By: Zinnia Healing Editorial Staff | Edited By: Rebecca Hill
Identifying Fentanyl, Addiction and Treatment Options
Fentanyl is used to treat severe pain under prescription names like Sublimaze, but it’s also sold on the street, where it can look like a variety of other drugs. Real fentanyl is up to 100x stronger than morphine, which is one reason why it’s so dangerous. However, there’s been a surge of fake fentanyl on the recreational market in recent years, which has contributed to fentanyl-related overdose deaths being on the rise. Here’s what you need to know about identifying fentanyl.
Illicit fentanyl is never safe. If you or a loved one needs help with addiction treatment, Zinnia Healing can help. Dial (855) 430-9439 for answers to your questions.
Why is Fake Fentanyl So Dangerous?
Fake fentanyl comes in many forms. Sometimes, it is a mixture of drugs, like methamphetamine or other opioids, that have been processed to look like fentanyl. In these cases, the danger is that you have no idea what you’re taking or how much. Fake fentanyl can also be packaged to look like the prescription form of the drug, which is sometimes marketed toward people who are taking prescription opioids but trying to find a cheaper source on the illicit drug market.
The primary reason why fake fentanyl is so dangerous is that there’s no way to know for sure what’s inside. Even if you can confirm the presence of fentanyl, you don’t know how much the drug contains. This is critical as just 2 milligrams (the equivalent of a few grains of salt) can kill a person, even someone who has built up a tolerance to opioids.
The prevalence of fake fentanyl has led public health organizations like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to issue statements on how to identify it.
How to Recognize Real Fentanyl
There are many different types of fentanyl, which is one reason why it can be hard to recognize. Illicit fentanyl often comes as a powder or liquid. In liquid form, fentanyl is completely colorless and it may be packaged as eye drops or nasal spray, which is how it’s meant to be administered. In powdered form, real fentanyl should be white. It can resemble heroin, cocaine, or meth.
Fentanyl found on the illegal drug market is rarely pure. To help cover up the impurities, and make it more appealing to young adults, fentanyl powder is often processed into rainbow-colored powder, cubes, or pills. The colors are often blue, greenish, or a range of pale colors. Sometimes the pills will be marked with K9, 215, v48, or M30.
It’s critical to recognize that any multi-colored fentanyl is probably not pure. The only way to guarantee that you’re getting real fentanyl is to get it through your healthcare provider. Any fentanyl sold on the illegal market could contain a mixture of opioids in unknown quantities, potentially leading to accidental overdose.
Don’t put yourself at risk of an opioid overdose. If you’re looking to quit fentanyl, Zinnia Healing can help. Call our helpline at (855) 430-9439 to get started.
Using Fentanyl Test Strips
As part of a harm reduction campaign, many cities and states have made fentanyl test strips available to the public. These test strips are often available for free through a source like a local syringe exchange site. Using them is simple as all you need to do is crush up some of the pill, add it to water, dip the test strip in the water for 10-15 seconds, and then check for the results in about five minutes. One line indicates fentanyl was detected, while two means it was not.
These test strips can help you confirm whether or not a drug contains fentanyl, but they cannot tell you in what quantity or if other drugs are present. With that in mind, fentanyl test strips do two jobs very well: If they detect fentanyl in an opioid that wasn’t supposed to contain it, you know not to take it. Likewise, if they do not detect fentanyl when you were told you are getting fentanyl, you should discard it immediately.
It’s important to note that these test strips are not 100% accurate. They may also be unable to detect fentanyl-like drugs like carfentanil, which are just as, if not more, potent.
Precautions to Take When Using Fentanyl
While the goal of the drug policy being developed by organizations like the DEA is to ultimately get drugs off the street, they care more about preventing drug overdoses even in those who participate in recreational substance use. This is why, to fight the opioid crisis, the DEA and CDC have made a number of recommendations to help lower your risk of overdose.
In addition to using fentanyl test strips, the government recommends you:
- Understand the silent signs of an opioid overdose, which often leads to a person falling asleep and going limp. Always call a medical professional right away if someone is experiencing an overdose.
- Carry naloxone with you anytime you are taking opioids. The injection can be lifesaving when administered at the right moment.
- If you are using synthetic opioids for pain relief, talk to your doctor to get a referral or prescription for a safer solution.
- If you need help dealing with drug addiction, there are resources out there to assist you past the withdrawal symptoms and detox process so that you can live a clean and sober life.
How Zinnia Healing Can Help
Fentanyl is an extremely potent opioid that can be deadly even if you are taking the real thing. If you or someone you love is currently dealing with a substance use disorder, just know that you don’t have to face it alone. With the right help, anyone can overcome opioid addiction and stay clean for good.
At Zinnia Healing, we offer:
- Customized treatment plans
- Proven recovery pathways
- Advanced support techniques
- A judgment-free environment
- Caring staff and a confidential facility
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment. Let a recovery specialist help you find the path that’s right for you.
If you’re ready to take the next step toward addiction treatment, let Zinnia Healing help. Call our helpline anytime, day or night, at (855) 430-9439 for more information.