Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid painkiller, is 100 times more powerful than morphine. It’s used to treat pain in its prescription form, but is also made illegally and distributed as a street drug.

Fake fentanyl is sold as a powder or made into pills that look like real prescription pills like Adderall, Xanax, Percocet, or OxyContin and oxycodone. Often, it’s not possible to distinguish the counterfeit medications from the real ones.

Fentanyl is tasteless, odorless, and too small to see. A dose the size of two grains of salt can cause an overdose. Long before they reach the friends, dealers, and friends-of-friends that teens might trust to supply them, substances are laced with fentanyl. And fentanyl can be anywhere, as distribution in pills and powders is wildly random. While one pill might not be deadly, another one could be.

People at highest risk of overdose and fatality are those who unknowingly take fentanyl.

How do you know which pills are safe? Only drugs obtained from a licensed pharmacist are safe.

Though similar in effects to other opioids, fentanyl’s extremely high potency makes it the most commonly used drug involved in overdoses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

health risks of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin or morphine. It is a Schedule II prescription drug used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery.

It is relatively cheap to produce so dealers use it to improve their bottom line. Fentanyl is being cut into heroin and other street drugs and being pressed into pills that resemble OxyContin, Xanax, hydrocodone and other sought-after drugs.

Even if someone could tell a product had been laced with fentanyl, it may not prevent their use. Some people claim they can tell the difference between a product that has been laced with fentanyl and that which hasn’t, but overdose statistics say otherwise.


Do you think I would actually use fentanyl?
Orange County is facing a big increase in fentanyl overdoses. Drug dealers are preying on the teens in our community—this isn’t just happening in other places. That’s why I want to talk to you about making safe choices.
You don’t say anything when Itake my prescription medicine.
That’s because only medications from a pharmacy are safe. It’s not safe to take anything you get from a friend or you buy anywhere other than a pharmacy, even if you think you know what type of drug it is. Never take a prescription medicine that’s not prescribed to you or a pill that is not in its original packaging.
What should I do if one of my friends is overdosing or in distress?
You should call 911 immediately. The Good Samaritan Law allows people to call 911 to get help for others who are overdosing without fear of being arrested for having or using drugs.