Sufentanil Infographic

What is Sufentanil?

Sufentanil, also known by its brand name, Sufenta is a synthetic opioid drug that is about 5 to 10 times more potent than its parent drug, fentanyl, and 500 times as potent as morphine. This drug was formulated to give severe pain relief for a short period of time, such as in operating rooms and emergency situations.

The term opiate is sometimes used interchangeably with opioids and narcotics. Synthetic opioids are highly addictive substances and are the synthetic version of opiates, a group of drugs that can be legally prescribed for treating pain. The non-synthetic medicines are derived from the poppy plant, which is also used to make heroin.

Sufentanil is formulated for hospital use and is delivered through a patient’s vein (intravenously).

Before 2018, fentanyl was the most potent prescription painkiller in the United States1, and its abuse has been driving the casualty rate in the opioid crisis.

What Are the Symptoms of Sufentanil Use or Abuse?

 There will definitely be signs and symptoms of abusing this drug. A person who is using Sufentanil will not be able to “fake” being sober. Sufentanil is one of the most potent opiates in the world, and it will have many effects that are noticeable and dangerous, especially in the hands of inexperienced opioid users.

Opiates such as Sufentanil are highly addictive drug due to the effects they give the drug user. Users will feel euphoric, sleepy, and comforted while they are high. While they are on the drug, they may seem incoherent, mumble or act confused. They may “nod out” – slipping in and out of consciousness. Nausea is common. 

Why is Sufentanil So Dangerous?

 For recreational drug users, taking Sufentanil is a severe risk to life. This drug was manufactured for people with severe surgeries and trauma like car accidents. The manufacturer describes it as a drug meant for somebody who is unconscious or intubated. When you’re under the influence of Sufentanil, you’re not supposed to be awake. It’s intended to put people to sleep and make them completely numb. In such a state, it is impossible for you to alert somebody that you are sick or have trouble breathing, which are telltale signs of overdose.

Many people who use opioids develop a tolerance and become physically dependent on them. This could lead to them exploring other opioids, buying street drugs like heroin, and accidental overdoses.

For people who illegally acquire and use opioids, fentanyl has been a hazard. People with substance use disorders have been dying from fentanyl overdoses in record numbers, and many didn’t even know they were taking it. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that nearly 30,000 overdoses in 2010 can be attributed to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. There are a lot of tainted drugs being sold to drug users on the streets. This is why Sufentanil has made medical professionals and addiction professionals wary. An unaware drug user exposed to Sufentanil-tainted opioids faces danger.

What Are the Long-Term Effects and Dangers of Sufentanil Use?

Sufentanil is a powerful drug that has the potential to wreak havoc on your body’s systems. It was never intended for long-term use. When strong opioids are prescribed for treating pain, they are typically used on a short-term basis. (Sufentanil is meant for use in hospital settings.)  When an opiate is used repeatedly, the person using it will develop tolerance to the drug. They’ll need more of it to get the same effect, but using more puts them in danger of an overdose when a drug is as strong as Sufentanil.

No matter which opioid a user takes, opioids cause depressed respiration. This means that less oxygen reaches the brain. The medical term for this is hypoxia. It has dangerous effects that can be short-term or long-term. This can cause opioid users to have permanent brain damage and other neurological effects. Opioid users also experience neurological effects from their drug use when it is long-term.

One of the most frightening side effects of using a drug like Sufentanil, even in a short-term medical setting, is the possibility of dependency and addiction.

Sufentanil is one of the most potent opioids in the pharmaceutical industry, and it’s not yet known what additional long-term use and abuse will result in for the user.

 Signs and Symptoms of Sufentanil Dependency/Addiction

 Addiction is a dominant disease, but it’s not always apparent. A person who is struggling with their substance use will act differently, and they may have other changes that they are trying to hide.

A person who is injecting an opioid like Sufentanil may wear long sleeves to hide the needle marks on their arms. Like other opioid users, their appearance will probably change in different ways. They may appear pale and sickly and get skin infections often. You may worry that they are suffering from poor health because they look so ill.2

Of course, if you’re around the drug user while they’re high, they will act differently and may alarm you with their behavior or nonchalance.

Addiction is a disease that also changes how the drug user thinks and feels. They may hide their drug stash, quit hanging out with family and friends, and seem to lose interest in things they once enjoyed. As addiction progresses, the Sufentanil user loses jobs, has a lot of financial problems, or even gets in trouble with the law to help feed their addiction. Sufentanil is a powerful drug, and when they can’t get ahold of it, they will probably choose to substitute. Many people who started out on prescription opioids move to heroin or illicit street drugs.

People who are addicted or dependent need more of the same drug to get the same effects. They will probably experience intense withdrawal effects, such as sweating, diarrhea, fever, and chills. Most people addicted to a strong opioid need to go to a detox program to get help. Without help, the withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly uncomfortable to cope with alone.

Getting Clean from Sufentanil (or Any Other Drug!)

Getting clean from Sufentanil is possible, but it’s recommended that if you want to detox from opiates, you do so with the supervision of a treatment professional. This is especially true if you’re using a powerful drug like Sufentanil.

Drugs do damage to our bodies, and any underlying health conditions may be exacerbated by withdrawal. Withdrawal can be dangerous if this is the case.  Medication-assisted treatment may be necessary to help calm withdrawal symptoms. Being observed while you’re getting clean is also recommended to keep the drug user as safe and as comfortable as possible.

When a person is quitting a potent opioid, withdrawal symptoms can last weeks or even months. However, the worst parts – which tend to be physical – last a few days. These include diarrhea, muscle pain, fevers or chills. Emotional symptoms related to withdrawal, such as anxiety, depression, or paranoia, may last weeks or even months. If these symptoms don’t go away, it’s important to see a mental health professional. Many people who use substances are self-medicating for signs of a mental health disorder.

 Getting Help for Substance Abuse 

If you or somebody you love is abusing Sufentanil, or another drug, recovery is possible. Using Sufentanil recreationally is dangerous and can be deadly.

Addiction isn’t a lifestyle, it’s a disease. Addiction can cause problems with your health, relationships, workplace, and finances.

You don’t have to let it destroy your life when there are so many options for treatment and recovery. The recent development of MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment), including drugs like Sublocade (extended-release buprenorphine or BUP-XR) has greatly improved the comfort of getting sober and the long-term positive outcomes of treatment.

Pick up the phone to learn more about how you can detox and create a treatment plan. Learn more about how to reclaim your life and begin your recovery journey today.

1.Fentanyl DrugFacts, available here.
2.Fentanyl, available here.