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Heroin and Fentanyl: Why You Should Avoid This Dangerous Mix

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Home Addiction Heroin and Fentanyl: Why You Should Avoid This Dangerous Mix

Both heroin and fentanyl are potent opioids that reduce pain and promote relaxation and pleasure.  In the past decade, these substances have contributed greatly to the rise in overdose deaths globally.  

Because heroin and fentanyl are fast-acting, they can be lethal, especially when combined.  To illustrate, the CDC reports that heroin and fentanyl caused the majority of the 98,268 overdose deaths in 2021.  

Drug dealers are not trustworthy and they want you to come back for more.  So, by lacing heroin with fentanyl, they save money, make the drug more addictive, and ensure a repeat customer.  In the end, you may be the one who pays the ultimate price.

If you use street drugs, you run the risk of ingesting fentanyl-laced heroin without realizing it.  For this reason, it’s important to know the risks associated with combining these substances.

Are Heroin and Fentanyl the Same?

Heroin and fentanyl belong to a class of drugs known as opioids.  Nevertheless, the drug’s potencies are surprisingly different.  For instance, heroin is 100 times more powerful than morphine.  Comparatively, fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin.  Here are a few of the ways they differ:

Heroin: How It’s Used and What It Looks Like

Heroin is a morphine derivative, which is removed from the opium poppy plant.  The DEA classifies heroin as a Schedule I Controlled Substance.  This classification means the drug has no known medical uses and has a high potential for abuse and addiction.  

Drug dealers and cartels distribute heroin as a white or brown powder or a tacky substance known as black tar heroin.  Heroin users will smoke, snort, or inject the drug for its euphoric effects.  

Fentanyl: How It’s Used and What It Looks Like

As a synthetic opioid, fentanyl differs slightly in chemical structure from heroin.  In contrast to heroin, fentanyl does have some medical uses.  However, illicitly manufactured fentanyl can be deadly.  Prescription fentanyl is classified as a Schedule II drug due its accepted medical uses, although it carries a high risk for abuse and addiction.

Because fentanyl is cheaper than heroin, it is used to lace or cut other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, meth, and more.  Fentanyl users will obtain prescription fentanyl patches that can be chewed, sucked, or inserted into the body.  Some people scrape the gel from the patches to inject the substance.  Others crush fentanyl tablets and smoke, snort, or inject them.

Why Do People Mix Heroin and Fentanyl?

Heroin and FentanylCalifornia researchers say people mix heroin and fentanyl for two reasons.  One, because it is cheaper than heroin.  Two, because it is smaller and lighter, so it’s easier to smuggle.  Furthermore, a shortage of heroin and a growing supply of fentanyl coming from China and Mexico contribute to an increase in fentanyl use.

In most cases, fentanyl is added to various drugs by the distributor, not the dealer.  As a result, neither the dealer nor the buyer is aware that a drug contains fentanyl.  On the other hand, some people mix other drugs with fentanyl by choice.  For instance, a person who has a high tolerance for heroin will switch to or add fentanyl because it is cheaper and stronger.

What Are the Risks of Combining Heroin and Fentanyl?

How a person reacts to fentanyl-laced heroin depends on their tolerance and on the type of fentanyl analog used.  However, some of the most common effects and risks of using heroin together with fentanyl include:

  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Sedation
  • Breathing problems
  • Unconsciousness
  • Overdose
  • Death

Signs of a heroin and fentanyl overdose may include the following:

  • Clammy skin
  • Small pupils
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Blue-tinged lips and nails
  • Shallow breathing
  • Coma

Given that fentanyl and heroin are opioids, an overdose can be reversed with naloxone (Narcan).  However, when fentanyl is present, more than one dose of naloxone may be needed.

Heroin and Fentanyl Recovery Is Possible With Help From Design for Change Recovery

Stopping heroin and fentanyl abuse won’t be easy.  But, if you are ready to make this positive change, Design for Change Recovery will help.  Our program provides treatment for any type of addiction, including multi-drug addictions.  

Most importantly, we help you gain the confidence and motivation to maintain sobriety for the long term.  We understand the complex nature of addiction and realize what your path to recovery entails.  Our compassionate, skilled staff members will support and encourage you throughout your time in our program.  

We provide an extensive, full continuum of care that promotes mental, physical, and spiritual healing.  The components of our evidence-based  programs include, but are not limited to:

Contact us today to speak with a treatment advisor and to learn more about our programs.  You can reach our Lancaster, CA facility by phone, email, or online for a confidential assessment.  

Sources:– The Drug Overdose Epidemic: Behind the Numbers – Drug Overdoses – Injury Facts – Fentanyl

Heroin and Fentanyl: Why You Should Avoid This Dangerous Mix