What is the Difference Between Fentanyl and Heroin? - Pinelands Recovery
April 8, 2019

What is the Difference Between Fentanyl and Heroin?

Fentanyl vs Heroin

Fentanyl and heroin are both opioid drugs. They work by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain that receives pain messages, allowing the user to experience relaxation after an injury, surgery or other painful trauma. Both heroin and fentanyl are extremely potent to the point where they can be lethal in just a single dose. While both drugs are extremely dangerous, they both also have their marked differences.

Understanding Heroin

Heroin is a semi-synthetic drug made from the natural substance morphine, which comes from the seed pod of opium poppy plants. It is a Schedule I drug, meaning it has absolutely no medical use and addiction is extremely likely. This also means that all heroin is illegally made, and there is no legal way to purchase it.

Heroin is typically found as a white or brown powder or as a black, sticky substance known as “black tar”. The user can dissolve and inject, smoke or snort heroin to get high. While heroin is not as fast acting as fentanyl, it still has a potential for overdose and could lead to death due to respiratory failure.

According to DrugFreeWorld.org, an estimated 13.5 million people in the world take opioids, and 9.2 million of those people use heroin. In addition, heroin was involved in four of every five drug-related deaths in Europe, according to a 2008 report from the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction. Heroin also accounts for 18% of the admissions for drug and alcohol treatment in the US.

Understanding Fentanyl

Unlike Heroin, Fentanyl is a man-made synthetic substance. It is a Schedule II drug, meaning that it is prescribed for medical use and there are legal ways to obtain it if prescribed. It is most commonly prescribed for major pain after surgery, or other types of severe pain. It was created to mimic naturally occurring opioids, such as morphine, but to be much more potent.

Fentanyl is 30–50 times more potent than heroin, and 50-100 times more potent than morphine. Because of this, Fentanyl is an extremely dangerous and deadly drug and can be lethal with a very small dose. When Fentanyl is prescribed by a doctor, it is given as an adhesive patch, lozenge or is injected. Fentanyl that is manufactured on the street is found as a powder or tablet, and is commonly mixed with other substances.

According to the CDC, more than 28,000 deaths involving synthetic opioids (other than methadone) occurred in the United States in 2017, which is more deaths than from any other type of opioid. Also in 2017, the largest increase in synthetic opioid overdose death rates was in males aged 25-44. In addition, deaths from synthetic opioids significantly increased in 23 states and the District of Columbia from 2016 to 2017. West Virginia, Ohio, and New Hampshire had the highest death rates from synthetic opioids.

Fentanyl and Heroin Addiction

Both Fentanyl and Heroin offer a fast-acting euphoric high, which becomes addictive to many users. Tolerance to Fentanyl and Heroin can both happen very quickly, because extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms set in once the drug wears off. Many find it much easier to simply use the drug again to fight off withdrawal symptoms, rather than experiencing them to detox. This quickly leads to the cycle of addiction.

In order to safely and comfortably detox from opioids, a treatment center is highly recommended. There are medications and treatments available to help ease these withdrawal symptoms, as well as slowly wean the user off of the opioid rather than quitting cold turkey and causing a shock to the system. Since fentanyl and heroin are short-acting opioids, administering long-acting opioids helps to slowly wean the drugs out of the system safely and comfortably.

Effects of Fentanyl and Heroin

Since Fentanyl and Heroin are both opioids that bind to pain receptors, the side effects generally resemble an extremely relaxed state. When they are being abused, the side effects can be extreme. While Fentanyl and Heroin are very different from each other, they both offer the same dangerous, life threatening side effects. These include:

  • Sedation
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushed skin
  • Severe itching
  • Body and limbs feeling “heavy”
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Slowed and labored breathing
  • Respiratory failure
  • Coma
  • Death

About Pinelands Recovery Center

Addiction to fentanyl and heroin are both extremely dangerous and life-threatening diseases. Abuse of these drugs can lead to death in even just one use. If you or someone you love is experiencing addiction to either of these drugs, it is important that you seek help right away. We offer a wealth of treatment options to safely detox from fentanyl and heroin, as well as control cravings and navigate triggers.

Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford is widely known as one of New Jersey’s finest, most respected addiction treatment facilities. With comfortable 30-bed accommodations and a 24-hour professional staff, we can offer clients a serene, relaxing environment amid the lush piney woods. This stress-free setting with its sense of warmth and welcoming enables you to feel comfortable and confident about your clean and sober life ahead.

We will establish clear goals, both general in nature and specific to your needs. We continue to monitor those goals, to make sure that our clients are progressing and buying into their recovery plan. We thrive on assisting clients in feeling connected to the recovery community, share and demonstrate effective coping techniques, help clients to modify attitudes and patterns of behavior and everything else you will need to be happy and productive living a sober, healthy life.

We ensure that clients complete their planned concrete tasks, encourage hope, optimism and healthy living. Our recovery program is not a revolving door treatment program; it is a recovery model designed to help clients go on to lead productive, happy lives. For more information, visit pinelandsrecovery.com

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