What is Sublimaze Compared To Fentanyl? A Complete Guide
- Sublimaze is an injectable form of fentanyl that is only approved for use as anesthesia in surgical procedures.
- Fentanyl comes in other forms, such as patches, lozenges, and sprays whereas Sublimaze is only an injectable.
- Both drugs cary a significant risk of dependence and addiction and should not be used outside the prescribed hospital setting.
- Both fentanyl and Sublimaze overdose can be deadly and is characterized by depressed breathing, confusion, blue lips, and dilated pupils.
While prescription pain medication can help individuals suffering from moderate to severe pain achieve a better quality of life, the opioid epidemic has claimed thousands of lives over the past few decades.
One of the most commonly abused opioid medications on the market is fentanyl. If you or someone you know is taking this drug either with or without a prescription, it is crucial to understand what this drug is, how it works, its addiction potential, and how to recognize the signs of abuse and overdose.
Is Sublimaze the Same Thing as Fentanyl?
Not exactly. Sublimaze is a form of fentanyl that has different brand names according to their modes of administration. Regardless of the formulation or brand name, all forms of fentanyl carry a risk of serious side effects, misuse, abuse, and addiction.
What is Sublimaze?
Sublimaze is an injectable form of the prescription medication fentanyl, which is an extremely potent opioid pain medication. Fentanyl is a synthetic drug that works by binding to the body’s opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord and is designed to reduce pain sensations and produce feelings of relaxation. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine.
Fentanyl is typically administered to help patients manage severe pain associated with surgery, cancer treatments, or other invasive and painful medical procedures. Sublimaze, the injectable form of fentanyl, is used as anesthesia for surgical procedures.
All forms of fentanyl, including Sublimaze, carry a significant risk of addiction, overdose, and other serious side effects.
How Does Sublimaze Work?
Fentanyl binds to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, reducing the sensation of pain. Opioid receptors are present throughout the central nervous system (CNS) and play a key role in regulating pain, pleasure, and other sensations.
When fentanyl binds to these receptors, it activates them and increases the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which helps produce feelings of relaxation and euphoria.
What is Sublimaze Used For?
Sublimaze is only used as anesthesia during a variety of surgical procedures. Unlike other forms of fentanyl, it has no other approved medical applications outside of this use.
What is Fentanyl Used For?
Fentanyl is prescribed for many conditions, most of which are chronic and involve severe pain or discomfort. This medication is used for:
Fentanyl is sometimes used in the treatment of severe pain. Use cases include undergoing surgery or cancer treatment.
In some cases, Fentanyl may be prescribed to help manage chronic pain, although this is becoming less common due to its high potency and risk of addiction.
How is Sublimaze Administered?
Intramuscular injection: Sublimaze can only be administered intravenously and intramuscularly. There are no transdermal patches, lozenges or tablets, or intranasal spray forms of sublimaze. The only generalized drug name for this mode of administration is fentanyl.
It is important that Sublimaze is only taken as directed, as misusing or abusing this medication can be fatal.
Sublimaze Side Effects
Apart from the desired effects during surgery, Sublimaze may also come with some negative side effects:
- Chest discomfort or pain
- Difficulty or irregular breathing
- Lips, fingernails, and skin develop a blue tinge
- Muscle stiffness
- Changes to heartbeat
Fentanyl Side Effects
The side effects of fentanyl can range from mild to severe. These side effects include (but are not limited to) the following:
|Common Side Effects||Less Common Side Effects||Rare But Potentially Life-Threatening Side Effects|
It is important to discuss any side effects you are experiencing with your doctor. If you or someone you know is showing signs of any life-threatening side effects of this medication, seek immediate medical attention.
