Synthetic opioids are substances manufactured in a laboratory to provide pain or analgesic relief in the same way as natural opioids, including Morphine and Codeine. Synthetic opioids have similar chemical structures to natural opiates. Doctors legally prescribe natural opiate drugs for pain relief. Semi-synthetic opioids are synthesized or manufactured from components in natural opiates. The opioids classified as prescription pain medications include:
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- Oxycodone (Oxycontin)
Opioids are all related chemically. All opioids have receptors that interact with the brain and the body’s nerve cells.
In the 1920s, chemists began the development of synthetic opioids as an alternative to Morphine. The most common synthetic-based opioids include:
- Furanyl Fentanyl
- Meperidine (Demerol) moderate to severe pain relief
- 4-fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl
- Acetylfentanyl is an opioid analgesic that has 15 times the strength of Morphine. Acetyl fentanyl has never been designated for medical use and is considered to be a designer drug. The side effects of Acetylfentanyl are similar to Fentanyl.
- Butyrylfentanyl is a short-acting synthetic opioid with approximately one-quarter of the strength of Fentanyl. This drug has never been approved for medical use and is considered to be strictly a recreational drug.
- Beta-Hydroxythiofentanyl is an analog of Fentanyl and a potent opioid. The drug is currently not accepted as a prescription analgesic and has no accepted medical use in the United States. Beta-Hydroxythiofentanyl has an extremely high potential for abuse and overdose.
- Furanyl Fentanyl is a highly dangerous synthetic opioid that can cause death from absorption through the skin that has been labeled a synthetic opioid by the DEA. At least 12 deaths occurred in Georgia between 2016 and 2017 from Furanyl Fentanyl. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation found pills and powder in a pill factory. The vials were labeled as Oxycodone but were Furanyl Fentanyl, which is more potent than Heroin. Levels of the opioid may be measured by the urine or blood levels to check for use.
- Meperidine is sold under the brand names of Demerol and Meperitab. Meperidine is a powerful prescription opioid prescribed by doctors for acute pain during and following surgery and other procedures. Meperidine may be used in conjunction with general anesthesia for laparoscopic procedures. Meperidine overdoses can be potentially life-threatening when not used under a doctor’s care.
- 4-Fluoroisobutyrylfentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s an analog of Butyrylfentanyl. The opioid isn’t accepted for medical use or prescribed by doctors. 4-Fluoroisobutyrylfentanyl is strictly a potent, designer drug that has nearly ten times the potency of Morphine. Nausea, extreme itching, and severe respiratory problems are common side effects of the drug; all are potentially life-threatening.
- U-47700 is one of the most potent and dangerous synthetic opioid drugs. U-47700 is referred to by the nicknames:
This opioid often appears as a white or light pink powder. It’s usually compressed into pills and sold in baggies. People often mistake this drug for legal, prescription painkillers. Abuse problems with U-47700 are similar to those of prescription medications, designer opioid drugs, or Heroin. U-47700 is most often snorted, injected by syringe, or swallowed as pills.
Since 2017 Fentanyl has been one of the most widely used drugs and is 50 to 100 times more potent than Morphine. Synthetic opioids clandestinely produced are often in powder or tablet form. These opioids may be produced as a single substance or in combination with substances, including Heroin or Fentanyl. Any form of Fentanyl is incredibly potent and should only be administered to people tolerant of narcotic drugs and under the supervision of a doctor. The most common synthetic-based opioids are Demerol, Fentanyl, and Methadone.
Common Side Effects of Synthetic Opioids
Most side effects of synthetic opioids are similar to prescription opioid pain relievers like Morphine. Among the side effects users may experience are:
- pupillary constriction
- respiratory depression
- urinary retention
Overdose Effects of Synthetic Opioids
The effects of overdosing from synthetic opioids are similar to prescription pain relievers. Side effects may include:
- Changes in pupil size
- Clammy or cold skin
- Respiratory failure
The presence of multiple symptoms, including respiratory depression, pinpoint pupils, and coma, may suggest opioid poisoning.
Drugs That Cause Similar Side Effects
Some of the most potent drugs that cause similar effects include opioids such as Heroin, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Methadone, Morphine, and Oxycodone. Synthetic opioid drugs should only be administered under the direct supervision of a doctor. Even under medical care, patients should never deviate from the directions of their doctor.