A Comparison of Heroin and Fentanyl

Basics of Heroin and Fentanyl

Heroin are Fentanyl are both opioids which bind to opioid receptors, and thereby reduce pain and illicit pleasure and relaxation.  They are both incredibly fast-acting and potent, and can be lethal in one dose.


Heroin is derived from morphine, which is a substance which is removed from the seeds of the opium poppy.  Heroin is then turned into a white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance which is called “black tar” Heroin.  Heroin is classified as an illegal drug within the US, and is a Schedule 1 controlled substance, meaning that it has no accepted medicinal uses.  Heroin is typically snorted, smoked or injected.


Fentanyl, on the other hand, is a synthetic opioid which is similar to morphine.  It is, however, 50-100 times more potent.  The structure of Fentanyl is a little different to that of Heroin.  Fentanyl was first synthesized as a potent analgesic and is still sometimes used in a medical setting to treat severe pain following a surgery.  It is also used in chronic pain for people who have a high tolerance to opioids. 

Unlike Heroin, Fentanyl has some accepted medical uses, and so is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency.  These drugs still have high potential for abuse and addiction.

Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin and is lethal in even doses as small as 0.25 milligrams.  Prescription Fentanyl comes in lozenges, sublingual tablets, oral and nasal sprays and in the form of a transdermal patch.  When it is abused, Fentanyl patches are sometimes sucked or inserted into the body, or opened up, with the gel scraped off and injected into the body.  Tablets can be ingested, injected or snorted.

Overdose potential

Overdoses from Heroin and Fentanyl have been rising, and this trend has only gotten worse since the start of the covid-10 pandemic.  Deaths from synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl almost doubled from 2013 to 2014, and fatalities from Heroin quadrupled from 2002 to 2013.

Opioid users might not even realize that a drug which they are taking contains Fentanyl, as it is sometimes passed off as Heroin.  Fentanyl is much more potent than Heroin and can lead to overdose in much lower doses.

Overdose from Heroin or Fentanyl can be life-threatening, but overdoses from both of these substances can be reversed with the administration of Narcan.  As Fentanyl is much more powerful than Heroin, it might take a few doses of Narcan to reverse the effects of the drug.

Both of these drugs can cause long-term damage to cardiovascular and respiratory systems, as well as cause brain damage and cognitive defects.  Injection of these drugs increases the chance of contracting a disease such as hepatitis, track marks and scarring and abscesses.

Detox from Heroin and Fentanyl

Heroin detox and Fentanyl detox are both undertakings that should not be taken lightly.  The withdrawal symptoms caused by both drugs mean that those who attempt to detox at home are unfortunately usually unsuccessful.

It is for this reason that, should you decide that you want to do a Heroin detox or Fentanyl detox, you should attend a treatment center that has professionals who can assists you in the detox process.

While conducting a Heroin detox or Fentanyl detox is not as dangerous as an alcohol detox or benzodiazepine detox, which frequently cause seizures which result in death, opioid detoxes are not without chances of complications, particularly if the person doing the detox has been taking large amounts of the drugs, has been taking them for a long time, or has been administering the drugs intravenously.

If you attend a treatment facility, you will be provided with Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT), which will mean that your detox experience will be far more comfortable than it would have been if you did not have access to MAT.  While some people who are intent on doing a detox to either of these opioids might believe that they have access to MAT which will ensure I successful detox, the reality of home detoxes is that frequently users of opioids become addicted to the MAT themselves, and then have to go through a detox to these drugs somewhere further down the line.

If you or a loved one needs to get help for your addiction problems, you should check out a treatment that has experience in treating addiction to opioids, and has the staff that can support you in the start of your recovery journey.