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What is Fentanyl?

A woman worries about her addiction to the dangerous and potent drug fentanyl.

Fentanyl is currently known as the most dangerous drug in the United States because of its prevalence and its link to so many overdose deaths. This highly addictive drug has quickly worked its way into the headlines as one of the leading roles in the opioid epidemic.

All drugs are dangerous and can lead to serious consequences, so why is fentanyl considered to be so much worse?

The main reason is because fentanyl is up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. As a result of this, the difference between a dose that will get someone high and the dose that will kill them is very small when dealing with fentanyl.

How Does it Work?

Fentanyl works by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain, boosting levels of the chemical dopamine, which leads to feelings of reward, pleasure, euphoria and relaxation. The scary thing about fentanyl is it does this much faster and in much smaller doses than other opioids do.

When fentanyl is used legally for medical purposes as it was intended, it is often given in a shot, a lozenge or a patch on the skin.

Where Does Fentanyl Come From?

While fentanyl is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a painkiller, it is also being manufactured in illegal drug labs. Most of these illicit labs are in China, and then the drug is trafficked through Mexican cartels. It can even be purchased on the dark web.

Fentanyl is easier and less expensive to make than heroin, which makes it popular with drug labs and dealers. Because of this easy availability, it is often laced into heroin or even substituted for it completely.

It can also be found in counterfeit pills labeled as Xanax or Vicodin, leading to overdoses by people who may not even be aware they’re taking fentanyl.

What Does it Look Like?

Fentanyl comes in a powder or liquid form and is often white. But when sold illicitly, it can also be off-white, tan or even brown.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell if fentanyl is in a drug you are taking because you cannot taste it, see it or smell it. Even the dealers may not know they are selling drugs that contain it.

Some of the street names used by drug dealers who are selling fentanyl include:

– Apache
– China Girl
– China Town
– China White
– Murder 8
– Jackpot
– Poison
– Tango & Cash

Signs of Use

If you are currently addicted to fentanyl or are concerned a loved one is abusing fentanyl, you may notice these dangerous signs of use:

  • Slow heart and breathing
  • Weakness and trouble walking
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Shaking
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itching and scratching
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleep problems
  • Swollen arms and legs

Overdose Symptoms

Any of these symptoms could be signs that you or your loved one is overdosing and needs emergency help right away:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Body weakness and limp extremities
  • Sleepiness due to a lack of oxygenation
  • Hypoventilation (slow breathing)
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Lethargy
  • Blue lips or fingertips
  • Unconsciousness or coma

Addiction Help is Available at Footprints Beachside Recovery

Over 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. However, overcoming an addiction to this highly potent drug is possible with the right treatment. At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we will restore your addiction-free life through our individualized opioid treatment program. Our holistic approach returns the brain to normal function and allows you to get your life back. Contact us today to get started on your journey to sobriety.


Fentanyl: What You Should Know. (Accessed Sept. 15, 2018).

Call Footprints Beachside Recovery at 877-954-3908 today.

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