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.


Synthetic opioid drugs called ‘nitazenes’ have been detected in the European and UK drug supply. There are many types of nitazenes including metonitazene, N-pyrrolidino-etonitazene (NPE), etonitazepyne, etonitazene, isotonitazene and protonitazene. Most often they may be sold as or found in other drugs.