Recovery Center Blog

The Dangers of Synthetic Opioids

Written By Recovery Centers - December 2nd, 2022
The Dangers of Synthetic Opioids

Around 10% of American adults have had a drug abuse disorder at some point in their lives. Drug abuse disorders can take many forms, with people being addicted to various substances and suffering from various symptoms or complications.

Of those currently battling substance use, about three million are addicted to opioids specifically. Now, there’s a new drug epidemic that could affect this at-risk group, specifically – synthetic opioids. Continue reading to learn what synthetic opioids are and how to tell if you or someone you love has become addicted to them.

What Are Synthetic Opioids?

Natural opioids include drugs like morphine and codeine, which work in the brain to provide various effects, with the most sought-after one being pain relief. A doctor can prescribe many opioids for chronic pain or short-term use after a major surgery or injury. Unfortunately, while opioids may be effective narcotic painkillers, they also carry a high risk of addiction.

The best-known illegal opioid is heroin, which many people turn to when the prescription they’ve become addicted to is no longer available. However, synthetic opioids are quickly becoming a big problem on the streets.

Synthetic opioids are man-made drugs that produce similar effects as their natural counterparts. The biggest issue with synthetic versions is that they’re cheaper to make, easier to obtain, and are often linked with more risks than natural options. The reason for this is that it’s hard to determine just how potent a synthetic opioid is since there’s no initial regulation in place, such as would be the case for illegally sold morphine.

What Types of Synthetic Opioids Are There?

New synthetic opioids are produced all the time. This makes it challenging for the DEA to keep up with what’s currently circulating on the streets. However, one of the oldest and most commonly seen synthetic opioids is fentanyl.

Fentanyl can be available as a prescription, but the type available as a street drug is usually made in labs and is between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine. In addition, street fentanyl is often mixed into other street drugs to increase their potency for a very small price, thus increasing profits significantly.

A new synthetic opioid has been making its rounds in the American Midwest, South, and East. It’s called Isotonitazene or ISO and has a similar potency to fentanyl. The drug is sometimes referred to as nitrazene.

Other synthetic opioids include acetyl fentanyl, furanyl fentanyl, butyryl fentanyl, beta- hydroxythiofentanyl, acryl fentanyl 4-fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl, and U-47700. Depending on the location, these drugs can be called by many different names, making them hard to track.

What Are The Signs of Opioid Addiction?

Addiction can look different for everyone. However, there are a few signs you can look for in yourself or a loved one that may point to opioid addiction.

The most telling sign is experiencing a physical dependence on an opioid drug. When some time has passed since last using the opioid, you may experience symptoms of withdrawal and excessive cravings for the drug. This can lead to heavy and frequent opioid use, including in risky places or situations.

Sometimes it may not be obvious if someone is frequently using or is physically dependent on an opioid or other substance. However, other signs may point to a substance addiction. These include:

  • Challenges in school, work, or relationships
  • Financial difficulties without any seeming cause
  • Excessive drowsiness or seeming like they’re “zoning out” frequently
  • Changes in sleeping habits, including insomnia and difficulty staying asleep
  • Weight loss with no apparent reason (like dieting and exercise)
  • Often appears to have a cold or flu
  • Lack of sex drive or (in men) an ability to become physically aroused
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Isolation from friends, family members, and community groups
  • Disinterest in hobbies they once enjoyed
  • Stealing from loved ones or businesses
  • Participating in other illegal activities
  • Denial that there’s a problem

If you or a loved one is battling opioid addiction, it’s important to know you don’t have to face it alone. Addiction recovery is best done in a professional setting with medical staff.

What Does Addiction Recovery From Opioids Look Like?

Since addiction can look different for each individual, so can recovery. However, most experts agree that detox and inpatient rehab should be the first steps toward sobriety. In most cases, following this up with outpatient rehab and community support is an excellent option for remaining sober after the first few initial weeks or months.


Detox is an essential first step in addiction recovery because it ensures that all traces of the substance you’ve used is out of your system. You will experience withdrawal symptoms, and since there can be complications, it’s best to do this under medical supervision.

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab is when you live at a rehabilitation center for a set amount of time, which can vary. During an inpatient rehab stay, you’ll participate in therapies and treatments. You’ll also often learn healthy coping techniques and participate in stress-relieving exercises.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab is similar to inpatient rehab, except you can live at your own home and work your job while undergoing treatment. It can be an excellent transition between inpatient rehab and your everyday life.

Community Support

Community support includes finding friends and family you can talk to or rely on to help when you’re afraid you might slip. It can also include groups like Narcotics Anonymous or individual therapy.

If You Or A Loved One Need Help With Addiction Recovery

Synthetic opioids are just as dangerous (if not more so) than their original counterparts. The risk of overdosing is significant, especially when you can’t be sure exactly what you’re getting. That’s why getting the help you need as soon as possible is crucial.

If you or a loved one need help with addiction recovery from synthetic opioids, you can use our online tool to search for Recovery Centers near you. Our knowledgeable, sympathetic staff is ready to answer any questions you still have and help you start the road to recovery today.