Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), it is 80-100 times more powerful than morphine. Like morphine, it is meant to treat severe pain, such as that from after surgery. However, it is often used illegally.
Fentanyl is sometimes added to heroin to increase its potency, or passed off as particularly potent heroin. It is also sometimes combined with drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. Dealers add fentanyl because it takes a lot less of it to produce a high.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “This is especially risky when people taking drugs don’t realize they might contain fentanyl as a cheap but dangerous additive. They might be taking stronger opioids than their bodies are used to and can be more likely to overdose.”
In 2017, nearly 60% of overdose deaths involved fentanyl. In recent years, this number has been increasing. In 2010, it was only 14.3%. This is why in the last several years, you may have heard more about this drug.
Like other opioids, fentanyl can cause drowsiness, sedation, confusion, and difficulty breathing. Narcan (Naloxone) can help reverse opioid overdoses. However, because fentanyl is stronger than other opioids, it may take more doses of Narcan to reverse the overdose than if fentanyl is not present. When delivering Narcan to anyone who may be overdosing, it is important to also call 911.
If you are struggling with an opioid use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. Amatus Recovery Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country.
We offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help gradually and more comfortably free you from substances. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you process the underlying reasons you used and build coping skills for lasting recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.