Fentanyl is a highly dangerous opioid addiction treatment saves lives

Fentanyl is deadly, but help is available

Be aware of the facts on fentanyl and you could save a life

May 7 is National Fentanyl Awareness Day in the United States. It is a day for remembering those lost to fentanyl poisoning and overdose and to educate the public about the deadly dangers of this drug crisis. It’s also a moment of hope, because there is effective help available to treat fentanyl addiction as well as other opioid use disorders.

A powerful synthetic opioid, just a small dose of fentanyl can kill someone in a matter of moments. Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 1000 times stronger than morphine. Just two milligrams, the equivalent of a few grains of salt, is a potentially lethal dose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported nearly 83,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2022, the majority from fentanyl. Over 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids

A lethal dose of fentanyl is the same amount of a few grains of salt.
Just a few grains of fentanyl can kill someone in a matter of minutes (image credit DEA)

Fentanyl is a prescription medication that was developed to provide powerful pain relief to people with end-of-life cancers. However, illicit fentanyl is produced cheaply in drug labs and is often added to other drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana to enhance their effects and make them more addictive. The powder is also pressed into counterfeit pills made to look like Percocet, Vicodin, Xanax, Adderall, Ecstasy (MDMA), Alprazolam, or others. Many people who died from fentanyl had no idea they were taking it.

Goofball: Meth and fentanyl

Fentanyl and meth are sometimes taken together intentionally, which is called goofballing. It is a killer combination. Here at Affect, where we’ve been successfully treating stimulant use disorders such as meth and cocaine addictions, we have a lot of experience in helping people get the help they need.

If you are dealing with problems with meth and fentanyl, or another substance, reach out to us and let’s talk. You can download our app and start using it for free right away.

How can I tell if drugs are laced with fentanyl or pills are fake?

It is nearly impossible to tell if drugs are laced with fentanyl unless they are tested with fentanyl test strips. Counterfeit pills can be difficult to spot.

Fake pills laced with fentanyl can be difficult to spot. Always test your drugs before taking them
Fake pills laced with fentanyl can be difficult to spot. Always test your drugs before taking them. (image credit: DEA)

Fentanyl test strips are small pieces of paper originally created to detect the drug in urine. They can be used to see if a drug contains fentanyl in a matter of minutes.

Where can I get fentanyl test strips?

Fentanyl test strips can be found in many places, such as your local health department, a needle exchange program, or many other community-based organizations. They can be purchased online at sites like dancesafe.org and even Amazon. Many states, such as Ohio and Nevada, provide free test strips.

Test strips are easy to use. The best way is to dissolve the drugs in water and then use the strip to check. Once tested and safe, you can drink the water or let it evaporate to leave the powder of the drugs. General guidance is to use 1 teaspon of water for every 10mg of a drug like crystal or powder meth, or MDMA. With other drugs, such as cocaine, use a half teaspon of water.

What are the signs of fentanyl overdose?

Recognizing an opioid overdose quickly can save a life. The CDC advises to look for these things:

  • Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”
  • Falling asleep or losing consciousness
  • Slow, weak, or no breathing
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Limp body
  • Cold and/or clammy skin
  • Discolored skin (especially in lips and nails)

What to do if you think someone is overdosing on fentanyl

Most states have Good Samaritan laws that can protect a person who is overdosing and the person who called for help from legal trouble. If you recognize the signs and think someone is overdosing, do not be afraid to call for help.

  • Call 911 immediately
  • Administer naloxone, if available
  • Try to keep the person awake and breathing
  • Lay the person on their side to prevent choking
  • Stay with the person until emergency assistance arrives

What is naloxone?

Naloxone is a life saving medication that can reverse an opioid overdose when it is given in time. It is available in two forms that require no medical training or authorization: prefilled nasal spray and injectable. Naloxone can restore breathing in as little as 2-3 minutes in someone who has stopped breathing from an opioid overdose.

People who use any drugs or know people who do are advised to carry naloxone with them or keep it at home. It isn’t different from carrying an epipen and it is easy to administer the nasal spray or injectable. Studies have found that there were bystanders in more than a third of opioid overdose deaths. Carrying naloxone is a matter of life and death.

Where can I get naloxone?

Naloxone is available in every state. In many states you can get naloxone at a local pharmacy without a prescription. There are also community-based naloxone programs where you can get it. Syringe services programs also can provide naloxone.

How can I get help for drug addiction?

We can help you get the help you need if you are struggling with a substance use disorder. If you are dealing with problems related to drug or alcohol use, reach out to us and let’s talk. You can download our app and start using it for free right away.

Affect’s program is proven to be more than twice as effective as traditional treatment methods in treating substance use disorders. Using a highly motivating system of rewards as you gradually and comfortably reduce your use, our app delivers all the care of an outpatient clinic right to your smartphone. We can provide medications to ease discomfort.

If you want to get your life back from drugs and alcohol without going to drug rehab or an addiction treatment clinic, Affect’s program can help you reach your goals.

Let’s get started getting better. We’re here for you.