Pentazocine is a generic drug, available by prescription and sold under brand names including Talwin. Pentazocine activates certain opioid receptors, and it relieves pain ranging in intensity from moderate to severe. Pentazocine started increasingly being misused recreationally in the 1970s, and since that time, naloxone has been added to drug formulations. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, meaning it blocks the effects of opioids. If pentazocine is used as instructed and taken orally, the naloxone shouldn’t have any effect on the patient. If someone tries to misuse it by breaking or crushing the tablet, the naloxone will become effective and is supposed to block desirable opioid effects, such as euphoria. The introduction of naloxone into formulations of drugs with the active ingredient pentazocine has reduced misuse, but addiction is still possible.
Pentazocine is currently a Schedule IV drug in the U.S. This means that while it is a controlled substance, and there are certain guidelines surrounding how it’s prescribed and used; the DEA sees it as less risky than many other opioids. Most opioids are Schedule II in the U.S. Schedule II drugs are indicated to have a high potential for severe addiction, psychologically and physically. Schedule IV drugs have medical uses, and the risk of misuse is low relative to Schedule I, II and III substances. However, even though the risk of misuse is low according to current pentazocine regulations, there is the possibility of dependence, physically or psychologically.
As was touched on, when pentazocine was first introduced, the misuse potential was high. It was often a preferred drug of misuse because of the opioid effects. Now, that’s not necessarily the case because it’s formulated with naloxone. There are injectable versions of pentazocine that are used to relieve pain ranging from moderate to severe, or before surgery. This solution could be diverted from medical use and misused. Brand-name versions of pentazocine like Talwin are not only formulated with naloxone, but they have an overall ceiling effect. This means that beyond a certain dose, a person isn’t going to experience more pain relief or more euphoria by taking more. It should be noted that not all pentazocine drugs include naloxone, but Talwin is the most common in the U.S. and it does.
In terms of pain relief, pentazocine affects the brain and body much like other opioids. Certain opioid receptors are activated by pentazocine, which affects the function of the central nervous system. When someone uses pentazocine, it changes how pain signals are sent between the body and the brain, as is the case with other prescription opioids. However, the naloxone acts on the central nervous system to block the euphoric or high feeling some people get from the use of opioids. Side effects of pentazocine are similar to other opioids and can include constipation, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. Pentazocine is more likely than other opioids to cause side effects like nightmares, hallucinations and delusions.
The half-life of pentazocine is important to understand for a few different reasons, including the prevention of an overdose. It’s also important to avoid mixing the drug with certain other substances that could be harmful. The half-life of any drug is a measure of how long it takes for half a dose to be eliminated and no longer active in the system of an individual. The half-life of pentazocine is estimated to be anywhere from two to four hours. It usually takes five half-lives for a drug to be fully eliminated from the system of a patient. Within ten to 20 hours, most of a dose of pentazocine will have been metabolized and will be out of the system of the person who used it.
With any drug, while the half-life can provide a general estimate of how long it might stay in the system of a patient, there’s not all there is to it. Every person is going to have a unique elimination time for drugs, based on individual characteristics and situational factors. Factors that influence how long pentazocine stays in your system can include:
- If other substances have been used at the same time, it can take longer for a dose of pentazocine to leave the system of a patient, as opposed to someone who just used pentazocine.
- If someone is a long-term pentazocine patient, it may accumulate in their system and take longer for it to be eliminated.
- If someone has a faster metabolism than another person and all other factors are the same, the person with the faster metabolism will likely eliminate pentazocine from their system faster.
- Older people generally have longer drug elimination times than younger people.
- Someone with health problems or liver or kidney functionality problems may have longer drug elimination times.
- How hydrated someone is and their urinary pH can influence how long pentazocine stays in their system.
- A physically active person may eliminate substances from their system faster than someone who isn’t.
It is possible pentazocine could show up in certain drug tests. In a urine test, which is the most common type of drug screening administered, pentazocine could show up for a few days after it was used. Hair tests provide the longest detection window. Pentazocine could show up in a hair follicle test for up to 90 days after it was used. Blood tests have the shortest detection window, and they’re not frequently used. A blood test might show the use of pentazocine for up to 24 hours.
The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol & Pentazocine
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