Fentanyl vs Other Opioid Medications [Chart]
Sublimaze is part of a drug class called opioids. While opioids act in very similar ways, there are key differences. We’ve outlined some of the differences between fentanyl and other opioids below:
|Onset of Effects||Rapid||Rapid||Rapid||Moderate|
|Duration of Effects||Short||Moderate||Moderate||Moderate|
|Used for||Severe pain||Various pain||Various pain||Moderate Pain|
|Addiction potential||Very High||Moderate-high||Moderate-high||Moderate|
Substance Abuse Potential
Fentanyl in any form is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and addiction. Even when taken as prescribed, it is possible to develop a dependence or addiction.
However, because of the intense pain-relieving and reward system effects, this medication is often misused, which increases the risk of addiction and overdose significantly.
How is Sublimaze Abused?
Taking this medication in any way outside of its intended use for surgery can dangerously depress the central nervous system and result in respiratory depression, coma, and death. Due to its potency in injectable form, the margin of error for Sublimaze is small, making it easy to overdose and a particularly dangerous form of fentanyl to abuse.
How is Fentanyl Abused?
Common ways fentanyl is abused is when taken in combination with other drugs to intensify its effects. Individuals who abuse fentanyl typically do so to induce feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and pain relief. Overdose with any form of fentanyl is possible, all of which can lead to respiratory depression and death.
Signs of a Fentanyl Addiction
Fentanyl in any form has a high abuse potential addiction if not used as prescribed or when taken outside its medically safe and approved setting.
- Strong cravings for fentanyl even when not in pain or when it is not prescribed.
- Needing higher doses of fentanyl to achieve the same effect as before
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if the medication is suddenly stopped if the dosage is reduced.
- Continuing to use fentanyl even when it causes negative consequences such as social, financial, interpersonal, job, or legal problems.
- Using fentanyl in ways other than prescribed, such as crushing and snorting, injecting, or using it more frequently than recommended.
- Neglecting important responsibilities such as work or family obligations due to fentanyl use.
If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of fentanyl addiction, it is important to seek professional help and treatment from a healthcare provider or addiction specialist as soon as possible. A fentanyl addiction rarely gets better on its own. Contact us today to begin your healing journey.
Signs of a Fentanyl or Sublimaze Overdose
Overdosing on many types of substances can be deadly, but when dealing with any form of fentanyl, this is even more likely due to its high potency. Signs of a fentanyl overdose may include:
- Extreme drowsiness or confusion
- Slowed or shallow breathing
- Cold, clammy skin
- Blue or purple lips and nails
- Pinpoint pupils
- Loss of consciousness
- Slow or weak pulse
A fentanyl overdose can lead to respiratory failure and death. Emergency medical intervention is critical. If you or someone you love is misusing fentanyl, it is a good idea to know how to administer naloxone while you wait for emergency services to arrive, as this emergency intervention can be life-saving.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sublimaze and Fentanyl
As a drug rehab center, we are commonly asked questions about Sublimaze and fentanyl. We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions here.
Yes, Sublimaze does cause respiratory depression, which is beneficial in the surgical setting but deadly in any other.
Drugs made from fentanyl are marketed under several brand names including Sublimaze, Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora, and Abstral. Each brand is a specific formulation of fentanyl, such as transdermal patches, lozenges, and sublingual tablets.
Fentanyl is also commonly referred to by a number of street names. These may vary depending on local culture.
Anyone who is using fentanyl, no matter the brand or formulation, whether prescribed or obtained illicitly, should be closely monitored by a healthcare professional and should be aware of the dangers, risks, and signs and symptoms of overdose.
. Drug Enforcement Agency. (n.d.) Fentanyl. Retrieved April 8, 2023, from https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/fentanyl
 Food and drug administration. (n.d.). Fentanyl Citrate Injection, for intravenous or intramuscular use. Retrieved April 8, 2023 https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/016619s038lbl.pdf
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023, September 1). Fentanyl (injection route) side effects. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 8, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/fentanyl-injection-route/side-effects/drg-20075614?p=1
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, October 25). 5 Things to know about Naloxone. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 8, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/featured-topics/naloxone.html