Subsys (Fentanyl Sublingual Spray) Addiction

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Subsys is a brand-name opioid agonist drug. The active ingredient in Subsys is fentanyl, which is a very powerful opioid pain medication. Subsys is intended to be prescribed to cancer patients experiencing breakthrough pain. Subsys should only be given to patients 18 and older, who already have a tolerance to opioid pain medication. Someone should be on around-the-clock medication, such as at least 60 mg of oral morphine taken daily, or an equivalent dose of another opioid to use Subsys. A patient should stay on their around-the-clock medicine when taking Subsys. Subsys is the first and the only sublingual spray for the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain.

The active ingredient in the spray, fentanyl, is not only very potent for pain relief, but it also acts as a sedative. The effects of fentanyl are similar to heroin, and despite the medical uses for this prescription opioid, it’s diverted from medical use, and it’s also illicitly manufactured and sold on the black market. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is estimated to be anywhere from 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and it should only be prescribed in cases of severe, otherwise unmanageable, pain. Subsys specifically is 100 times more powerful than morphine. Other brand name pharmaceutical forms of fentanyl include Actiq, Duragesic and Sublimaze. Along with the Subsys sublingual spray, fentanyl can also be given by a physician-administered injection, as a transdermal patch or in lozenge form.

Subsys (Fentanyl Sublingual Spray) Addiction
Subsys comes in a compact device that’s a single-unit application. The fentanyl spray device provides 0.1 mL of an oral solution, which is non-ionized fentanyl. It’s the only version of this kind, and the formula can them disperse broadly over the mucosa of the mouth. Subysys also contains a sugar-free sweetener. The spray technology can be administered in seconds. Before using it, the person should swallow saliva in their mouth. They can then take the Subsys spray unit and hold it upright between the index and middle fingers and the thumb. Then, the nozzle is pointed under the tongue of the patient, and the medicine can be sprayed. The medicine should be held under the tongue for 30 seconds to a minute.
There have been recent reports about the dangers and deadly effects of fentanyl. Fentanyl acts like other opioids in that it binds to certain receptors throughout the brain and the central nervous system. It can cause euphoria, but since it’s so powerful, it more often causes rapid sedation in patients. While fentanyl is a Schedule II controlled substance that’s only supposed to be used in very specific situations, it is diverted from medical use as well as being manufactured in illegal laboratories. Fentanyl is extremely addictive. Like the effects of other opioids, it alters the brains functionality and introduces artificially high levels of neurotransmitters responsible for pleasure and reward. There have been news reports about Subsys being prescribed to patients who shouldn’t be using it. There was a company sales rep who worked for Insys, which manufactures Subsys. That sales rep went to the media and told them that she was encouraged to sell it in a way that framed it as “medically necessary.”

The whistleblower report put even more spotlight on a growing problem. Drugs like Subsys and other opioids are so widely available, despite the laws and regulations that are supposed to guide their use. These drugs are powerful, highly addictive and can change the brain and body quickly. When there are reports that come out about patients being prescribed something as addictive as Subsys when they don’t have cancer, it creates more concern around the already devastating opioid epidemic. Along with addiction and dependence, Subsys and other drugs like it lead to thousands of overdose deaths a year, and sometimes people prescribed these medications aren’t fully aware of the risks.

The Recovery Village works with patients and their families to create treatment plans that help them escape the burden of addiction. Contact us to learn more.