Is Fentanyl an Opioid?

Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

May 4, 2023

Table of Contents

You may have heard of Fentanyl recently as it has been the culprit of many overdoses and death in the recent decade.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. This means that Fentanyl is man-made.

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It is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Currently, there are two types of Fentanyl: pharmaceutical and illicitly manufactured. Both of these types are considered synthetic.  

Fentanyl is an opioid used for pain management. It works by changing the way the brain responds to pain. Fentanyl is FDA-approved as a controlled substance and is labeled as high-risk for addiction. 

Opioid drugs like Fentanyl inhibit the production of natural endorphins and can cause the brain to be overloaded with reward circuit signals, leading to euphoria.

With continued use, the brain adapts to the presence of opioids, and therefore this can lead to an inability to feel reward or pleasure without the use of opioids. 

Opioid overdose deaths can be caused if not monitored properly or taken outside of medical supervision.

While Fentanyl can alleviate pain for many, it does pose an ominous threat, as it is highly addictive, and can cause opioid overdose. Illicit Fentanyl is being continuously put into other drugs causing many deaths.

a man looks out a window to represent the question: is fentanyl an opioid?

What is Fentanyl Used For Medically?

While Fentanyl has been linked to many overdoses and deaths, it is also used medically.  Prescription Fentanyl is used for pain management. However, Fentanyl is not the first line of defense in pain management and is typically used only to treat severe pain.  

This severe pain may be surrounding an operation, cancer pain, or other long-term pain. At a certain point, sometimes in treatment, regular painkillers may not work anymore, and therefore something stronger is needed and a doctor may prescribe Fentanyl.  

At the end of life, nobody ever wants to see a loved one struggle. Like other potentially dangerous drugs, Fentanyl also has its purpose in this scenario.

Synthetic Opioids Dangers

Synthetic Fentanyl is largely responsible for these deaths and overdoses. It is tasteless, odorless, and therefore is easily put into other drugs, cocaine, heroin, and more. It is not regulated and therefore often times the actual dose of the product is unknown. 

Unfortunately, the opioid epidemic in our country today is quite serious and therefore addicts are looking to all and any outlets to use.

As Fentanyl use becomes more prevalent, there will, unfortunately, be more accidental deaths.

an image of a woman needing pain medication to represent the question: is fentanyl an opioid?

Illicitly Manufactured Fentanyl

Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is a huge cause of deaths in the United States. Studies conducted by the CDC show that rates of overdose deaths involving a powerful synthetic opioid like fentanyl increased +56% from 2019 to 2020.

Because it’s synthesized in a lab, illicitly manufactured fentanyl can be up to 50x stronger than heroin and 100x stronger than morphine. This staggering level of intoxication can easily cause the body to shut down, and often without immediate medical intervention can quickly result in death.

Fentanyl Test Strips

Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is also commonly used to lace other counterfeit pills and drugs, so many people ingest it without even realizing it. Fentanyl test strips are easy to order online and can be the difference in preventing fentanyl related overdose and deaths.

Can You Get Addicted to Prescription Fentanyl?

The short answer here is yes, you can absolutely become addicted to pharmaceutical Fentanyl.  Patients prescribed Fentanyl are given lozenges, patches, or shots. While being treated by a doctor is a safer way to take Fentanyl and manage your pain, you still remain at high risk for addiction.

If Fentanyl is not used the way it’s prescribed, the consequences can be deadly. 

Fentanyl and Opioid Drug Tolerance

One of the largest problems with pain medication and prescription opioids is that the patient easily builds tolerance. As time goes on, pain often worsens and more and more medication can be needed. Eventually, all roads can end up leading to Fentanyl as it is the strongest pain relief medication available. 

It’s important to be aware of any opioid withdrawal symptoms that the individual may be experiencing so that they can get help as soon as possible to prevent adverse effects. In these cases, it’s possible to mitigate overdose deaths by getting medical treatment which can reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Dangers of Fentanyl

It is important that you and our doctor monitor your dose of prescription opioids like Fentanyl. The dosage of painkillers needed to alleviate symptoms can increase quickly and this can pose an ominous threat to one’s well-being if not monitored properly. With the correct oversight, serious complications like Fentanyl overdose can be prevented.

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Get Treatment for Fentanyl & Other Opioids Addiction at Renaissance Recovery 

Opioid addiction can be one of the most lethal addictions. Different from alcohol, opioid use can quickly to death, as synthetic Fentanyl is highly dangerous. One bad batch of an opioid can immediately end someone’s life via Fentanyl overdose, which speaks volumes about the danger of the drug. 

At Renaissance Recovery, we know that your or your loved one’s life may depend on getting sober. From detox to inpatient and aftercare, we have the resources to help you or your loved one begin their new drug-free life. 

Start Fentanyl Recovery Today

Recovery from Fentanyl is multifaceted. As we know, opioids affect one’s endorphins. Therefore, recovery can be slow as the body needs time to heal and recalibrate. Those recovering from an opioid addiction often need the kind of specialized treatment that we offer to relearn and rewire their brains to feel pleasure from natural sources. Healing begins here at Renaissance Recovery.

Reach out to us at 866.330.9449 today and let us help get you started on your journey!

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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