Summer is here! Concerts, county fairs and parties are back after more than a year of social distancing and isolation. For some people, the recreational use and misuse of prescription medications is part of the summer party experience. Unfortunately, if you get a pill online or from a friend of a friend, it is likely counterfeit and contains fentanyl — which is deadly. The pills are probably not what you think they are.
Two commonly misused and abused prescription drugs are oxycodone (found in brand name opioids like Percocet® and OxyContin®) and alprazolam (brand name is Xanax®). OxyContin, also called oxy or perc, affects the brain quicker than other prescription opioids, potentially giving a stronger, faster desired euphoric effect. The drug may be ingested or crushed and snorted.
(Source: Department of Justice (Justice.gov))
Alprozolam (Xanax), often called “zannies,” is a benzodiazepine sedative that is misused and abused by teens and young adults. This drug is a highly addictive. Because of the popularity of the drug for recreational use, misuse and abuse, it is highly counterfeited and sold illegally online and on the street.
(Source: CBS San Francisco)
The sale of counterfeit prescription medications containing fentanyl is not new, but it is contributing to overdoses in Illinois and across the nation. These overdoses can be deadly. They can harm or injury to anyone and do not discriminate by age or socioeconomic status.
- Demi Lovato, Tom Petty and other celebrities have overdosed and/or died from the use of “prescription” products.
- Young people who are not regular opioid users are especially susceptible to the effects of fake pills containing fentanyl.
- Data from San Diego show that counterfeit pills account for the majority of opioid overdose deaths.
According to a 2021 DEA release, Mexican drug cartels are meeting the U.S. demand for prescription drug abuse by manufacturing mass quantities of counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl. These pills can be oxycodone, alprazolam, Adderall® and others.
- Counterfeit pills often appear identical to legitimate prescription drugs, but they contain none of the promised drug they resemble. If you take one of these pills, you may be ingesting or snorting fentanyl.
- Pressing counterfeit pills containing fentanyl is not an exact science. On average, a counterfeit pill contains 1.8 milligrams of fentanyl. However, DEA analysis has found counterfeit pills ranging from .02 to 5.1 milligrams (more than twice the lethal limit) of fentanyl per tablet.
- One out of four counterfeit pills contained a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl. That means you have a 25% chance of dying when misusing a fake pill for recreational purposes.
If you purchase prescription drugs from the internet, social media or a friend, remember: One Pill Can Kill.
Here are some important safety tips:
- Do not take prescription drugs that are not provided by your physician, pharmacist or other healthcare provider.
- Make sure that naloxone is available for people who may ingest or snort prescription drugs from non-medical sources. Naloxone is the reversal agent for opioid overdose and can work for individuals who have overdosed on fentanyl.
- Call 911 when there is an overdose: Rapid care is essential to the care and recovery of someone who has overdosed on fentanyl. The Emergency Medical Services Access Law or the Illinois’ “Good Samaritan Law” allows individuals to seek emergency medical help for an overdose without risking criminal liability for possession.
Please celebrate summer safely.
As always, if you have any questions, let us know in the comment box below or contact us at IPCadmin@team-iha.org.
Click here to request a free IPC safety packet (with sticker/magnet) for yourself or other(s) or here or free online Poison Prevention Education Course and materials.