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fentanyl and carfentanil
August 28, 2020

Carfentanil vs. Fentanyl: What’s the Difference?

America’s opioid epidemic is a well-documented health problem that accounts for thousands of accidental overdose deaths each year. From coast to coast, two of the world’s most dangerous synthetic opioids, carfentanil and fentanyl, have been responsible for a large share of these deaths. What are these drugs, and how can you spot the warning signs of an opioid addiction?  

What Are Fentanyl and Carfentanil?

Fentanyl and carfentanil are both human-made opioids. The chief difference between them lies in the potency of these two drugs.

  • Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.
  • Carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine.  

Traditionally, fentanyl is a pain reliever, while carfentanil is a tranquilizer for elephants and other large animals. These opioids not only have a high risk of addiction, but they are also hazardous, even in tiny quantities. An amount of carfentanil the size of a poppy seed can kill a human, and brief exposure to it can result in breathing troubles and heart failure.

What Makes These Opioids Uniquely Risky?

Because fentanyl and carfentanil are synthetic, they are usually cheaper and easier to obtain than plant-derived opioids like morphine and heroin. Carfentanil and fentanyl bind more fully to opioid receptors in the brain than most other opiates, which is why they’re so powerful and so potentially deadly. Drug distributors lace batches of their substances with fentanyl and carfentanil, often without users’ knowledge, to get people addicted more quickly and keep them coming back for larger doses.

Legislators largely ignored early warnings about fentanyl and carfentanil. Many drug rehabs have been slow to respond, too, treating clients with traditional drug detox instead of the evidence-based medications that are often necessary to help addicted people taper off these types of drugs. As we now know, the cumulative result has been tragic.

Do Your Part to Slow the Opioid Epidemic

Extensive awareness of the dangers of these drugs is a first step in curbing the opioid crisis, especially when the laws governing their use still lag so far behind current needs. Spread the word in your community about carfentanil and fentanyl, including the CDC’s slogan, “It only takes a little to lose a lot.”

It’s also prudent to be vigilant about opioid use. If your doctor suggests prescribing you an opioid medication, ask about alternative ways to manage pain without addictive drugs. If you must take them, plan to limit your use, and stop taking the medication as soon as you feel better – even if you still have a few doses left. You may also wish to obtain a supply of naloxone, a drug that can help reverse an opioid overdose, and make sure everyone in your household knows where it is and how to administer it in an emergency.

How to Recognize Opioid Misuse

Both fentanyl and carfentanil take effect rapidly. In many cases, it only takes a few uses to become dependent on these synthetic opioids, which is why it’s essential to be able to identify the signs of opioid abuse in yourself or others.

  • Drug cravings
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Lack of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Nervousness and irritability
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Drowsiness or confusion
  • Constipation
  • Changes in mood or appetite
  • Inability to maintain responsibilities, such as work or school
  • Financial problems
  • Willingness to lie or steal to get more drugs

Overcoming an Opioid Addiction

Despite everything we’ve learned about the risks of fentanyl and carfentanil, the swift progression from opioid use to dependence to addiction makes it an uphill battle. If you or someone you care about is seeking help to overcome an opioid addiction, compassionate care is closer than you might think. It all starts by contacting us at Beach House. We’ve designed our inpatient drug rehab programs to provide evidence-based treatment within an environment of clinical excellence.

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