- Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic (lab-made) opioid that is FDA-approved to treat severe pain related to surgery or complex pain conditions.1,2 Over the past decade, fentanyl that is made and distributed illegally (sometimes called “illicitly manufactured fentanyl”) and other illegally made synthetic opioids have been increasingly found in the drug supply.3,4 During this time, fentanyl and related substances have contributed to a dramatic rise in drug overdose deaths in the United States.5,6
- People both knowingly consume fentanyl and other synthetic opioids and unknowingly consume them when they are mixed into or sold as other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, or counterfeit pills.4,7,8 Because fentanyl is about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine9,10,11 and a lethal dose of fentanyl can be very small, using a drug that has been contaminated with or replaced by fentanyl can greatly increase one’s risk of overdose.6,7
- As part of a wide-ranging federal response to the ongoing addiction and overdose public health crisis, NIDA conducts and supports research to better understand, prevent, and respond to individual and public health impacts related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. These efforts include research to develop effective prevention, treatment, and harm reduction strategies for people and communities affected by these potent substances.
Latest from NIDA
Buprenorphine initiation in the ER found safe and effective for individuals with OUD who use fentanyl
NIH launches harm reduction research network to prevent overdose fatalities
Law enforcement seizures of pills containing fentanyl increased dramatically between 2018-2021
The Overdose Crisis: Interagency Proposal to Combat Illicit Fentanyl-Related Substances
Find More Resources on Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids
- Learn more about fentanyl, overdose, and public health from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Learn more about fentanyl from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
- Read patient health information on prescription fentanyl from MedlinePlus.