What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. It is a prescription drug that is also made and used illegally. Like morphine, it is a medicine that is typically used to treat patients with severe pain, especially after surgery. It is also sometimes used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids. Tolerance occurs when you need a higher and/or more frequent amount of a drug to get the desired effects.

In its prescription form, fentanyl is known by such names as Actiq®, Duragesic®, and Sublimaze®. Street names for illegally used fentanyl include Apache, China Girl, China White, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfellas, Jackpot, Murder 8, and Tango & Cash.

Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States. In 2017, 59. percent of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl compared to 14.3 percent in 2010.

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Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

What is heroin?

Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the various opium poppy plants grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia. Heroin can be a white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. Other common names for heroin include big Hhorsehell dust, and smack.

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Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Naloxone

What is naloxone?

Naloxone is a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose. It is an opioid antagonist. This means that it attaches to opioid receptors and reverses and blocks the effects of other opioids. Naloxone can quickly restore normal breathing to a person if their breathing has slowed or stopped because of an opioid overdose. But, naloxone has no effect on someone who does not have opioids in their system, and it is not a treatment for opioid use disorder. Examples of opioids include heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, and morphine.

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Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Prescription Opioids

What are prescription opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Some prescription opioids are made from the plant directly, and others are made by scientists in labs using the same chemical structure. Opioids are often used as medicines because they contain chemicals that relax the body and can relieve pain. Prescription opioids are used mostly to treat moderate to severe pain, though some opioids can be used to treat coughing and diarrhea. Opioids can also make people feel very relaxed and “high” – which is why they are sometimes used for non-medical reasons. This can be dangerous because opioids can be highly addictive, and overdoses and death are common. Heroin is one of the world’s most dangerous opioids, and is never used as a medicine in the United States.

Popular slang terms for opioids include Oxy, Percs, and Vikes.

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Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.