What Is Fentanyl?

What is Fentanyl? The following quote is from Drug Enforcement and Administration’s website, “Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Pharmaceutical Fentanyl was developed for pain management treatment of cancer patients, applied in a patch on the skin. Because of its powerful opioid properties, Fentanyl is also diverted for abuse. Fentanyl is added to heroin to increase its potency, or be disguised as highly potent heroin. Many users believe that they are purchasing heroin and actually don’t know that they are purchasing Fentanyl – which often results in overdose deaths. Clandestinely-produced fentanyl is primarily manufactured in Mexico.”  



In Pima County, we see a lot of the non-pharmaceutical, illicit Fentanyl pills. These pills are disguised as blue oxycodone pills. These pills are marketed to appear as pharmaceutical grade 30mg oxycodone tablets, however they are actually non-pharmaceutical Fentanyl mixed with many other dangerous substances. One of the main dangers with the illicit Fentanyl on the streets is the lack of quality control. This means when someone buys and uses one of these illicit pills, they have no clue how much Fentanyl is in each pill. One pill could have 5x the amount another could have 50x the amount. To understand this concept better, imagine eating a chocolate chip cookie. The chocolate chips are not evenly mixed throughout the cookie. One bite could have many chocolate chips, one bite could have none. There is no standardization. The same concept applies to the illicit Fentanyl pills. In our clinical experience, we hear from clients that one day they used many pills to get high, and then another day they used half a pill and had an overdose. Unfortunately, this is very common and a big reason why the overdose death rates are at the highest they have ever been.  

Fentanyl Treatment

Fortunately, there is help for Fentanyl addiction. Here at ETANO Center, we provide medication assisted treatment to help people recover from opioid addiction. We use FDA approved medications to help with withdrawal symptoms and cravings. The medication eliminates cravings and urges to use opioids. Lastly, once at a stable dose, the medication provides a blocking effect, meaning that if someone tries to use an opioid on top of the medication, they will not feel it. It is important to note that this is extremely dangerous and can lead to an overdose by mixing illicit drugs and medications together. The medications are tools to help stabilize someone physically, they are not the only part of treatment. Counseling is a critical part of treatment and the recovery process. Counseling helps clients remain stable and prevent relapsing. We utilize a variety of evidence-based therapies including Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Contingency Management, Relapse Prevention, Peer Support, etc. Contact us today if you are in need of opioid addiction treatment! Visit here for more information on Medication Assisted Treatment and how it treats opioid addiction.