Pedestrians on a city street.
©Getty Images/georgeclerk
  • 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

Find More Resources on Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids