Fentanyl is a powerful and potent synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
It is typically used in treating severe pain and chronic pain after other types of pain management treatments have failed.
In a medical setting, fentanyl is often administered by injection, but can also be found in tablet form and as a transdermal patch.
Different types of fentanyl are commonly abused due to the intense euphoria and sense of well-being that accompanies the use of the drug.
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The Manufacturing Of Synthetic Opioids
Synthetic opioids are manufactured in chemical laboratories, similar to those found in pharmaceutical companies when the drugs are produced legally and with regulations.
Fentanyl is man-made, so it does not require any part of the poppy plant in order to be produced. Making it, however, does require specialized skills in chemistry.
How Fentanyl Pills Are Abused
Fentanyl pills can be abused in their original tablet form or they can be crushed and snorted. The powder can also be dissolved into a liquid and injected directly into a vein or muscle.
Fentanyl abuse occurs anytime fentanyl is taken outside of a medical setting or without a prescription.
Recognizing A Fake Fentanyl Pill
Being able to recognize a fake fentanyl pill is not always easy, but it can be life-saving knowledge.
What A Fake Fentanyl Pill Looks Like
It is not always easy to spot a fake fentanyl pill. A couple of things to look for are pills that are cracked or that crumble easily. They may also have spots or discolorations.
If you have access to the packaging you can also look for misprints, misspellings, and unusual fonts.
Using Fentanyl Testing Strips
Fentanyl test strips provide rapid results and are now available in many areas as a way to practice harm reduction.
To use these strips, a small sample of the drug is dissolved in water and then tested, indicating whether or not fentanyl is present in the substance.
Risks Of Counterfeit Pills
When prescription opioids are sold on the street illegally, they are commonly found in the form of counterfeit or fake tablets.
Oftentimes a person has no intention of using fentanyl, and purchases on the street what they think is Percocet, Vicodin, or oxycodone.
Fentanyl poisonings then occur when a person is unknowingly exposed to lethal amounts of fentanyl.
Whether or not someone intends to use fentanyl or a different substance entirely, the presence of illicit fentanyl always presents a risk of a drug overdose.
Overdose is one of the biggest dangers of fentanyl use, because the amount needed to be lethal may be as little as two or three milligrams.
A fentanyl overdose is even more likely when a person mixes fentanyl with other prescription medications or illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine.
Signs Of A Fentanyl Overdose
Being able to recognize the signs of a fentanyl overdose could potentially save your life or the life of one of your loved ones.
Anytime an opioid overdose is suspected, emergency services should be called immediately.
Signs of a fentanyl overdose may include:
- loss of consciousness
- choking or gurgling sounds
- cold or clammy skin
- bluish lips and fingernails
- struggling to breathe
Responding To A Fentanyl Overdose
A fentanyl overdose happens quickly and can be life-threatening, so it is essential to act fast and know what to do in the case of one.
Naloxone (Narcan) Administration
Naloxone is an opioid overdose antidote that comes in two forms, an injectable form and a nasal spray, which is available under the brand name Narcan.
Narcan is available at many pharmacies now and is also typically carried by law enforcement officers.
Calling Emergency Services
The first step when someone is witnessing a fentanyl overdose should always be to call emergency services, even if naloxone is on hand.
Naloxone can help prevent a fatal overdose, but it is only a temporary solution, and medical care is still required beyond what naloxone can do for someone.
Treating Fentanyl Addiction
It is not easy to overcome an addiction to fentanyl, and many people find professional addiction treatment to be very beneficial for avoiding relapse.
Medical detox can help a person through the most uncomfortable parts of withdrawal, all the while providing constant medical supervision in the event of any problems.
Detoxification often uses medications such as methadone and buprenorphine, which are considered opioid replacement therapy medications.
Evidence-based treatments can include medical detox and medication-assisted treatment (MAT), individual and group therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
These types of treatments are typically carried out in either outpatient or inpatient treatment centers, depending on what a person needs and has access to.
Holistic therapies for opioid addiction can include art therapy, music therapy, spiritual therapy, meditation, and yoga.
Additional Treatment Options
Below are some of the other substance use disorder treatment services available at rehab programs.
Other common drug treatments may include:
- mental health services
- support groups for adolescents with prescription drug addiction
- aftercare services
FAQs Regarding Fentanyl Pills
Below are some common questions that people have about fentanyl pills.
What’s A Lethal Dose Of Fentanyl?
A lethal dose of fentanyl is just 3 milligrams (mg) for an average-sized adult male, although people have also overdosed on as little as 2 mg.
What Milligram Dosage Do Fentanyl Pills Come In?
Legal fentanyl pills come in 100 mcg and 200 mcg tablets. Fentanyl pills that are found on the street often contain over 2 mg each, which can be a lethal dose.
How Does Fentanyl Make You Feel?
Taking fentanyl and other opioids can make a person feel very relaxed and euphoric. It can also make them feel very tired and sleepy.
These reactions may be exacerbated depending on the overall health of the person using fentanyl, their tolerance level, and any polysubstance abuse taking place.
Find Substance Use Treatment Today
If you or a loved one is living with fentanyl addiction or engaging in behaviors that put you at risk of a fentanyl overdose, please consider giving our helpline a call.
It is never too early or too late to begin treatment for alcohol and drug abuse, and we can help you locate an addiction rehab center nearby.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- National Library of Medicine: PubMed.gov
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)