What is Fentanyl and why is it dangerous?
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 California and the United States.
There are two types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical fentanyl and illicitly manufactured fentanyl (illicit fentanyl). Both are synthetic opioids. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain, such as while in the hospital for and after surgery or for advanced-stage cancer. Illicit fentanyl is distributed through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect.
Fentanyl is extremely potent. Illicit fentanyl can be added to other drugs to make them cheaper, more powerful, and more addictive. Illicit fentanyl has been found in many drugs, including heroin, methamphetamine, counterfeit pills, and cocaine. Fentanyl mixed with any drug increases the likelihood of a fatal overdose. Rainbow Fentanyl is a brightly-colored form of the drug that has been identified as a new trend across the nation (Sept. 2022). According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Rainbow Fentanyl can be found in many forms, including pills, powder, and blocks that can resemble sidewalk chalk or candy.
Fentanyl-laced drugs are extremely dangerous. It is nearly impossible to tell if drugs have been laced with fentanyl without the use of fentanyl test strips because fentanyl cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted.