Fentanyl A powerful, Dangerous Opioid

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR ADOLESCENTS AND THEIR PARENTS

POSTED FEBRUARY 22, 2017

With the recent series of tragic deaths across North America related to narcotic drug overdoses, here is some information about fentanyl to help teens and their parents understand the dangers of fentanyl and other illegal street drugs.

About fentanyl

Fentanyl is an opioid like morphine, codeine and oxycodone, but much more potent. Opioids are depressant medications as they slow down the part of the brain that controls breathing. Overdose of opioids can result in death because breathing stops. All opioid drugs can be dangerous and need to be taken only as prescribed by a medical professional and only be used as prescribed by the person they are prescribed for.

Prescription vs Illicit Fentanyl

Prescription fentanyl is used for pain control and comes in a trans-dermal (skin) patch or liquid forms and is manufactured under strict guidelines and controls by reputable pharmaceutical companies. On the other hand, non-prescription or illicit (counterfeit)fentanyl is not produced by the pharmaceutical industry. It is usually made in homemade labs or even kitchens (often in China) where guidelines are not followed and the production and quality is not controlled. As a result, a person taking illicit fentanyl has no idea what they are taking. Illicit fentanyl has the potential to be even more fatal than prescription Fentanyl because it is a pure form and a very small amount, as little as 2 grains, can be fatal.

Fentanyl Disguised-Buyer Beware

People may not be aware that they are consuming fentanyl as it can be disguised as other drugs. Illicit fentanyl can be found in many other drugs sold illegally on the street with various names including Faded 80s, K22s, A215s , Fake Oxys,  Greenies and  Green Beanies. In addition, illicit fentanyl can be hidden in other illegal street drugs like cocaine, heroin, crystal meth and ecstasy. Alarmingly, illicit fentanyl has also been found in  various counterfeit pain medications, sold on the street, that look like the real version of the pill, like Xanax or Oxycontin. In fact, police in multiple jurisdictions have found such pills that tested positive for the presence of illicit fentanyl. So, no matter what you buy, fentanyl may be hiding in the drugs and it can kill you. One of the striking and tragic features is that it can get users into trouble very quickly; within a matter of minutes their life could be in danger.  

Obviously prevention is best, so here are some tips to avoid counterfeit/illicit medication:

  • Only take medication as prescribed by your health professional;
  • Avoid taking any medications that were not prescribed to you;
  • Only get your medication from a pharmacy or a health professional;

About Carfentanil

Another emerging threat is carfentanil, an opioid 100 times more toxic than fentanyl used by veterinarians for very large animals like elephants. This highly potent/toxic opioid is not for human use as it can be deadly in extremely small amounts. Carfentanil like illicit fentanyl is being cut in to other street drugs like heroin and counterfeit pills made to look like prescription opioid pills.  Like illicit fentanyl, there is no easy way to know if carfentanil is in a drug, as you cannot smell, see or taste it. Yet another reason to  avoid all street drugs. Please share this message.