Fentanyl: the deadly drug overtaking America's heroin epidemic

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Fentanyl: the deadly drug overtaking America's heroin epidemic

America's heroin epidemic is being overtaken by another deadly drug addiction: fentanyl.

Fentanyl is an opioid painkiller 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.

Fentanyl's stronger, fast-acting high keeps addicts coming back and makes overdoses frequent.

The CDC reports roughly 5,500 people died from fentanyl overdoses in 2014. Fentanyl overdoses increased by 88% between 2013 and 2014 and is still on the rise.

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Fentanyl made headlines when it was identified as the cause of music legend Prince's death.

Some dealers trick addicts by combining fentanyl with other drugs, like heroin, because it's cheaper.

The drug can be taken as patch or pill but is usually abused intravenously.

Doctors prescribe fentanyl to cancer patients when routine pain medicine isn't strong enough. Prescription fentanyl brands include Subsys, Actiq, Gentora, Abstral, and Onsolis.

Click through the gallery below to see photos of fentanyl:

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Fentanyl Citrate, a CLASS II Controlled Substance as classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency in the secure area of a local hospital Friday, July10, 2009.

(Photo By Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

A seized counterfeit hydrocodone tablets in the investigation of a rash of fentanyl overdoses in northern California is shown in this Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) photo released on April 4, 2016. At least 42 drug overdoses in the past two weeks have been reported in northern California, 10 of them fatal, in what authorities on Monday called the biggest cluster of poisonings linked to the powerful synthetic narcotic fentanyl ever to hit the U.S. West Coast.

(Drug Enforcement Administration/Handout via Reuters)

Fentanyl Citrate, a CLASS II Controlled Substance as classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency in the secure area of a local hospital Friday, July10, 2009.

(Photo By Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Dory Bauler's unused Fentanyl patch packets. She is one of millions of patients who used the fentanyl patch, which delivers a powerful narcotic through the skin. The patch, brand name Duragesic, was the subject of a recent FDA alert. Patients are overdosing, sometimes they die. Mrs. Bauler came off the patch when she realized the drug was causing her breathing problems, a sign of serious trouble. This photo was taken at her home in Laguna Woods.

(Photo by Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

A small bag of straight Fentanyl on display at the State Crime Lab at the Ohio Attorney General's headquarters of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation on Wednesday, September 16, 2015 in London, Ohio.

(Photo by Ty Wright for/ For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

'If I don't put these on, it hurts to breathe,' says Smitty Anderson wearing Fentanyl patches to help him deal with the pain caused by multiple myeloma cancer, a blood cancer that affects the bones. Anderson worked at Savannah River Site from 1981 to 1998. The Andersons filed claims to get federal compensation for his disease, which he said came from working at the nuclear site. He had no luck. 'We've been going through so much red tape for years,' he said. 'My wife has to do all the work now. I just don't have the strength anymore.' He died on Nov. 5, 2015.

(Gerry Melendez/The State/TNS via Getty Images)

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