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Addictive Opioids: Fentanyl vs. Morphine

Opioids are effective pain relievers that can benefit people recovering from accidents, injuries, and chronic painful conditions. However, opioids are highly addictive when their use is not monitored and regulated. Two common opioids that are often used are fentanyl and morphine. Yet, there are some significant differences between fentanyl vs. morphine.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid created in a laboratory to mimic the effects of morphine and other prescription opioids made from the poppy flower. Since it is man-made, fentanyl is a hundred times more potent than morphine, so only a small dosage is required to relieve pain. 

Fentanyl is often prescribed to treat chronic painful conditions or given to patients undergoing cancer treatment to offset some of the painful side effects. Furthermore, fentanyl can be used as a drug replacement for people who have developed a tolerance to other prescription opioids. 

How Does It Affect the Body?

Fentanyl increases the release of serotonin and dopamine in the brain that creates a calming and euphoric state. Both serotonin and dopamine are considered the “feel good” endorphins that bring us pleasure. 

This increase in these endorphins causes pain receptors to numb and reduce the level of pain one experiences. Some people can feel sedated and could experience dizziness, drowsiness, or confusion. 

How Addictive Is Fentanyl vs Morphine?

Fentanyl is highly addictive due to the effects it has on the body. The increase in the “feel good” endorphins from fentanyl usage is reinforced as a positive and rewarding behavior. When prescribed fentanyl by a healthcare provider, it is easy to develop a dependence on it since it deadens your pain and discomfort.

Once you need fentanyl, you may find it hard to stop even if your doctor is gradually weaning you off it to help you avoid major withdrawal symptoms. In cases where people are taking fentanyl long-term for chronic pain or cancer treatment, they may begin to self-medicate as their body develops a tolerance to the drug.

When fentanyl is abused and not needed for a medical condition, it is easy to get hooked on it after using it just once. The powerful effects of the euphoric state it causes make people want to continue to enjoy these sensations. As you can imagine, once the effects start to wear off, they will start to crave fentanyl even more. 

What Is Morphine?

Morphine is a natural opioid made from the poppy plant or poppy straw – the same plant heroin is made from. Morphine is one of the most used pain relievers in a healthcare setting. It can be used for post-surgery pain, injuries, kidney stones, severe burns, and other types of non-chronic painful conditions. 

Additionally, morphine is often used as a benchmark to gauge the potency of other natural and synthetic opioids in clinical trials and research studies. 

How Does It Affect the Body?

Morphine works similarly to fentanyl by stimulating the release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. As these endorphins are released, they increase pleasurable sensations and create a euphoric-like state. 

How Addictive Is Morphine vs Fentanyl?

Morphine is also highly addictive when it is used for a prolonged period. The more it is used, the more the body builds a tolerance to the effects of the opioid. Eventually, more and more morphine is required to achieve the desired effects. 

The pleasurable feelings one experiences while using morphine are often more intense than they would experience with the normal release of serotonin and dopamine. This unnatural “high” continues to deplete the body’s supply of these two endorphins. 

As the effects of morphine start to wear off, it is common to feel depressed and sad since the body lacks sufficient endorphins. Yet, taking more morphine forces the body to release the endorphins even though there are already low supplies.

Similar to fentanyl, people will crave morphine because of its effects, and how it makes them feel is reinforced as positive behaviors. 

Fentanyl vs. Morphine: A Quick Comparison

How They Are Alike

  • Both fentanyl and morphine are opioid pain relievers that bind to receptors in the brain to stimulate pleasure and alleviate pain. 
  • Both drugs are highly addictive, even when used as prescribed. 
  • Both drugs will cause withdrawal symptoms as the effects of the drugs wear off.
  • When stopping either fentanyl or morphine, it is essential one is weaned off the drug.
  • Abusing fentanyl or morphine when it is not needed increases the risks of addiction. 

How They Differ

  • Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid created in a lab.
  • Morphine is produced from the same poppy plant used to make heroin. 
  • Fentanyl is a hundred times more powerful than morphine.
  • It is easier to accidentally overdose on fentanyl due to its potency.
  • Fentanyl is used for significant and chronic pain and cancer treatment pain relief.
  • Morphine is used for less severe pain, such as following a surgery or a personal injury. 

Fentanyl and Morphine Detox and Rehab in Nashville

When you are struggling with fentanyl or morphine substance abuse and are ready to get help for your dependence and addiction, you can rely on Detox Nashville. We offer personalized treatment options, including medication-assisted treatment, residential rehab, outpatient rehab, and aftercare planning.
For further information about our fentanyl and morphine detox and rehab programs, please feel free to contact us or call us at 615-845-4747 to spark with an intake specialist today!

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