Penny in relation to fentanyl
Screenshot from DEA resource

Many of our readers are aware of the huge toll that the drug fentanyl is taking on families throughout our country and especially in the Philadelphia region.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can prove to be deadly to those that ingest it, or even come into contact with it, in amounts as small as two milligrams (equal to 10-15 grains of salt). (See photo).

Pharmaceutical fentanyl can be legally prescribed in the United States to fight extreme pain, often associated with cancer treatment, however, its use requires careful monitoring by a physician.

Most of the illegal fentanyl plaguing our nation is believed to be made with ingredients imported from China to Mexico, where it is processed and distributed by Mexican drug cartels.

Fentanyl has been shown to be 50 times more powerful than heroin.

It is now found in almost all of the heroin supply in the Philadelphia region and has been found to be involved in almost all (94% in 2020) of the drug overdose deaths in the region.

Fentanyl has not only been found in heroin but in other drugs as well. Other drugs including counterfeit Xanax and other types of pills, cocaine, and methamphetamine have been found to be laced with fentanyl.

An especially disturbing trend has seen fentanyl pills produced in “rainbow” colors resembling candy. (See photo). Fentanyl is also packaged in powder form or “bricks” resembling sidewalk chalk.

Another disturbing trend is reflected in statistics that show although overall drug use among teens in the United States has shown to be declining in recent years, the number of overdose deaths has risen. This trend is believed to be related to the inclusion of fentanyl in recreational drugs, often without the knowledge of the user.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that the following actions be taken to fight the spread of fentanyl-related deaths in the United States.

  • Expand distribution and use of naloxone and overdose prevention education
  • Expand awareness about and access to and availability of treatment for substance use disorders
  • Intervene early with individuals at highest risk for overdose
  • Improve detection of overdose outbreaks to facilitate more effective response
Fentanyl pills look like candy
Screenshot from DEA resource

On April 7, 2021 the CDC and SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) announced that federal funds can be used to purchase rapid fentanyl test strips which can detect the presence of fentanyl in other substances. On October 26, 2022 the Pennsylvania State Senate unanimously passed the Fentanyl Test Strip/Drug Checking Bill that made it legal for individuals to possess and use fentanyl test strips throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. On November 3, 2022 Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill into law.

To learn more about fentanyl poisoning and counterfeit pills click here. To receive free Naloxone and Fentanyl Test Strips for free in a confidential mailing click here.

How To Use Fentanyl Test Strips