What Are the Deadliest Opioids?

The United States is in the midst of an Opioid Epidemic. While many people unassociated with the crisis tend to think that the deadliest opioids are illicit drugs like Heroin, the issue is much more complex. Many people who suffer from addiction report starting with an Opioid prescribed for pain. These people usually only turn to Heroin out of a feeling of necessity.

Now more than ever, new and potent Opioids are becoming readily available and actually contaminating other drugs. Users who have no interest in substances other than the prescriptions they crave are being given other dangerous substances without their knowledge. The following is a list of 5 of the deadliest opioids.


Oxycodone may seem like an unusual addition to this list, but it is a potent Opioid that is regularly prescribed for pain. It is a primary ingredient in OxyContin, a popular painkiller that was over-prescribed upon its creation. The company behind OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, has had over two dozen states and even more cities file a lawsuits against the company for withholding information on the addictiveness of their substance.

This led to an increase in prescriptions, giving more and more people who needed pain relief OxyContin. Today, 80% of people addicted to Heroin started with a prescription to an Opioid pain reliever like Oxycodone.


The least surprising substance on this list, Heroin is one of the most dangerous Opioids out there. Like many of the illicit drugs today, Heroin was originally developed as a medication and was briefly used as an alternative to Morphine. It was discontinued after the addictive nature of Heroin was discovered. However, the knowledge was out there and people were able to start producing it on their own.

Today, there are entire organizations dedicated to the creation and sale of Heroin. There are even different levels of purity from different processes.


Fentanyl is a synthetic Opioid that has become popular in the news due to its spread across the country. It’s now speculated that many of the deaths caused by Heroin and other Opioids are actually due to the presence of Fentanyl.

While Fentanyl in itself if very lethal, the most dangerous aspect of it is how difficult it is to detect. Clandestine labs are constantly changing their formula to get around different laws when its imported to the US. While changing the formula enables them to do this, it also means that the Fentanyl won’t always show up in testing and could be more potent than a previous batch.


Carfentanil is a Fentanyl analogue that is 100 times stronger than Fentanyl, or 10,000 times more potent than Morphine. Carfentanil was developed as an elephant tranquilizer. Similar to many drugs, however, clandestine labs began producing it illicitly soon after it was discovered.

Similar to Fentanyl, it takes a tiny amount of Carfentanil to be lethal. Just 0.02 milligrams. As a reference, measure out ¼ of a teaspoon of sugar then divide that 50,000 times. It will be impossible for most people at home, but if you can imagine, that is the amount of Carfentanil it takes for the average adult man to overdose.

Gray Death

“Gray Death” is a blend of Opioids, and perhaps other substances, that looks like cement. While the substance has grown in popularity, and is responsible for more and more deaths, little is known about what goes into it.

It seems that it commonly contains Heroin, Fentanyl, and U47700, a Fentanyl analogue. It’s possible for any number of other substances to be contained in a sample of Gray Death, as any substance in small enough traces will be hard, if not impossible, to detect. The nature of Gray Death means that there is no assurance of what users will receive.