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Fentanyl and Carfentanil

One time could be the LAST time!

What are fentanyl and carfentanil?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that works like morphine. It may be used to treat severe pain after surgeries and for pain at the end of life in patients with cancer. Carfentanil is another synthetic opioid. It is used as a tranquilizer for very large animals like elephants.

Opioid overdoses are on the rise. Fentanyl and carfentanil may be deadly if they are injected. They are so strong that even touching or inhaling them can be lethal.

Why are we concerned?

Fentanyl and carfentanil are very inexpensive to make. They have been added to illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine and counterfeit opioid pills. They look just like prescription opioid pills and can cause death within seconds. 

How strong is carfentanil?

Carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl.

2 mg dose will knock out an average size elephant ... and is enough to kill about 50 people

How strong is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is 50–100 times more potent than morphine.

Bar graph showing increase deaths from synthetic opioids like Fentanyl and Carfentanil over the course of 2 years.

What can you do?

There are treatments that work to help you stop using opioids. These are called "medication assisted treatments" and include buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone®), methadone and naltrexone. Talk to your VA healthcare provider to get started if you are:

  • Using street drugs

  • Unable to control how much opioid pain medicine you use

Naloxone is a medicine that is sprayed in the nose or injected and can reverse an opioid overdose. It is a life‑saving treatment that you can get from the VA.

Ask your healthcare team for naloxone if you are taking opioids.

  • Always have naloxone with you and know how to use it.

  • Make sure your family and friends know when and how to use it.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 6/1/2018
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