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Fentanyl Vs Oxycodone: Understanding the Differences

The opioid crisis in the United States has raised significant worries about using and abusing prescription pain medications. Two widely prescribed opioids, Fentanyl and Oxycodone, have been at the forefront of this issue. Fentanyl is now the top cause of overdoses in America. While both are meant to manage pain in medical settings, they both can cause opioid use disorder.

Understanding Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is exceptionally potent. It is estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and roughly 50 times more potent than Oxycodone. This potency makes it an effective pain management option for severe pain, such as intense pain felt by cancer patients or those undergoing major surgery.

Fentanyl works by binding to the body's opioid receptors, reducing the perception of pain and increasing pain tolerance. This can also create intense euphoria, known as the "high."

Fentanyl that is sold on the street can vary in potency. It is often more potent than its medical counterpart and sometimes contains dangerous additives such as xylazine.

It is available in various forms, including patches, lozenges, and injectable solutions. Most people who misuse Fentanyl use the street form, which comes in a powder or tablet. It can be much stronger than the fentanyl people get at hospitals, which is one reason that overdoses are common.

Understanding Oxycodone

Oxycodone, on the other hand, is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from the opium poppy. It is less potent than Fentanyl but still more potent than medications like codeine or hydrocodone.

Oxycodone is commonly prescribed for moderate to severe pain and is often found in combination with acetaminophen (Percocet) or ibuprofen (Percodan).

Oxycodone's effects are similar to Fentanyl in that it binds to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. This is how it provides pain relief. The duration and high are less intense than Fentanyl, yet it still has a high addictive potential.

Understanding Opioid Use Disorder

One of the critical factors in assessing the addiction potential of opioids is their potency and how they affect the brain's reward system. Fentanyl's high potency makes it more addictive than Oxycodone. However, both drugs are addictive when misused.

Many people who have opioid use disorder started out using legally prescribed drugs and then turned to illicit means.

The rapid onset of action when Fentanyl is used illicitly, such as through snorting or injecting, can lead to an intense and immediate euphoric high. This quick onset and powerful high make it more likely for individuals to misuse the drug or develop an addiction.

Oxycodone, while still addictive, is comparatively less potent and has a slower onset of action. This does not diminish its addictive potential.

People prescribed Oxycodone for legitimate medical purposes can still develop dependence and addiction, especially if they misuse it. Many people with opioid use disorder will seek a more intense high and eventually move to fentanyl, which is highly available and cheap on the streets.

Can Prescription Guidelines Help?

To mitigate the risks associated with Fentanyl and Oxycodone, healthcare providers must follow strict guidelines for prescribing these medications.

New guidelines for opioid prescribing emphasize that people taking opioids should also be educated about the dangers, potential side effects, and the importance of adhering to their prescribed dosages. Close monitoring and open communication between healthcare providers and patients can help identify signs of misuse.

Many people who use these drugs buy them on the street. This means there is no way to accurately monitor how much of the drug they take.

Harm Reduction and Opioids

To help prevent overdoses, Narcan, the opioid-reversal drug used to stop overdoses, is now available over the counter. Doctors recommend that anyone who takes opioids keep it on hand in case of accidental overdose.

Harm reduction can help people who are addicted to fentanyl have a fighting chance to stay alive and get sober.

Getting Help for Addiction

If you or somebody you love is struggling with substance use, we're here to help. We offer a peaceful environment to begin the journey to reclaim your life. Learn more about our programs and amenities by calling us at (949) 279-1376 or, in, at Mexico: (612) 153-5726.



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Hi! I’m Melissa Stailey, a freelance writer that loves to cook. I live and work in Washington, DC.