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Fentanyl vs Morphine

After high school, you couldn’t seem to find your path in life. Working random jobs, you finally settled as a dishwasher in an up-and-coming restaurant. The chef saw potential in you, and took you under his wing as a prep cook. This was great; you were definitely getting tired of washing dishes.

Alcohol Shakes

As you continued to bond with the chef, you found he was always going outside after the dinner rush. When he would come back in, he would be really relaxed, euphoric even. When you ask him about it, he tells you he just takes a quick shot to calm the dinner rush stresses. You assume he means a shot of liquor, but then he shows you two little glass vials in his pocket. His mom was on a bunch of pain medications while she was fighting cancer, but when she passed no one came to take the medications. He said he prefers the fentanyl, but the morphine works just fine too. You wonder, what is the difference in the first place? Aren’t all pain medications the same?

In 2021, 35 per 100,000 Hillsborough County residents died from an opioid overdose. Tampa Bay specifically experienced an overdose rate of 23.3 per 100,000 which was 9.75% higher than the state of Florida as a whole. Clean Recovery Centers understands the concerns of the communities when it comes to fatal overdoses. We have multiple locations along the Gulf Coast to provide ease of access to those looking for treatment. Our blogs give insight into different topics surrounding addiction and provide education to family and friends who are concerned for a loved one. Today, let’s take a look at two common opioids: fentanyl vs. morphine.

Fentanyl: What Is It?

Typically, when we think of fentanyl, we think of illicit fentanyl. This type is not regulated by any government administration and is not a prescribed version of fentanyl. Street fentanyl comes in a powder or liquid form and is commonly mixed into other substances, such as heroin or cocaine. Many do not know that they have ingested illicit fentanyl as it is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.

Medicinal fentanyl is regulated and must come from a prescribing physician. There are many different brand names and it can come in the form of lozenges, patches, nasal sprays, tablets, and liquid for injection. Because fentanyl is considered a powerful pain medication, prescriptions are monitored by both doctors and pharmacists to help prevent dependence.

Who Uses Fentanyl and Why?

Illicit fentanyl has no medical purpose, and is only used for its euphoric effects. Dealers often add fentanyl to substances to increase their effects. This keeps the person coming back for more as they enjoy the feelings it produces.

Medicinal fentanyl is used to treat severe, chronic pain, typically in those living with cancer. In some cases, fentanyl is used to help anesthesia work better. Those who have undergone major surgery may also see fentanyl on their treatment list.

Morphine: What Is It?

Morphine is an opioid made from the opium poppy plant and has been a commonly used pain medication for over 200 years. Morphine is also regulated and must be prescribed by a doctor. Though not as common as illicit fentanyl, morphine has been seen in recreational use and can cause dependence.

Who Uses Morphine and Why?

Morphine is used to treat pain following major surgeries and injuries. In some cases, morphine is also used to manage certain heart conditions. It can induce euphoric effects, which is the main reason for illicit use. However, morphine is most commonly seen in medical settings.

Similarities Between Fentanyl and Morphine

Because both are opioids, fentanyl and morphine share many similarities. Both substances are derived from the poppy plant and both carry the risk of dependence. This is why fentanyl and morphine are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, when the person is using fentanyl or morphine without a prescription, they carry a higher risk of dependence. When either substance is not present in the body, symptoms of withdrawal will begin. These symptoms can be uncomfortable and even life-threatening. The most common withdrawal symptoms of fentanyl and morphine include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Constipation

Mental health can take a toll from withdrawal, no matter if you are using fentanyl or morphine. If thoughts of suicide, self-harm, or harming others occur, seek medical attention immediately.

Differences Between Fentanyl and Morphine

comparing fentanyl and morphine effectsAlthough similar substances, there are many differences between fentanyl and morphine. Fentanyl is a completely synthetic opioid, meaning all traces of the poppy plant are removed in the process of making it. Morphine is a naturally occurring opioid, and still holds many of the poppy plant’s properties. This is what creates the potency difference between the two substances.

Fentanyl also enters the brain differently than morphine. Morphine takes longer than fentanyl to cross the blood-brain barrier, making morphine a slow in slow out opioid. Fentanyl is considered a fast in fast out opioid as it crosses the blood-brain barrier quickly. In other words, fentanyl is fast-acting but wears off faster than morphine.

Is Fentanyl Stronger Than Morphine?

When referring to the strength of substances, the common phrase to describe it is potency. Because fentanyl is fully synthetic and contains no plant properties, it is more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, and it does not matter if the fentanyl is medicinal or illicit. Despite the potency differences, both medications have been found effective in reducing severe pain.

Fentanyl vs Morphine Overdose: What to Do

When it comes to morphine and fentanyl overdoses, you most likely won’t see them in a medical setting. As we talked about above, doctors and pharmacists manage the dose and amount of refills each person will have of the medication. The most common fentanyl and morphine overdoses come from illicit or recreational use. When an overdose occurs, the central nervous system slows to a halt. Vital systems such as breathing and temperature control begin to fail. When the body is not taking in oxygen, organs and tissues begin to lose function. If breathing is not restored, permanent damage can occur.

If you or someone you love is experiencing an overdose, stay calm. Call for help immediately and get the person to a quiet space. Try to keep them awake and upright. If available, administer Narcan to counteract the opioid’s effects. When help arrives, be truthful with what substances were taken so they can treat the person properly.

One of the biggest differences and dangers between morphine and fentanyl is that fentanyl is far more likely to cause an accidental overdose. Fentanyl is cheap and widely available to dealers, and adding it to other substances without the buyer’s knowledge helps them sell more products and keep the person coming back for more. Another trend around the United States is pressing fentanyl powder into counterfeit pills. The person has no idea it contains fentanyl and can experience an accidental overdose.

Fentanyl and Opioid Addiction Treatment in Tampa, FL

Whether you are living with fentanyl or morphine dependence, there is hope for a brighter tomorrow. Opioids can latch on to the brain before you realize it, and open havoc on your physical and mental well-being. The good news is there are programs that offer both fentanyl addiction treatment and morphine addiction treatment. Through guided therapy, wellness training, and skill-building classes, you will find the root causes of your addiction and what coping strategies will work best for you. It’s never too late to begin, and finding a program that fulfills your needs and goals is crucial to your success in recovery.

If you or someone you love is managing an opioid use disorder — no matter if it’s fentanyl, morphine, or something else – help is available right now. Clean Recovery Centers has been serving the Suncoast for years, and we have helped hundreds to get clean, live clean, and stay clean. Our unique three-phase approach to treatment addresses all facets of addiction: spiritual, mental, social, and physical. Take the first step to a better future, free from opioids, today. Call us at (888) 330-2532 to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

  • https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/library/hillsborough/media-center/documents/health-care/hcs-opioid-summit/07—moore—opioid-summit-4-27-23.pdf

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