Fentanyl is the kind of drug that has similar effects to that of morphine or heroin but is considered significantly more powerful than these drugs. This means that a tiny dose can have dangerous effects on you.
Bryan Kuhn, who is a pharmacist and a poison education specialist at the Banner University Medical Center Phoenix has compared it to a baker who uses all-purpose flour to make cookies. Suppose there is a flour substitute available, and you are able to make as many cookies with just an ounce of this new flour substitute as you could with a pound of your regular flour. So, what is easier? Using the regular pound of flour or just an ounce of flour?
“That’s what we see with fentanyl,” said Dr. Kuhn. “The drug cartels understand it takes a pound of heroin to make 1,000 tablets. They only need an ounce of fentanyl to take 1,000 tablets, and it’s cost-beneficial for them to do it.”
It becomes relatively easy to get fentanyl or even the components to make it, and it is also easier to transport.
Street versions of oxycodone (Oxycontin) are among the illicit and illegal medications to which fentanyl is added or used instead. The physical imprint on the prescription form of the medication is M30, and these pills are often blue in color.
The issue is that because fentanyl is so potent when drug gangs manufacture it, the dosage can differ from tablet to tablet. “You might be fine with five micrograms, but you might not be with 500. Tenths of a milligram are called micrograms. Such contradiction is not difficult to have, according to Dr. Kuhn. A tablet’s fentanyl content cannot be accurately determined.
Whatever you call them, fentanyl is most likely what you will get if you purchase illicit narcotics. Dr. Kuhn noted that fentanyl is frequently detected in drug tests rather than other opiates.
Why does fentanyl pose a risk?
Fentanyl is usually mixed with other substances or even at times marketed as substances other than fentanyl, like prescription medications. This poses a major risk because individuals often tend to consume fentanyl without them knowing about it or even meaning to. This can also result in accidental overdose and at times, death.
Fentanyl is often found in:
- Powders (like cocaine)
- Pressed pills meant to look like prescription medications (like Xanax or Oxy/M30s)
- … and much more!
Some experts consider that even 2mg of fentanyl can prove to be lethal, but there are a number of counterfeit pills that contain up to 5mg (which is more than twice the dose). When we hear the amount, it seems to be incredibly small.
The following image shows how much 2mg of Fentanyl looks like.
While many drugs have tested positive for fentanyl by public health agencies, it is important for you to remember that any kind of drug or pill that is sold on the internet, on the streets, or even by a person might know has a possibility of containing a lethal dose of fentanyl.
How widespread is fentanyl?
You might not realize how common fentanyl is.
Authorities in Colorado have observed a significant increase in fentanyl over the past year and anticipate an increase in overdoses in the upcoming months. In fact, according to the CDC, fentanyl overdoses are now the number one killer of Americans aged 18 to 45.
A deadly amount of fentanyl was also found in almost half of all counterfeit tablets tested, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Given that it might be difficult to tell real medications from fake or counterfeit ones, this statistic is very concerning. See how fake pills can be made to resemble real drugs by looking at the examples below.
Street names include: 30s, M30s, oxy, kickers, 40s, 512s, blues
Street names include: bars, benzos, bricks, ladders, sticks, xanies, zanbars, z-bars
Prescribed as: Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Dexedrine, Focalin, Metadate, and Methylin.
How can you protect yourself from Fentanyl?
One way to absolutely stay safe from fentanyl is by steering clear of any kind of illicit drugs. Make sure that you are not buying any kinds of pills online unless you have a proper prescription and are going to a reputable pharmacy. The best way to do this is by assuming the fact that any kind of prescription pill that you buy outside of the normal channels of buying medicines is fake and has a high possibility of being deadly.
However, in case of the people that are prone to drug abuse, they simply cannot choose to put an end to this.
In order to prevent an overdose, Dr. Kuhn advised having access to the nasal spray naloxone (Narcan). “There are various drug detox programs available, but naloxone is the intervention that is known to save lives. The best thing you can do to safeguard yourself in the event of an overdose is that. You want it for yourself and the people in your life.
Naloxone is sold without a prescription at pharmacies. “Most insurances cover it, and AHCCCS [Arizona’s Medicaid agency] covers it 100%,” claimed Dr. Kuhn. The earlier you take it, the safer you are and the less probable it is that you will die or suffer long-term neurological damage, according to Dr. Kuhn.
Ask the person if they are OK, call their name, shake their shoulders, and look for symptoms like sluggish breathing or a small pupil in their eyes if you believe you need to deliver naloxone. If they exhibit overdosing symptoms, turn them onto their back and give them the nasal spray. In addition, you can call 888-688-4222 for assistance with administering naloxone, however, according to Dr. Kuhn, the directions on the container are quite clear. Afterward, dial 911. The naloxone dose isn’t always adequate, and an overdose victim may require professional medical attention.
One of the safest ways to avoid any kind of dangerous or even deadly fentanyl overdose is by keeping in your mind that any kind of prescription pill that you buy outside of your regular pharmacy or the doctor’s office has a high chance of killing you.
Always be prepared to counteract the possibility of an overdose by having naloxone with you. This way you can easily administer it if you see someone showing signs of an overdose. Naloxone can be found at almost any pharmacy.