The prescription opioid fentanyl is between 50-100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is one of the most potent opioids that is commonly abused.
Because of fentanyl’s potency, people who take this drug are at an increased risk of deadly overdose and may experience severe side effects and withdrawals.
What Does Fentanyl Do?
Fentanyl binds to mu-opioid receptors in the brain, which facilitates dopamine release, pain relief, emotional regulation, and other functions.
Like other opioids that are abused, fentanyl slows down the central nervous system and can create feelings of intense euphoria.
Other effects of fentanyl use include:
- extreme happiness
- problems breathing
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Fentanyl Addiction And Dependence
A person can become both physically dependent on and emotionally addicted to fentanyl.
Addiction can cause drug cravings and a preoccupation with getting the substance, while dependence leads to withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not present.
Some common withdrawals symptoms associated with fentanyl dependence include:
- fever symptoms
- muscle and bone pain
- cold flashes
- uncontrollable leg movements
Overdose Risk With Fentanyl Abuse
Because of fentanyl’s potency, it is very dangerous to take without a doctor’s supervision. A fentanyl overdose can result in permanent brain damage and death.
If recognized early enough, a potentially deadly overdose can be reversed by proper administration of naloxone (Narcan).
Some signs of an opioid overdose include:
- blue fingernails/lips
- cold, clammy skin
- gurgling noises
- trouble breathing
- changes in pupil size
Fentanyl is commonly prescribed as a transdermal patch or in tablet form. Some prescription names include:
Everyday Street Names For Fentanyl
Fentanyl can be illegally sold as a prescription medication or synthesized in illegal labs. People frequently take fentanyl by smoking, injecting, snorting, or swallowing pills.
- Dance Fever
- Murder 8
- Tango & Cash
Other Potent Opioids
Carfentanil is 10,000 times as potent as morphine. It is typically used in veterinary applications as a veterinary sedative and pain medication.
Ingesting carfentanil in even the smallest quantity can lead to overdose and death.
Getting Help For Fentanyl Abuse
If you or a loved one abuses strong opioids like fentanyl, recovery is possible. Call our helpline to learn about the best treatment options for your needs. Don’t wait — we’re here to help.
Published on June 9, 2021
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.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse – Fentanyl Drug Facts
- United States Drug Enforcement Agency – Fentanyl