What is Fentanyl​?​​

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. It was initially developed for medical use as a powerful pain reliever, typically administered through injection or transdermal patches for chronic pain management. However, illicitly manufactured fentanyl has become a major concern due to its widespread availability and involvement in overdose deaths.

Uses of Fentanyl

In a medical setting, fentanyl is primarily used to manage severe pain, such as pain associated with surgery, cancer, or trauma. It is also sometimes used as anesthesia during medical procedures due to its fast-acting and potent effects. Fentanyl is available in various formulations, including injectable solutions, transdermal patches, lozenges, and nasal sprays.

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​Illicit Fentanyl

Illicitly manufactured fentanyl, often referred to as counterfeit fentanyl, is produced and sold illegally on the black market. It is commonly mixed with other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or counterfeit prescription pills, often without the user's knowledge. This poses a significant risk of overdose, as users may consume lethal doses of fentanyl by mistake.

Risks and Effects

The potency of fentanyl makes it extremely dangerous, even in small amounts. The effects of fentanyl use can include:

  • Respiratory Depression: Fentanyl can cause severe respiratory depression, leading to slowed or stopped breathing, which can be fatal

  • Sedation and Confusion: Fentanyl use can cause extreme sedation, drowsiness, confusion, and impaired coordination.
  • Overdose: Due to its potency, even a small amount of fentanyl can lead to overdose, which can result in coma, permanent brain damage, or death.

Recognizing Fentanyl Overdose

Recognizing the signs of a fentanyl overdose is crucial for saving lives. Know the signs of an opioid overdose and what to do.

Staying Safe

To reduce the risk of fentanyl-related harm:
  • Avoid Illicit Drugs: Refrain from using illicit drugs, as they may contain unknown and potentially lethal amounts of fentanyl.
  • Test Your Drugs: Use fentanyl and xylazine test strips to determine if those drugs are present. Learn where to get free test strips in Kane County, and how to use test strips.
  • Seek Help: If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, seek help from a healthcare professional, addiction specialist, or support group.
  • Carry Naloxone: If you or someone you know is at risk of opioid overdose, consider carrying naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medication, and learn how to use it. Get naloxone.
  • Don't use alone: Never Use Alone Hotline (800-484-3731)