What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a deadly synthetic opioid that is stronger than morphine, and it can be found in a number of different substances such as heroin, meth, cocaine, and pressed pills.
As a slow-release patch, fentanyl can be prescribed to people with long-term, severe pain. The illegally used fentanyl most often associated with recent overdoses is made in labs and referred to as “street fentanyl.” It is swallowed, smoked, snorted, or injected. Both are very dangerous and when not used correctly. Even a small amount can cause an overdose and death.
Actions You Can Take Right Now:
- Develop Your Safety Plan, and display your safety plan where it is easily seen or accessible and give your safety plan to people you trust will use it.
- Learn more about Naloxone, a medication used to reverse an opioid overdose.
- Families with children and teens are encouraged to explore our SAFE Choices program, which has valuable connections and youth prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery resources for parents, guardians, and caretakers.
Fentanyl and its Impact on the Addiction Crisis
The recent increased supply of street fentanyl is exacerbating the opioid epidemic, which has grown since the onset of COVID-19. From August to September 2021, the DEA seized 1.8 million counterfeit pills and arrested more than 800 suspected drug traffickers. Illegal drug labs produce street fentanyl, and it may be mixed with other substances without anyone knowing. Street fentanyl is often hard to detect because you cannot see, smell or taste it. Fentanyl is so strong that there is a fine line between a dose that will get you high and a dose that can kill you. Fentanyl is overtaking heroin as the drug responsible for the most overdose fatalities.
Fentanyl and Our Youth
In recent years, there has been an uptick in fentanyl-related incidents among youth and young adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the age group of 15-34 has witnessed a significant increase in fentanyl-related deaths, underscoring the urgent need for awareness and preventive measures. The ease of access to illicitly manufactured fentanyl has contributed to its widespread use among this demographic.
In today’s digital age, social media platforms have become an easy outlet for teens seeking to purchase drugs. The anonymity and convenience offered by these platforms provide a covert space for illicit transactions. Peer pressure and the desire for social acceptance can drive teenagers to explore these online avenues, inadvertently exposing them to the dangerous world of substance abuse. Parents, educators, and community leaders must foster open dialogues, emphasizing the importance of making informed, responsible choices in an increasingly interconnected digital landscape.
In the News
- NPR (August 13, 2023): Caring for people with fentanyl addiction often means treating terrible wounds
- White House (July 11, 2023): FACT SHEET: In Continued Fight Against Overdose Epidemic, the White House Releases National Response Plan to Address the Emerging Threat of Fentanyl Combined with Xylazine
- NBC News story (August 7, 2022): Once feared, illicit fentanyl is now a drug of choice for many opioid users
- Medpage Today news (July 21, 2022): Blame Won’t Curb the Fentanyl Crisis
- New York Times story (May 19, 2022): As Fentanyl Overdoses Rise, How to Keep Loved Ones Safe
- National Institute on Drug Abuse Press Release (March 31, 2022): Law enforcement seizures of pills containing fentanyl increased dramatically between 2018-2021
- White House Press Release (March 16, 2022): At Urging of U.S., UN Commission Acts Against “Precursor” Chemicals Used to Produce Illicit Fentanyl
Have a Safety Plan
Having a safety plan can help reverse the silence on the addiction epidemic. As a harm reduction tool, SAFE Project’s downloadable Safety Plan with tips can help individuals who use drugs prevent overdose. Display your safety plan where it is easily seen or accessible and give your safety plan to people you trust will use it.