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Why is Fentanyl Deadlier Than Heroin?

The facts are that both Fentanyl and Heroin are incredibly potent opioids. Both drugs carry high abuse potentials. Heroin is used to get high, and Fentanyl is a prescription pain killer created illegally to be sold as a drug on the street. Both drugs lead to physical dependency and addictions. Both legal and illegal Fentanyl are similarly potent, and each version can cause death with one dose. Heroin is also deadly with one use. Fentanyl is prescribed in hospitals and clinical settings to relieve post-surgical pain and is also a preferred medication for chronic pain and to treat terminal cancer. Heroin is only used illegally to get high.

Fentanyl is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine as a combination product—with or without the user’s knowledge—to increase its euphoric effects. (CDC)

Chemical Facts About Heroin and Fentanyl

Chemically, these two opioids have many similarities and differences. The main difference is that Fentanyl is stronger than Heroin. The reason it is is that it is a synthetic drug. It is not made from the earth. Heroin is formed from morphine made out of opium poppy seed plants grown out of the ground. The chemical makeup of the synthetic drug Fentanyl means it enters the brain much faster than the natural drug heroin. Fentanyl and heroin both provide a fast-acting euphoric high, which causes addiction. In both cases, tolerance to Fentanyl and Heroin develops within a few weeks and causes extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Description of Fentanyl and Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

The withdrawal symptoms from either Fentanyl or heroin are overwhelming. Most addicts will not tolerate them and need to use opioids as soon as possible. People remain on Fentanyl and Heroin for many years wishing they could get free of the addiction, but the withdrawal symptoms are simply too intense. After several years of addiction, many find that they hate the drug because of the physical addiction. Fentanyl and heroin detox symptoms are very similar and include:

  • Flu-like symptoms (runny nose, sneezing, cough)
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Muscle cramps and body aches
  • Fever chills, sweating
  • Severe insomnia
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Dehydration
  • High blood pressure and heart palpitations
  • Restlessness
  • Intense cravings

The withdrawal symptoms from Fentanyl are sometimes worse than Heroin withdrawals, but the research on this is vague. 

Why is Fentanyl Deadlier Than Heroin?

The United States Department of Justice states why Fentanyl is more deadly than Heroin. They also list the numbers of drugs that police and the drug enforcement agency are finding Fentanyl inside of currently on the streets.

Fentanyl, an opioid that is practically and effectively 50 and 100 times more potent than heroin or prescription opioids, is often used to adulterate heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other “street drugs.” Overdose deaths often result from a user’s unwitting purchase and use of Fentanyl when believing they are purchasing heroin or prescription pills. Fentanyl derivatives such as carfentanil, which is used to anesthetize elephants, is also being used to degrade Heroin, causing cluster overdose deaths. (DOJ)

Help For Opioid Addiction to Heroin and Fentanyl is Here

Treatment for Heroin and Fentanyl addiction includes medication-assisted treatments and behavioral therapies that are proven to help people end their addiction to opioids like Heroin and Fentanyl. In addition, all of our patients enter medically supervised detox right away. They are then supported emotionally and physically to get through the detox phase before their personalized treatment program. Each patient’s treatment plan is tailored to their specific needs. Medications for opioid addiction to heroin, Fentanyl, or prescription pain killers will include Buprenorphine and methadone.

Evoke Wellness at Cohasset Provides Detox, Therapy, and Treatment In One Center

Evoke Wellness in Massachusetts offers same-day admission to our medically supervised detox, followed by cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, trauma-focused therapy, and other evidence-based treatment methods for heroin and Fentanyl addiction. Call now for immediate entry to medical detox and get free of this deadly addiction for good. Call, chat or email for instant relief and help get and stay clean.