Within the last year, The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has seen a dramatic increase in the availability of fake prescription drugs. Criminal drug networks are mass-producing counterfeit pills and falsely selling them as legitimate prescription pills, and drug dealers are now adding fentanyl to counterfeit opioid medications and other drugs.
What is Fentanyl
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine. It takes 2 mg or less of fentanyl to kill an adult who is not opioid-tolerant. Indeed, its potency makes it attractive for drug dealers to add it to other drugs such as heroin or replace heroin altogether since it is relatively expensive.
What Does Fentanyl Look Like?
It comes as a white powder that can be pressed into pills, as a liquid in gel capsules, and as a patch. It’s impossible to look at a fake prescription and know that it contains fentanyl.
What is fentanyl made from?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid made in a lab. Rather, most other traditional opioids derive from the opium poppy plant. An individual should only use prescription fentanyl and other opioids when closely monitored by medical professionals.
What Is Fentanyl Used For?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid used to treat severe pain in hospitalized patients, often after surgery. It treats chronic pain in those physically tolerant to other opioids.
Is Fentanyl Lethal?
Yes, fentanyl can be lethal because it is 50-100 times as potent as morphine. It takes 2 mg (or less) of fentanyl to kill an adult who is not opioid-tolerant. In comparison, this is the same amount as several grains of salt.
How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Your System?
Fentanyl is detected in your system in varying degrees through urine tests, hair samples, and blood tests. A urine test shows up between 24-72 hours after the last use, and hair tests can detect fentanyl for up to 3 months. Comparatively, blood tests can see it between 5 and 48 hours after use, depending on the dose.
Fentanyl Side Effects & Symptoms
Like every drug on the market, fentanyl has side effects. Common side effects include:
- feeling or being sick (nausea or vomiting)
- stomach pain
- feeling sleepy or tired
- feeling dizzy or a sensation of spinning (vertigo)
- itching or skin rashes
In overdose or excessive use, serious symptoms include:
- trouble waking a person up
- slow or no breathing
- snoring breathing
- pale, cool skin
- small pupil size
Withdrawal Signs & Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms of fentanyl use can begin as early as a few hours after a person stops taking the drug. These symptoms include:
- muscle and bone pain
- sleep problems
- diarrhea and vomiting
- cold flashes with goosebumps
- uncontrollable leg movements
- severe cravings
These symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and are why many people find it difficult to stop taking fentanyl.
Fake Prescriptions & Deadly Consequences
The Drug Enforcement Agency is warning the public about a dramatic increase in fake prescription drugs containing a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl. Simultaneously, fake prescriptions are widely available online or through social media platforms, leaving teens and young adults more vulnerable.
The agency’s lab has found that two out of every five fake pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal drug dose. Drug traffickers are using fake pills to exploit the opioid crisis and prescription drug misuse in the United States.
The announcement of this epidemic doesn’t apply to fake opioid medications only. However, some of the most common counterfeit pills look like prescription opioids and contain methamphetamines. The only safe drugs are those a trusted medical professional prescribes and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist.
Call The Missouri Poison Center for Confidential, Non-Judgmental Medical Advice
If you are experiencing an overdose or helping someone who is experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately for emergency assistance. Additionally, if you need assistance identifying a pill or any other medication or have questions about opioids, including fentanyl, contact the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. Specially trained nurses and pharmacists can assist you. All calls are free and confidential.
The Missouri Poison Center commits to making our community a better place where you and your family can be safe from poisoning.