Sufentanil (Dsuvia) Use, Abuse & Addiction
Last Updated Dec 2, 2021
Sufentanil is the active ingredient in Dsuvia, which is classified as an opioid agonist.
Sufentanil works by binding to the central nervous system’s opioid receptors, making it a powerful medication.
Sufentanil injection is used to relieve pain that occurs during and after surgery as well as for postoperative pain control. Dsuvia is the sublingual tablet version of this drug.
The release of dopamine that occurs when taking sufentanil yields a euphoric feeling, which is one of the reasons why it is highly addictive.
Dsuvia and drugs that contain sufentanil should only be used by adults and with medical supervision, such as in hospitals and emergency rooms.
More on Sufentanil
Sufentanil is an analog of fentanyl and an opioid analgesic.
Sufentanil has no active metabolites and ends up being 5 to 10 times more potent than the parent version of the drug. Along with desired effects, which include pain relief and muscle relaxation, sufentanil can also yield unwanted side effects.
Sufentanil works by binding to opioid receptors, receptors that are responsible for controlling emotion and pain. Over time, taking sufentanil and other opioids frequently will result in a diminishing effect, which sets the table for addictive behavior. In many cases, individuals begin to see no pleasure in life other than when they are on the drug.
When taken with other drugs and/or alcohol, sufentanil and other opioids can cause prolonged intoxication, seizures, coma, and even death. Taking opioids with alcohol and other controlled substances is often referred to as cross-fading or goofballing.
Sufentanil provides such effective pain relief and feelings of euphoria that it is highly addictive.
The fact that sufentanil is a Schedule II drug means that it comes with a high risk of dependency and addiction. However, because sufentanil and Dsuvia are only prescribed to adults in medical settings lessens the likelihood that they can be used and/or abused in a long-term fashion.
Individuals who become addicted to sufentanil often require medical detox. It is not recommended to quit sufentanil cold turkey. Most often, a gradual taper with the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is recommended.
Sufentanil addiction can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including physical symptoms, mental, and behavioral. Individuals who become addicted to sufentanil may seem disengaged and have trouble keeping a regular routine. It is not uncommon for someone addicted to opioids to show up late to work or miss engagements altogether.
Over time, addiction leads to social withdrawal. As drug abuse becomes the main priority in life, the person withdraws from friends and family. This isolation often furthers the drug use cycle.
Side Effects & Risks
More common side effects of sufentanil and Dsuvia use include the following:
- Hot and cold flashes
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
Unwanted effects may include the following:
- Blurred vision
- High body temperature
More severe and less common side effects include the following:
- Bloody urine
- Chest pain
- Burning or tingling sensations
- Decreased heart rate
- Shallow breathing
Long-term use of fentanyl and sufentanil can result in menstrual complications, respiratory problems, mood swings, and reduced libido. Prolonged use of sufentanil will also worsen any withdrawal symptoms when sufentanil use ceases.
As with any opioid, overdose is possible with Dsuvia. It’s even more likely due to its potency.
Signs of sufentanil overdose include the following:
- Extremely dilated pupils
- Body limpness
- Skin discoloration
- Slow or weak breathing
How Do People Get Sufentanil?
Sufentanil can be obtained by prescription from a medical professional as an injection, tablet, patch, or lozenges that can be taken the same way as cough drops.
Synthetic fentanyl and sufentanil are also acquired illegally, usually in the form of a powder, pill, or put in nasal spray or eye drops. Sufentanil can also be made in labs and is easily distributed on the streets.
Since sufentanil is an opioid, the body can become dependent upon this drug, especially after prolonged use. Symptoms of sufentanil and opioid withdrawal include the following:
- Hot or cold flashes
- Slowed breathing
Initial signs of withdrawal include body aches, dizziness or disorientation, exhaustion, and later nausea and vomiting.
Withdrawal symptoms can begin in as little as 12 hours and last for up to a week. Many individuals keep misusing opioids to avoid opioid withdrawal. This creates a vicious cycle of dependency.
Mild withdrawal symptoms will generally not require medical intervention, but if extreme symptoms of any kind are present, it is a good idea to seek immediate medical attention as soon as possible.
Treatment for sufentanil withdrawal and opioid addiction includes medical detox and withdrawal management. Medical detox reduces the risk of relapse and gives an individual a good foundation for long-term recovery.
Medications like buprenorphine and naltrexone are often prescribed to wean the individual off opioids gradually. Recovery groups are also available, and therapy is suggested as the primary means of recovery from opioid addiction.
In therapy, individuals address the reasons that led to their opioid misuse. They develop life skills, coping mechanisms, and behavioral habits that support a life in recovery.
Is sufentanil safe to use as prescribed?
Sufentanil is used in medical settings to treat moderate to severe pain. When used as prescribed, sufentanil and Dsuvia are safe to use. However, individuals should always consult with health care and medical professionals before taking any form of opioid.
Is sufentanil as powerful as fentanyl?
Sufentanil is a fentanyl analog and can be up to 5 to 10 times more powerful than fentanyl. Sufentanil and Dsuvia are meant to be used in medical settings for the treatment of moderate to severe pain.
Can you become addicted to sufentanil or Dsuvia?
Yes, sufentanil and Dsuvia are Schedule II drugs, which means that they are highly addictive. Both sufentanil and Dsuvia should be taken under medical supervision and should never be acquired illicitly.
Can sufentanil cause withdrawal symptoms?
Opioids like sufentanil can cause withdrawal symptoms when stopping use. These symptoms are often described as flu-like and include body pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, and headache.
How is sufentanil administered?
Sufentanil can be administered either via injection or as a tablet (Dsuvia).
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Goofballing of Opioid and Methamphetamine: The Science Behind the Deadly Cocktail. (April 2022). Frontiers in Pharmacology.
Evidence of Buprenorphine-Precipitated Withdrawal in Persons Who Use Fentanyl. (November 2021). Journal of Addiction Medicine.
What Is Fentanyl? (November 2021). Alcohol and Drug Foundation.
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