What is fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. It is a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the U.S.
Types of fentanyl
There are two types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical fentanyl and illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Both are considered synthetic opioids. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain, especially after surgery and for advanced-stage cancer.
Illicitly manufactured fentanyl
Illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) is available on the drug market in different forms, including liquid and powder.
Powdered fentanyl looks just like many other drugs. It is commonly mixed with drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine and made into pills that are made to resemble other prescription opioids. Fentanyl-laced drugs are extremely dangerous, and many people may be unaware that their drugs are laced with fentanyl.
In its liquid form, IMF can be found in nasal sprays, eye drops, and dropped onto paper or small candies.
Most recent cases of fentanyl-related overdose are linked to illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which is distributed through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect. It is often added to other drugs because of its extreme potency, which makes drugs cheaper, more powerful, more addictive, and more dangerous.
Who is at risk?
Casual users, partygoers, experimenters, regular users, and even unsuspecting bystanders who may come into contact with the powerful opioid.
Fentanyl and overdose
Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths. Even in small doses, it can be deadly. Over 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
Drugs may contain deadly levels of fentanyl, and you wouldn’t be able to see it, taste it, or smell it. It is nearly impossible to tell if drugs have been laced with fentanyl unless you test your drugs with fentanyl test strips.
Test strips are inexpensive and typically give results within 5 minutes, which can be the difference between life or death. Even if the test is negative, take caution as test strips might not detect more potent fentanyl-like drugs, like carfentanil.
Fake prescription pills are easily accessible and often sold on social media and e-commerce platforms making them available to anyone with a smartphone, including minors.
There was a 560% increase in overdose deaths in 2020 fueled by fentanyl.
How To Use Fentanyl Test Strips
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is about 50 times stronger than heroin and it can be found in a number of different substances, like heroin, meth, cocaine, and pressed pills. Fentanyl Test Strips can identify the presence of fentanyl in unregulated drugs and can test injectable drugs, powders, and pills. There is not a tool available for finding Fentanyl Test Strips in specific areas but some Harm Reduction Agencies or Health Departments have them available.
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone is a non-scheduled (non-addictive), prescription medication used in opioid overdoses to counteract life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system, allowing an individual experiencing an overdose to breathe normally. Naloxone can be administered by non-medical personnel, which makes it ideal for individuals to treat overdose in people who have been prescribed opioid pain medication and in people who use heroin and other opioids. Naloxone only works if a person has opioids in their system and the medication has no effect if opioids are absent (National Harm Reduction Coalition). It may take multiple doses of Naloxone to take effect. There is no harm in giving a person who is experiencing an overdose multiple doses of Naloxone.
How Can I Get Naloxone?
Pharmacy: Although NARCAN® Nasal Spray is a prescription medication, states have passed laws to increase access to Naloxone in the community and in spaces where opioids are present. Individuals can purchase NARCAN® Nasal Spray directly from a pharmacist under a Statewide Naloxone Standing Order, although programming may differ from state to state.
Insurance: Narcan is accessible to most insurance holders for a $0 copay. Contact your health insurance provider to find out your coverage and co-pay requirements for NARCAN® Nasal Spray.
Naloxone by Mail Through Next Distro: Please explore options for finding Naloxone in your own community prior to requesting through the mail with NEXT. NEXT is actively working to reserve their resources for those who truly have no other access points available to them.
Local health departments and community based service providers that serve individuals with substance use disorders.
Local Harm Reduction Agencies: Harm Reduction Agencies are able to offer Narcan and training on how to respond to an opioid overdose and may have other services that can be helpful for individuals who use drugs and their network.