Opioids: Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a prescription opioid used as a pain medication. It is also made illegally and mixed with other drugs like heroin.

Prescription fentanyl

Prescription fentanyl is used to treat severe or chronic pain. A synthetic opioid, it is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. It comes in many forms, including patches and lozenges. 

Illegal fentanyl

Illegal fentanyl is fentanyl produced for nonmedical purposes. It is sold for its heroin-like effects. Illegal fentanyl comes in many forms, including a powder and tablets. It is also mixed with other drugs to increase the high from those drugs. 


Danger: Overdoses and death

Because of its high potency, it takes only a small amount of fentanyl to cause a health emergency. People using fentanyl outside of the care of a doctor are at a high risk of an overdose or death.  


Related information


Last Revised: January 14, 2019