A man looks at a drugs with white shoes and a yellow background

As the Opioid Epidemic death tolls continue to rise, over 47,000 people lost their lives in 2017 to opioid overdoses. This means that over 130 people die each day from opioid overdoses. Of these deaths, approximately 28,400 of them were related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. (1)

But what is fentanyl? Here we compare fentanyl to the archetype painkiller: morphine.

What is Morphine?

Morphine, first discovered in 1803, has been viewed as the prototypical opioid painkiller, morphine vs fentanyl written outwhich the strength of all other painkillers is measured to.

Morphine belongs to the class of drug known as an opiate, which means it was derived naturally from opium.

Morphine is still widely used in medicine today, and is also still highly abused around the world. (2)

Morphine is also the essential ingredient in making heroin. (3)

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is an extremely powerful painkiller that is used in both medicine and illicitly on the streets. Fentanyl belongs to the fully synthetic opioid class, meaning it is not derived from opium poppy.

Fentanyl is used in medicine for anesthesia, and as a prescription painkiller commonly dispensed in the form of long-acting patches. Drug traffickers have in the last decade begun lacing heroin and other street drugs with fentanyl.

This is because fentanyl is cheaper to make and easier to transport due to its extremely high potency. (4)

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Fentanyl vs. Morphine

Despite morphine being a powerful opiate in which all other opioids are measured, fentanyl is much more powerful at much smaller doses. Fentanyl is approximately 50-100 times more potent than morphine.

This means that fentanyl can be lethal at doses as small as a microgram, which is much smaller than morphine. Despite their differences in potency, fentanyl and morphine work quite similarly. (5)

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
  2. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2004/2004-05/2004-05-7874
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin
  4. https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/fentanyl
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4137794/