How fentanyl works

April 18, 2023

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid originally created to help patients with chronic pain. Because the drug is not found naturally, it latches onto brain receptors more tightly, which can quicken its effects.

When prescribed, it can be useful and safe. However, fentanyl pills sold from unreliable sources are more likely to contain at least two milligrams of the drug — a deadly dosage.

Chavez says this high risk that comes with fentanyl makes it different from experimenting with other drugs. The margin of error is so slim when making these pills illegally. Because it’s so deadly, there are no second chances. 

“They don’t have some perfect formula to make sure that the first pill they make is going to be identical to the 100,000th pill they make,” Chavez said. “They can’t make sure all of them have less than two milligrams.”

According to Chavez, one sugar packet’s worth of fentanyl can make 500 deadly pills.

“So you look at just the little sugar packet container on a restaurant tabletop, that’s generally 10 to 20 sugar packets maybe,” Chavez said. “I mean, that’s literally [enough for] Marcus, Flower Mound, Argyle, Guyer, combined.”

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