From 2019 to 2020, drug overdose deaths increased by 30% in the U.S., and from 2020 to 2020, overdose deaths grew by another 15%. While many contributing factors contribute to skyrocketing overdose death rates, one of the key reasons is a sharp rise in unintentional fentanyl overdose deaths. Read on to learn more about the dangers of drugs laced with fentanyl and how to get help with addiction.
Why Is Fentanyl So Dangerous?
Fentanyl is an opioid drug that is manufactured. The drug is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. Powdered fentanyl is a milky white powder similar in appearance to other drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. It can also be made into pills sold as prescription opioids like Vicodin, Oxycontin, and drugs like Xanax and Adderall. You typically can’t tell the difference between fentanyl and other drugs just by looking, making it easy to be fooled into taking illicitly manufactured fentanyl.
How Much Fentanyl Will Kill You?
How much fentanyl it takes to cause a lethal overdose depends on a person’s age, health, body mass, tolerance, and other factors. Generally, 2mg is considered a deadly dose of fentanyl, but some people may overdose on smaller doses. Studies have found counterfeit pills made of fentanyl typically contain anywhere from 0.02 to 5.1 mg of fentanyl.
How Does Unintentional Fentanyl Use Happen?
There are two ways that unintentional fentanyl overdose can happen: counterfeit pills and fentanyl-laced drugs. With counterfeit pills, a person believes they are taking a medication that they are used to handling and know the effects of, but they are actually receiving a dose of a powerful synthetic opioid.
Lace drugs mean adding fentanyl to other powdered street drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine. People don’t know that the pills they purchased contain fentanyl. When they use the amount of the drug to which they are accustomed, the potency is more significant due to the presence of fentanyl, and they can easily overdose.
Why Are Drugs Being Laced with Fentanyl?
Drugs are being laced with fentanyl to increase the profits of drug dealers. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl costs very little to produce. Because it is much less expensive and more readily available than other street drugs, mixing in fentanyl can spread out a supply of cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine and make the drugs more potent. This means they can sell to more people without sacrificing potency.
Making counterfeit pills out of fentanyl also increases profits. Purchasing genuine prescription drugs is often expensive. By substituting fentanyl for the real thing, sellers can charge a high price per pill and reduce costs.
How to Avoid an Overdose
In the age of counterfeit pills and fentanyl-laced drugs, anyone who uses illicit drugs or takes prescription medications recreationally should take steps to protect themselves from overdose by:
- Using fentanyl test strips: Test strips are simple to use and can detect the presence of fentanyl within 5 minutes. However, the strips may not detect drugs similar to fentanyl-like carfentanil.
- Not using drugs alone: Taking medications in the presence of others can reduce the risk of overdose. New York City and other cities have overdose prevention centers that allow people to use previously purchased drugs in a supervised setting to help prevent overdose.
- Knowing the symptoms of overdose: Be on the lookout for signs of overdose, such as pinpoint pupils, losing consciousness, slow or weak breathing, cold or clammy skin, choking or gurgling sounds, limp body, and discoloration of the skin and nails. If someone is exhibiting these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
- Keeping a supply of naloxone: Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can dramatically decrease the risk of overdose deaths when appropriately administered. In some states, naloxone can be purchased from an online or brick-and-mortar pharmacy without a prescription.
Substance Abuse Treatment Is the Best Solution for Overdose Prevention
Using illicit drugs damages relationships and destroys physical and mental health. Drugs can also lead to death due to overdose. With the increasing likelihood of suffering an overdose due to fentanyl that you didn’t intend to take, drug use is more dangerous than ever. Getting help for addiction is the best way to protect yourself. Through evidence-based substance abuse treatment, you can get support for dealing with withdrawal symptoms, explore the root causes of your addiction and develop strategies for avoiding drugs in the future. Contact The Dunes East Hampton for more information about residential and intensive outpatient treatment.