Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic (lab-made) opioid. It has been used as an analgesic (pain-killing) medicine since the 1960s.

Recently fentanyl use has emerged in non-medicinal drug markets, either sold as fentanyl or more commonly found as an adulterant (unexpected ingredient) in other drugs. In many countries, fentanyl has been detected as products mis-sold as heroin, benzodiazepines (such as diazepam and etizolam), cocaine and gabapentinoids.

It is active in lower doses than heroin so a much smaller dose is needed to feel the effects. Anyone who takes drugs should be aware of the risks of adulterants, test the drugs, start with a test dose and use fentanyl test strips.


Heroin is an opiate drug which is made from opium poppies. It is also known as diacetylmorphine and diamorphine.


Naloxone is a life-saving medicine that temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. It has no psychoactive effects.