dose so no worry and pharmacist says sorry take it up with doc and they don’t refill before due date which gets changed when meds are late. I may be lucky I don’t suffer the effects of withdrawal, it does concern me.
    Best wishes for all in pain.

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  19. Michael

    Thank you for telling the truth. I am so sick of the negative people give Fentanyl a bad name. Yes its bad if it is abused. But it is also a life saver.

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  20. Michael

    Eric, Fentanyl saved my life I was a chronic pain patient and took the pain meds. until my pain went away and then stop them because i did not like the propaganda about pain killers. My pain would then spike that I could not control it. I almost ended it a physiatrist figured out what I was doing. I needed to be on a steady amount of painkillers and yes 100 Fentanyl has saved my Life. So please this is a great drug if used right. My pain is nowhere near gone but I am still alive and controlled.

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  21. Michael

    Thank you Doctor for telling the truth about Fentanyl it saved my Life so used wright and in the right hands it is a great pain reliever. Let everyone stop the propaganda about pain scripts.

    Reply

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