These two substances, despite the similarity of their names, are very distinct substances. Though they share a decent number of similarities, they have very different medical applications, and need to be applied in different scenarios based on a variety of factors.
Additionally, the illicit use of carfentanil vs fentanyl highlight a few more differences between the two. Carfentanil is a much more potent substance of fentanyl. This distinction is important in the medical field, as well as illicit use.
First – What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl belongs to the opioid family of drugs, which is a branch of painkillers that suppress the brain’s release of noradrenaline. Put simply, these substances cause the brain to produce less “wakefulness” neurotransmitters, and the body relaxes as a result.
While this process can be invaluable for killing pain in medical patients and in wounded individuals, the effect is also highly addictive, and opioid addictions are quick to form.
To get a strong perspective of just how powerful carfentanil is, first take a look at where fentanyl falls on the potency scale of opioids. If morphine is a “1” on the scale of potency, then fentanyl falls at around the “100” mark.
For a patient to receive the same pain-killing effect that fentanyl produces in a single dose, they would need to have 100 doses of that size of morphine. The strength of this substance is tough to put into proper perspective, but hopefully this produces some idea of how strong the substance is.
The strength difference factor here lies in the manufacturing process. For example, manufacturers of morphine use extracted opium from the poppy plant to create the substance. Since its origin is from organic matter, the strength of the substance is not as strong.
Though the process includes careful extraction of the opium and compounding of the material, it is still effectively a “side-product”. Fentanyl, on the other hand, is synthetically produced through chemical means.
Factories producing fentanyl are producing it for the express goal of making a pain-killing chemical. Due to this, morphine simply cannot compare in terms of potency.
While fentanyl is an exceptionally powerful substance, it does see medical use. It is sold under the brand names Duragesic, Actiq, and Sublimaze.
Carfentanil vs Fentanyl – All The Same Thing?
Though the very name “carfentanil” seems to include the name “fentanyl” in it, the similarities are significant. Before exploring how the two are different, though, there are a couple similarities.
First, both substances are opioids. Generally, all opioids have the same sequence of effects in the brain and body. The chemical makeup of the substance causes different opioids to have more powerful or less powerful effects.
Studies on opioids have determined that there are small differences in how the brain responds to opioid types, but the general end effect is typically the same each time. Second, both substances are synthetic. While artificial substances are often more potent, this means they are also more addictive.
The strength of effect that the substance has can be crucial for medical applications in patients suffering from severe pain. However, this also means that individuals who abuse the substance may be more likely to experience an overdose.
Since the dose size required for an overdose becomes smaller as the substance becomes more powerful, an individual suffering from an addiction may make a mistake, and take a larger dose than they intend to.
As the potency of the opioids becomes stronger and stronger, as little as a few micrograms could mean the difference between a typical dose and an overdose.
The big difference between carfentanil and fentanyl is that of drug strength. Going back to the scale where morphine sits at “1”, carfentanil would be 100 times stronger than fentanyl. This means that it would sit around the “10,000” mark. Carfentanil’s massive potency when compared to morphine makes the perspective incredibly difficult to convey.
Carfentanil has no medical application in humans, but sometimes is used as a tranquilizer for herd animals or elephants.
As one might expect, the risk involved when using carfentanil vs fentanyl rises exponentially, especially in illicit circumstances. These two substances are so powerful that individuals rarely consciously abuse them. Rather, drug distributors may mix either opioid with heroin or another substance, in order to produce a drug that seems exceptionally strong.
This opens up a whole new can of worms, however, since mixing substances can go wrong in so many ways. Additionally, the risk of overdose even with such a small dose of fentanyl or carfentanil means that mixing them into heroin or another substance can be deadly.
Opioid addiction can be severely dangerous. Any kind of dependence to an opioid can worsen over time, and developing a tolerance means that more and more of the substance is needed. Additionally, withdrawal symptoms can make it extremely difficult to stop permanently.
If you think you or a loved one is suffering from a substance use disorder, contact us today. Or, if you would like to read more about substance abuse risks or get some more information, read our blog.