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Should I start Fentanyl patch?
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Should I start Fentanyl patch?

I'm a 31 year old stage 4 breast cancer patient, currently in chemotherapy. I've had severe postoperative pain from the mastectomy I had almost three years ago which my doctor has been treating with a steadily escalating series of opiate drugs: vicodin, then norco, then oxycodone... now she wants me to start the Fentanyl patch, and I'm a little scared of it. It seems so serious (like something you only take if you're... y'know... close to death! Which I'm not!), and it scares me that so many people seem to become so addicted to it, and I'm scared that I'll be too tired to be responsible, raise my three year old son, etc... My doctor answered all the questions I asked of course but I have to admit I didn't press too hard because I didn't want her to think I was afraid of becoming an addict... I mean, I still need help with this ****amn pain in my (ex) breast...  it just seems like once I start this patch, there's no going back!
Does anybody have any positive experience with the Fentanyl patch? Did anybody use it for pain and then... get off of it one day? Did it keep you from normal day-to-day responsibilities?
I'm just a little nervous.
Thanks.
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14 Comments Post a Comment
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1399336_tn?1280648496
absolutly DO NOT TAKE FENTYNAL PATCHES! i am 36 years old and i had breast cancer to they gave me fentynal. i regret ever taking it it has ruined my life!
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Avatar_f_tn
Jessie:
What happened, if you don't mind my asking? Did you become addicted to the fentanyl? Would something else have been better for the postop chronic pain? I hope your cancer is in remission, by the way--- this all *****.
I'm scared of pain, scared of my cancer, scared of being too involved with pain meds to be a good mom... I'm scared of a lot these days...!
-Emily
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Avatar_f_tn
DO NOT TAKE! This drug is really only meant for the terminally ill! Its the most horrible pain medicine to come off of. I was not addicted to it and had no idea I was going on the strongest pain medicine in the world. It is 100x stronger than morphine and 50 x stronger than herion. It causes all kinds of side effects. I had a friend on it for 3 weeks and she wanted to die when she was tapering off of it. This drug is hell and is not worth it. Stay away! You will thank me! I had to learn the HARD way!
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Avatar_f_tn
Wow...so sorry to hear all this.  I am tapering off Oxycodones and even though it has been tough, I am sticking to my schedule and doing well.  I would definetly do all the research you can on your own before taking anything like this for pain.  Just like jessie and shellbell said, these drugs can and will ruin your life.  I don't think Doctors really understand how easily a person can go from taking these meds as prescribed to getting way out of control with them.  
A few years ago, a friend of my brothers was given Fentanyl patches for his back after a botched surgery.  At the time, he was only 32...Within a few months, he was taken off them and started into withdrawal....and within a couple days after that, he was in Intensive Care at the Hospital....yep...he almost died from w/d.  They had to put him back on it and tried to taper him off them slowly....but he ended up getting so sick and desperate, he started seeking out street drugs.  He lost his job, his wife left and took the kids, he lost his home and vehicle...everything.  This only took less than a year because of his need for the drugs....and he ultimately committed suicide.....it was a tough loss for everyone.  
It is devastating what these types of medicines can do.  I have read so many stories that reflect how I was about the medicines.  I was "dumb" about them and never really did any real research on how they work or what they do....once I did discover this, I knew I had to get off them...but fear kept me from trying.  It wasn't until a few months ago that I really started talking to my Doctor about wanting to get off them and now I am really glad I did....I hope we caught it before it had a chance to get totally out of control...but I will say it was becomming a real problem.  I hope you are able to find something for your pain....nothing worse than hurting all the time.  God Bless
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962875_tn?1314213636
Hi,

I'm sorry to hear you are having such a pain problem.

My concern about the fentanyl patches is that the side effects can continue to increase even though the pain relief effect has begun to diminish.  This can lead to oversedation or in some cases even death, esp. if the patient then takes additional analgesics to try to obtain adequate pain relief...

My suggestion would be for you to enroll in a pain clinc, if you have not already done so, so that your pain  can be closely monitored and managed by a doctor who is a specialist in this area of medicine.

Besr wishes...
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492898_tn?1222247198
i also would not start with them. I once used fentanyl patchen when I was in so much pain from a condition called osteonecrosis where my femur was dying, and it was so painful that 8-10 oxycodone did not do the trick.

the fentanyl was perfect, and after starting it I was able to walk again normally and a few weeks later the condition healed/resolved itself. (of course you will never know unless you are not on the drug so instead of changing the patch every three days I kept it on for 4 to wait for the pain to come back and then one day it no longer did)

It was horrible coming off it, and when I told the oncologist's nurse she told me that was ridiculous and she has never heard of anyone having withdrawels from it, even people who took much higher doses) I guess they all died and therefore had to not deal with withdrawal. Anyway, I took hydrocodone to do so.

Yes, it is incredible for pain but I did no like the effect it has on me spirit wise; I felt depressed on it.

I have since heard that drugs like oxycodone and vicodin are much more abused than fentanyl for just that reason.
I don't think it's a 'feel good' drug but incredibly powerful otherwise.

No, I would not either. Kat
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi,

I suggest you go to a pain management group.  There are lots of options.  My wife was stage 4 and tried all options.  She wasn't able to handle any pain medicine except for darvicet.  My rub down and long car rides were her main source of relief.  Please see an expert on pain management.  No drug is bad if it keep you from having pain.

All my best.

Kemal
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82861_tn?1333457511
Wow.  I'm sorry to see all the misinformation on this thread about the fentanyl patch.  Yes, it's a very strong pain medication, but that's why it is dosed in MICROgrams instead of MILLIgrams.  That is a huge difference.  It is no more or less "addicting" than any other narcotic pain medication.  

