Is Fentanyl Really That Dangerous?

MastHead Outline
September 13, 2020

To put it simply — yes, fentanyl really is that dangerous. This powerful synthetic opioid has changed the landscape of the opioid crisis in the United States. We’ll explore what makes fentanyl addiction so dangerous below.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl was developed as an analgesic. When used appropriately in a hospital setting, it can bring powerful relief to patients suffering from the effects of cancer or chronic pain.

Like other opioids, fentanyl binds to the body’s opioid receptors that manage pain and emotions. Most people seek out fentanyl because of its ability to attach to the brain’s reward center. This induces a state of intense relaxation and euphoria, alleviating debilitating pain caused by significant injury or illness.

However, it does more than produce this high. Like all opioids, fentanyl also binds to receptors that control important bodily functions such as breathing. While most users seek out fentanyl’s potent yet fleeting high, they are unaware of how devastating its effects can be on their physical and psychological health.

What Makes Fentanyl So Dangerous?

While fentanyl is similar to other opioids such as heroin and morphine, its unique characteristics make it highly addictive and incredibly dangerous.

Fentanyl Is Highly Potent

Opioids are often compared to morphine in terms of potency. While heroin is five times stronger than morphine, fentanyl is 80 to 100 times stronger. Most users are unaware of this dramatic difference, which contributes to its overdose potential.

Fentanyl Attaches to Receptors Quickly and With Force

Fentanyl has a unique chemical makeup. It arrives at opioid receptors much faster than other opioids such as heroin, and it also binds more tightly. This means that just a tiny dose of fentanyl has the same lethal potential as a much larger dose of heroin. The speed and effect of fentanyl are so forceful that a user may not be able to receive help in time if they overdose.

Fentanyl Has a High Potential for Misuse Even When Prescribed

Even when a doctor prescribes fentanyl, it has a high likelihood of dependency, misuse and addiction. After repeatedly using fentanyl, patients can build a tolerance to the drug. This means they need higher doses to achieve the same effect. Fentanyl can also rewire the brain’s reward center so that a patient continually seeks the drug, making it more difficult to stop. Even when taking fentanyl as prescribed, patients can still develop dependence and end up needing addiction treatment.

Fentanyl Is Cheaper

While fentanyl is stronger than heroin, strangely enough, it is much cheaper. Many people overdose because they do not expect the degree of potency they receive at the cost they paid.

Fentanyl Can Have Serious and Harmful Side Effects

One of fentanyl’s most dangerous side effects is that it targets opioid receptors that regulate vital body functions. This means the drug can have many serious and potentially lethal side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slowed breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma

Recovery From Fentanyl Addiction at AppleGate Recovery

If you find yourself in the grips of fentanyl addiction, help is available at AppleGate Recovery. Our treatment centers specialize in medication-assisted treatment combined with highly effective counseling. By addressing both the physical and emotional aspects of addiction, we help patients find hope and healing. Learn how you can get started today.