How is Fentanyl Made?

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Fentanyl is made out of an organic compound called Piperidine. In laboratories, this chemical is manipulated to form fentanyl. Fentanyl acts as an Opioid. This past year alone, opioids were responsible for over 75,000 deaths in America. Synthetic opioids have been the biggest driver in the increase of overdose deaths, with fentanyl being the most fatal of them all. The relatively low price of illegal fentanyl and its strong potency has led to its rapid spread and misuse. As the opioid crisis has continued to grow, the addiction community and government have attempted to prevent the crisis. Educating the public on fentanyl use can be an effective preventative measure for accidental overdoses.

Join Avenues Recovery, top provider of inpatient drug detox and rehab, as we explore the source of fentanyl, its widespread abuse, and the havoc it wreaks. 

How is Fentanyl Made Available Legally?

Fentanyl is produced legally in the U.S. by pharmaceutical companies and distributed through medical professionals. Fentanyl is highly potent and can be fatal when used without a prescription and medical oversight. The potency of fentanyl is approximately 100 times more than morphine and 50 times that of heroin.

There are two sources of fentanyl on the streets; pharmaceutical fentanyl, and illicitly produced fentanyl. Legal fentanyl can be obtained through fraudulent prescriptions, theft, and illicit distribution. However, it is more common for users to use illicitly produced fentanyl from Mexico and China. Most fentanyl overdoses have been linked to illicitly manufactured fentanyl.

When Was Fentanyl Developed?

Fentanyl was first discovered by Janssen Pharmaceutica, a pharmaceutical company, in 1959. Their intention was for the drug to be used as an anesthetic in hospital settings. Doctors soon discovered the powerful pain-killing abilities of the drug, and it began to be used as a painkiller. Fentanyl has since been prescribed for patients who are resistant to other opioids.

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Names for Pharmaceutical Fentanyl

Pharmaceutical fentanyl is available in various forms with different brand names, such as: 

  • Intravenous injections - Sublimaze
  • Fentanyl patches - Duragesic
  • Fentanyl lozenges - Actiq
  • Fentanyl films - Onsolis
  • Fentanyl buccal (cheek) tablets - Fentora
  • Fentanyl sublingual (under the tongue) tablets - Abstral
  • Fentanyl sublingual sprays - Susys
  • Fentanyl nasal sprays - Lazanda

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How is Fentanyl Made: The How, What and Where

Read on to discover the details and process of how fentanyl is manufactured, what the ingredients for fentanyl are and where it is made.

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What Is Fentanyl Made From?

What is fentanyl derived from? As mentioned above, one of the main fentanyl ingredients is an organic compound called Piperidine. In laboratories, the chemical is manipulated to form fentanyl. 

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What is in Fentanyl That Causes its Reaction in the Body? 

While fentanyl is not a natural opioid, the fentanyl chemical structure means its reaction in the body mimics an opioid. When it enters the body, fentanyl will attach to the same pain receptors as opioids and block them. This creates an increase in pleasure sensations in the body, or the “euphoric” effect.

How is Fentanyl made? Avenues Recovery discusses the details.

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Illicitly Manufactured Fentanyl

Illicit fentanyl is available in different forms, including liquids and powders. This fentanyl is produced in labs outside the U.S. and is trafficked illegally, often through the southern border. Professionals know how to make fentanyl invisible. Powdered fentanyl appears the same as many other drugs, so when these drugs are laced with fentanyl it is indistinguishable. 

Is Fentanyl a Liquid?

Fentanyl can come in liquid forms. Liquid fentanyl is sold on the market as nasal sprays, eye drops, and dropped into paper or small candies in its liquid form. However, it is often transformed into a pill form for distribution. 

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Where is Fentanyl Made?

Creating fentanyl is challenging and risky, and most of the illicit fentanyl in America is produced in other countries. According to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), Mexico remains the primary source of illegal fentanyl. A large amount of fentanyl entering Mexico is created in labs in China and then trafficked through Mexico. The fentanyl enters through international mail and trafficking routes along the Southern border. How is fentanyl made so widely available? The majority of those who abuse fentanyl use illicitly produced fentanyl.

How Is Fentanyl Transformed in Labs Across the USA?

Once fentanyl enters the US, it is often transformed in labs before being distributed on the market. The labs transform fentanyl powder into pills and liquid forms. Many of these labs are located in California.

How Is Fentanyl Prepared for Public Consumption?

In the labs, known as pill plants, fentanyl powder is transformed into a pill or liquid form before entering the black market. Pill plants will often use a stamp or signature to resemble other drugs. This can lead to a high risk of overdose for unsuspecting consumers.

What is Fentanyl Cut With?

Cut fentanyl, also known as laced weed, is the most common way that fentanyl is ingested unknowingly, as the fentanyl is hard to detect. Pill plants take advantage of knowing how to cut fentanyl into other drugs.  This is done to increase the potency of other drugs and decrease the costs of production. However, this practice is extremely hazardous and has caused accidental overdose in many unsuspecting consumers. 

Street Names for Fentanyl

Fentanyl is known on the streets by other names such as.

  • Apace
  • China Girl
  • China Town
  • China White
  • Dance Fever
  • Goodfellas
  • Great Bear
  • He-Man
  • Poison
  • Tango and Cash

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Fentanyl Prevention

The U.S. government has addressed the fentanyl crisis through its legislature, enforced laws, and funding to prevent fentanyl use. The hope is that with proper measurements the flow and use of fentanyl in the U.S. will be considerably decreased.

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How is Fentanyl Made into a Thing of the Past?

Fentanyl in all its forms is addictive and often leads to fatal overdose. There is a way back, there is the possibility of healing and  living a life without the constant need for fentanyl. If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction, call Avenues Recovery. 30K+ people have won the addiction battle at Avenues. We are waiting to help you find your way home.

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Fentanyl (
Fentanyl: The dangers of this potent “man-made” opioid - Harvard Health
How Fentanyl Is Made (
Fentanyl: MedlinePlus Drug Information

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