It doesn't matter if you use the fentanyl patch, hydrocodone, oxycodone or morphine.  If you take any of these drugs on a regular basis your body will become physically dependent upon it.  If you do not taper off slowly, you will experience withdrawal symptoms.  The presence of withdrawal does not mean the patient is an addict.  Addiction is a totally different problem involving abuse and overuse of a particular substance.  

The fentanyl patch comes in many doses from 12.5 mcg (micrograms) per hour to 25, 50, 75 and 100 mcg.  The 25 mcg/ hour patch is equal to about 8 norco tablets a day, yet most people don't think twice about swallowing that much hydrocodone.  The fentanyl patch is prescribed for many kinds of chronic pain, not just for those who have a terminal condition.  

Please don't live your life in pain if you don't have to.  Fentanyl, like any other opiate pain medication, is just a tool to help with pain.  Yes, it can be misused and abused, but so can any other opiate.  If you work with your doctor and taper off when you no longer need it, you won't have to worry about withdrawal.  Unless you have an underlying medical condition like a cardio-pulmonary problem, withdrawal won't kill you.  The biggest danger is from dehydration in people who suddenly discontinue opiate therapy and can't cope with the vomiting and/or diarrhea.
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492898_tn?1222247198
Jaybay says:

        'Wow.  I'm sorry to see all the misinformation on this thread about the fentanyl patch.'  

Jaybay, you cannot call an opinionn coming from personal experience 'sorry misinformation'. your comment makes me pretty sure that you have never used a fentanyl patch?

Not 100 inserts, or books, or doctor's and/or nurse's advice  on fentanyl comes even close to the value of reporting from 'personal experience', and I am impressed that pretty much all of us who have used fentanyl, or had a friend whose experience they are familiar with, has stringly advised against the drug, unless nothing else controls the pain.

and fentanyl is not nearly as abused as other narcotics, so it's not 'the same' as all the others, because it is not a 'feel good' drug.

Katrin
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962875_tn?1314213636
As I mentioned in my post above, fentanyl patches pose serious risks. And it does not have to be misused or abused to be dangerous! There are problems inherent in this delivery system for the medication.

At least two patients in our practice died while using them, as did one of my neighbors. The mother of another pt. suffered life-threatening respriatory depression, but was saved because her family got her to the hospital just in time.  

Here is a quote from an article about this problem, and a link to that article:

"Since the Duragesic patch was first introduced by Johnson & Johnson in 1994, there have been a number of reported problems with fentanyl pain patches due to manufacturing issues. At least seven different recalls of fentanyl patch systems have been issued by Johnson & Johnson and companies manufacturing generic versions of the patch, raising questions about whether the powerful painkiller can be safely made.

Hundreds of fentanyl pain patch overdose deaths have been associated with different versions of the patch, and dozens of fentanyl patch wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against the various manufacturers."

http://www.aboutlawsuits.com/actavis-fentanyl-patch-recall-13686/

If you don't respect this article (because it's from a law Web site, just search the terms "fentanyl patch recalls"  and "fentanyl patch side effects"  and you will find many, many other references.

bluebutterfly
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492898_tn?1222247198
Thank you, bb, for this very objective post, and which complements the other posts derived  from personal experience of people who have used the patch, and which is what eliandbasilsmom asked for.

Both, providing objective information, preferably with a link attached,  and personal experience are what makes a forum like this so valuable to those who want to 'know' something 'real'
.
eliandbasilsmom asks:

    'Does anybody have any positive experience with the Fentanyl patch? Did anybody use it for pain and then... get off of it one day? Did it keep you from normal day-to-day responsibilities?
I'm just a little nervous. '

Katrin
Thanks.
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Avatar_f_tn
I have been on the fentanyl patch for a year now - I have not had one problem with it!  My pain is caused from Stage 4 BC with mets to the bones and lungs.  I am still using the patch -  175 mcg's every 3 days plus oxycodone - 6 to 8 a day plus doing the chemo (chemo for 3 years).  I have not had any side effects and am pleased with how the patch is working!!
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1524811_tn?1333244901
I have been on varying doses over the Fentanyl patch for 3+ years & am currently trying to slowly taper down. I've tried this a few times before & EVERY time the withdrawals are so severe that I end up hospitalized & once even on life support. This time has been absolute hell & I STRONGLY urge that NO ONE uses this DRUG !!! I was not told by my dr when it was prescribed how bad it was & I couldn't find any information online. Within a week of starting it I could feel the difference & everyone around me could see differences in me. I HAVE NEVER ABUSED THE DRUG, take it EXACTLY as prescribed & still have a dependence to them. I'd LOVE to come off them, but at this time am pregnant & to try & come off now is pretty much a death sentence for both of us. I have been pregnant before on this horrible drug & did carry to term. She went through 2 weeks in the NICU with withdrawals which were the HARDEST 2 weeks of my life. She is a happy & healthy above average 2 yr old who loves everything. I pray every night that this child I am carrying is healthy & pray that he'll do ok. I'm withdrawaling pretty bad right now due to a miscalculation by my dr so right now I can SAFELY tell you that NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO YOU WILL BECOME ACCUSTOM TO THESE HORRID PATCHES & WILL GO THROUGH WITHDRAWALS. I don't want to see anyone suffer this if I can prevent it so PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM THEM !!!!!!!!!!
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962875_tn?1314213636
I am so sorry to hear what you and your daughter have gone through, and what you are now going through with your current pregnacy!

Thank you for sharing your experience, which may be taken into consideration by others
trying to decide about using this treatment.

I hope your son will be as happy and healthy as your daughter.

Best wishes...
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