TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT DRUGS. ONLY ONE CAN KILL THEM. It may look like candy!! The "Death pill," fentanyl is disguised as other drugs and linked to the spike in US overdoses. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times as powerful as morphine, and often users of Xanax and other pills don’t know they’re taking it. Users can purchase fentanyl nasal sprays, geltabs, and even U-47700 – a research opiate – in the form of Pez candies.
In communities across the US, authorities are raising red flags about overdoses on fentanyl by people who thought they took something else. “If you are dependent upon or you are experimenting with prescription painkillers please make sure you are getting those painkillers from a licensed pharmacy,” Fentanyl, a prescription pain medication, often concocted in illicit laboratories overseas, has been escalating the opioid epidemic for more than a year. Though there are some who take fentanyl recreationally, the drug is often used to cut heroin, catching many users off-guard, and sometimes leading to overdoses and death. Xanax users often have an even lower tolerance for the drug because they believe they are taking an anti-anxiety medication and may never have taken an opiate before. Counterfeit medications and candies disguised as something other than fentanyl are raising new concerns and confusion in the opioid epidemic sweeping America. While chemists supplying the drugs are concocting an array of synthetic opioids overseas, suppliers in the US and Canada are finding new ways to package and distribute the drugs, creating challenges for users, law enforcement and health workers. Some call the fentanyl-laced drug the "super pill." But the law-enforcement world says the term "death pill" is more accurate because even a small dose of the powder can shut down your respiratory system. A high dose will shut down the brain's respiratory signals and ultimately halt breathing. When you are buying it off the street, it's as dangerous as buying any other street drug, "We often don't know what the dose is, and we don't know what it's mixed with, so there's no telling what effects it might have on any person." Fentanyl amplifies the effects of any drugs mixed with it, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Law enforcement officers are more familiar encountering fentanyl in a powder form mixed with heroin. A photo comparison from the San Francisco Department of Public Health shows just how talented drug dealers are. Real Xanax is on the left. The counterfeit is on the right.
Fentanyl is part of the class of drugs know as opioids. Other opioids include morphine, oxycodone and heroin. “Opioids can be natural or synthetic chemicals and they bind to opioid receptors. They’re often used in medicine to treat pain or for anesthesia. Fentanyl is a very, very powerful sedative and it takes only a very small amount to overdose.” Opioid receptors are found in the brain, spinal cord and digestive tract. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than other opioids, like oxycodone, and is also highly addictive with users often needing to take more and more of the drug to get the same high. When used in medicine, it is often delivered intravenously or in patch form. “Fentanyl, right now, is one of the most available and cheapest narcotics. Overdosing on fentanyl is relatively easy, in part because users may buy what they think is oxycodone or other opioids and receive fentanyl instead. The recreational use of fentanyl is what is most concerning. This is a drug that’s being used recreationally by individuals who may pop a pill at a party, for example, who wouldn’t consider themselves regular or dependent drug users. “But these are people who are at grave risk because they have no tolerance; that is to say their body is not used to seeing this drug and therefore it can stop their breathing quite quickly.” An antidote for fentanyl is called naloxone. There is no such thing as a safe street drug, the drug dealer is not there to protect you. You never know what is in a street drug and so it’s very important to protect yourself and get the information. Even if you’re just popping a pill at a party, you are at risk. We’re seeing many deaths in this population. This is a problem that deserves a lot of attention because it’s killing a lot of people.
The most notorious version is known as Oxy-80. It’s a green pill masquerading as oxycodone but it is actually, in almost all cases now, fentanyl. That pill is taken orally by some people. Other people may choose to snort it or inject it. All of these forms of use are dangerous. Street names for the drug include shady eighties, green beans and greenies, so-called for the drug’s green color in pill form.