The Lethal Impact of Counterfeit Pills and How to Get Help

Imagine being the victim of a painful accident who is self-medicating – or even someone who has substance use issues with opioids but avoids the epidemic of deadly street drugs by making prescription pills their drug of choice. Enter deadly fentapills.

Assuming they have their habit under control because they’re able to dodge the dangers of illicit fentanyl, this particular category of drug user almost carries a chip on their shoulder because, in their eyes, prescription opioids aren’t as bad as heroin – the latter of which is hardly present in bags marketed as such, becoming obsolete because of the cheap costs of fentanyl for high-level street suppliers.

You take your normal dose – nothing major – something as even small as 5 to 10 mg. Before you can even gather yourself, you’re sweating profusely and can barely keep your eyes open. If you’re lucky, you’ll wake up to a team of paramedics or physicians by your side. The sad fact is – most people who purchase fake prescription pills marketed as the real deal don’t get that lucky.

Keep reading to learn about the very real dangers of illicit fentapills, and get information about the effective fentanyl rehab programs offered at Catalina if these fake ‘blues’ have become a reality for you or a loved one.

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Synthetic Opioids and Fake Prescription Pills

In recent years, a deeply concerning and deadly trend has emerged within the realm of opioid misuse and addiction – the emergence of fake prescription pills within the street drug supply. They’re not fake in the sense that they don’t work – in fact, they work too well.

Instead of the normal ingredients such as oxycodone, hydrocodone or Percocet, and other non and partially-synthetic opiates, these fake pills are, in some cases, loaded down with nothing but pure illicit fentanyl. These fake pills are changing the drug landscape, leading to an entirely new demographic of users exposed to a deadly dose – and frequently unaware that even the most minute amount is leading to unprecedented amounts of drug-related deaths.

Most people who use prescription pain medication are used to receiving a measured dose. In addition, they’re used to receiving the same exact substance each time they partake. Ingesting one of these fake pills comprised of illicit fentanyl is like playing a game of Russian Roulette.

It Only Takes One Fake Prescription Pill to Kill

 Fake Prescription

Fentanyl, an incredibly potent synthetic opioid, is estimated to be up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and about 50 times more potent than heroin. In the past, illicit fentanyl purchased via China was shipped to the United States and infused into the heroin supply to make the product stronger and increase dealer profits.

However, as Mexican Cartels began producing the fentanyl themselves in labs in Mexico, requiring only the precursor chemicals from China, production increased exponentially, and prices dropped. Now, these synthetic opioids are being pressed into carbon copies, creating exact look-a-like counterfeit prescription drugs.

The Centers for Disease Control have described this as the deadliest time in modern history to be addicted to painkillers, with more Americans dying over a 12-month span than ever before due largely to fentanyl.

A Tainted Drug Supply as Fake Pills Flood the US

Presently, the drug landscape has changed so much – that we’re seeing the same trend with fentanyl pills that we witnessed with heroin. Initially, heroin laced with fentanyl was considered undesirable because of its deadly risks. As the majority of those addicted began building a tolerance to fentanyl, heroin has slowly been replaced by fentanyl as the preferred substance.

Now high-level dealers aren’t masking the fact that pills are pressed with fentanyl, as people are openly requesting them because it’s become accepted as the standard by drug dealers.

Massive bags of fentapills, most commonly fashioned to look like Oxycodone 30 MG, which are normally blue, now come in giant rainbow-colored assorted bags – containing little to no Oxycodone at all.

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A Huge Spike In Drug Deaths Due to Illicit Fentanyl

The rise in deaths attributed to fentanyl-laced pain medication is nothing short of staggering. Reports from health agencies and law enforcement have highlighted a substantial spike in overdose-related fatalities. The deceptive allure of these pills, often resembling legitimate pain medication, has contributed to a false sense of safety, catching users off guard and leading to tragic consequences.

The rise in this drug has led to huge numbers of fentanyl arrests, even for recreational users, and with very little effective treatment programs in place to help those who are seeking recovery.

Other users who are aware of the presence of fentanyl are still at risk of receiving a deadly dose. Public health warnings have been issued regarding the presence of “hot spots” in these knock-off street drugs. Hot spots occur when the dealer doesn’t mix the fentanyl well enough with any other cutting agent or filler that’s been combined to fill out the remaining space left in a pill press.

Playing Russian Roullete with Each Purchase

For example, if a dealer buys enough wholesale fentanyl to create 1,000 pills, he could easily combine this with filler and create 4,000. Hot spots are portions of the pill that have higher concentrations of fentanyl, leading to a much higher dose overall than would be expected from a single ‘Percocet’ or ‘Oxycodone.’

In this way, even for the most seasoned users, one fentanyl pill can easily prove lethal as an unregulated lab in Mexico has little control or oversight to produce a controlled dose.

What are the Typical Variations of Fentapills?

Typical Variations of Fentapills

Fentapills come in a range of forms, exacerbating the challenge of identifying and preventing their circulation. Various public health warning memos have circulated in an attempt to finger what some of these pills look like.

Despite these efforts, cartels with the ability to press their own pills easily allow them to be sold deceptively. Here are a few versions we know about that potentially have fentanyl as the active ingredient:

  1. Counterfeit Prescription Pills: Often designed to mimic legitimate prescription pain medication, these fentapills can deceive even experienced individuals. The resemblance to authentic pills makes it difficult for users to discern the dangerous contents. Many of these may still have varying amounts of oxycodone or otherwise, with traces of fentanyl to maximize their product.
  2. Illegitimate Street Pills: These pills may be sold illicitly on the streets, posing a grave threat to users who seek an opioid high. Their unpredictable potency significantly increases the risk of overdose. These pills are more crudely made and have some noticeable visual flaws but still may claim to be the real deal when they are in fact mostly fentanyl.
  3. Pure Fentanyl Pills: In some instances, pills may be composed entirely of fentanyl, presenting an extreme danger due to the drug’s potency. A minuscule amount of fentanyl can lead to a fatal overdose. We’ve seen these in mass with the rainbow pills described above.

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Slowing Down the Fentanyl Pill Crisis

Addressing the fentanyl-laced pain medication crisis requires a multi-pronged approach involving healthcare providers, law enforcement, policymakers, and communities:

  • Educate the public. Raising awareness about these pills among the medical industry and the average citizen will go a long way in mitigating much of the risk.
  • Stiffer sentencing. We’ve already seen many legal campaigns play out, charging those who distribute counterfeit fentanyl pills that cause death with murder.
  • Access to Naloxone: Many states and cities have active programs that distribute NarCan. However, the numbers are still low, and additional geographic regions must be on board.
  • Education through treatment. Treatment facilities like Catalina Behavioral Health make it a point to educate clients regarding the dangers of these pills.

Spreading Awareness and Supporting Recovery at Catalina

Supporting Recovery at Catalina

At Catalina Behavioral Health we understand that our duty to the communities we operate in spans further than just the treatment at our facilities. We actively attempt to spread awareness regarding matters on fentanyl and other dangerous trends in the world of substance abuse.

Our fentanyl addiction treatment and detox programs are available now, and we accept some forms of AHCCCS and many private health insurance options as well.

To find out more about how we can help you or someone you love struggling with counterfeit fentanyl pills, contact a member of our compassionate Admissions staff today.

All calls are confidential, so please reach out for support and options today!

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