In 2021, the drug-overdose death toll reached over 100,000 people and at least two-thirds of those deaths were caused by opioids like fentanyl. In the last few years, headlines have constantly mentioned the dangers and deaths caused by fentanyl, and for a good reason. Because it is almost 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than cocaine, fentanyl is not only known for its potency but also for its extreme deadliness. With a lethal dose of fentanyl being able to fit comfortably on the tip of a person’s pinky, in recent years the number of fentanyl overdoses has risen exponentially. Fentanyl comes in a variety of forms and can be easily concealed in other drugs. Being able to identify fentanyl can not only save a person’s life but also help to recognize when a person needs help and get the fentanyl addiction treatment they desperately need.
What Does Fentanyl Look & Taste Like?
Fentanyl was originally designed for medical use and has since been co-opted into the illicit drug trade. In its prescription form, fentanyl is given to a patient through injection, patches, or as a lozenge, and patients are carefully monitored for adverse reactions to the drug. That being said, the fentanyl that is currently flooding the illicit drug market is seldom obtained through prescription and can look very different from its legal counterpart.
On the street, fentanyl can be found in a variety of forms. On the market, fentanyl is often mixed with other illicit substances in order to make them more potent and therefore takes on the appearance of whatever substance it is mixed with. This means that fentanyl can look like powder, liquid, pills, tablets, oral strips, or even drops. The discrete nature of fentanyl is also a part of what makes it so deadly. Being it is so easily combined with other substances, there are many people who use fentanyl-laced drugs without knowing it and become addicted to fentanyl, or even overdose without ever having intended on trying it.
When fentanyl is sold on its own, it often looks like a white, tan, or brown powder, but the color does not affect the purity, effectiveness, or taste of the drug. Fentanyl does not have a specific taste and will take on the taste of whatever it is mixed with. There are however anecdotal claims that fentanyl has a distinctly sweet taste in comparison to heroin’s bitterness.
Different Types Of Fentanyl
There are two main types of fentanyl that are manufactured: illicitly manufactured fentanyl and pharmaceutically manufactured fentanyl. As the names suggest, the primary difference in these types of fentanyl is where and why they are produced. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is created in unregulated laboratories. This type of fentanyl does not have specific manufacturing, sanitation, or dosage regulations and is created for selling on the illegal drug market. Pharmaceutically manufactured fentanyl is created in regulated laboratories under specific health and safety guidelines and is often pre-measured in safe dosages. This type is created for prescription use in medical facilities and under doctor supervision.
It should also be noted that there is a subcategory of both pharmaceutically and illicitly manufactured fentanyl called “carfentanil.” Also a synthetic opioid, carfentanil is 100 times more potent than fentanyl. Carfentanil is more deadly than fentanyl and takes a fraction of the dosage of fentanyl to kill a person.
Official Brand Names Of Fentanyl
As fentanyl is used in the medical field, there are a number of fentanyl manufacturers who produce fentanyl under different brand names. Some of the most common pharmaceutical brands for fentanyl are Duragesic, Abstral, Subsys, and Ionsys. These brands are created for controlled pharmaceutical use, but that does not mean that they cannot fall into the wrong hands and become a part of the illicit fentanyl trade.
Other Names Fentanyl is Known by and Street Names
It is unlikely that a person buying fentanyl for non-pharmaceutical purposes will come across fentanyl being referred to by one of its brand names. Instead, there are several street names for the drug, including Apache, China Girl, Goodfella, China White, TNT, Friend, Dance Fever, and many more. These names are used to keep fentanyl production, movement, and sales covert from the time the fentanyl is made until it is sold on the street.
How Can I Avoid Fentanyl And Different Types
While avoiding drug use altogether is the best way to prevent fentanyl-related injuries, we understand that overcoming addiction is easier said than done for many people. So, if quitting substance use is not in the cards yet, there are a number of ways that you can mitigate the harm caused by fentanyl.
Never use alone: Many fentanyl overdose deaths happen to people who overdosed while alone and had nobody to get them help. While we do not condone using, we do encourage people to have a trusted person on whom they can rely to take care of them and getting them help should an emergency arise from drug use.
Take small doses: No matter what drug is being taken, taking small doses can be the difference between life and death if the drug is laced with fentanyl.
Avoid mixing drugs: Most illicitly manufactured drugs are created without precaution or regulation. This makes them risky on their own and even more risky when mixed. Because many dealers are mixing fentanyl with other drugs to increase potency and stretch products, many people do not even know they are taking fentanyl. By mixing drugs, a person doubles the chance of being exposed to fentanyl.
Know your source: While it is impossible to know most illicit drug sources, knowing as much as you safely can about the source of your substances can provide security and assurance that the products are not laced with fentanyl. However, it is vital never to forget that even your dealer may not know the source and composition of the drugs he sells.
Know how to use naloxone and keep it on hand: Despite the best efforts of many people, fentanyl use and overdose can accidentally happen. This is why it is important to know how to use medicines like naloxone and Narcan to help the person overdosing until medical help can be administered.
Get Treatment For Fentanyl Addiction
With fentanyl use disorders rising along with the number of fentanyl-related deaths, at Pinnacle Peak Recovery, we understand our role in helping those with fentanyl addictions and in reducing the number of fentanyl-related deaths. With our specialized programming and top-quality staff waiting to meet you or your loved one’s needs, there is no reason to wait to get help. You can call Pinnacle Peak Recovery at 866-377-4761 to discuss your treatment options with one of our judgment-free team members and begin your path to recovery today.
FAQs About the Identification of Fentanyl
How can you tell if a drug has fentanyl in it?
To know for certain whether or not a drug has fentanyl the drug would have to undergo a lab analysis. That being said, if a drug is unusually potent or leads to a quick overdose, it may have been laced with fentanyl.
What does fentanyl look like?
When it is raw, fentanyl looks like white, tan, or brown powder. When mixed with other drugs, fentanyl can look like pills, tablets, strips, drips, liquids, and more. Fentanyl appears like whatever drugs it is mixed with.
What are the two types of fentanyl?
The two types of fentanyl are illicit manufactured fentanyl and pharmaceutically manufactured fentanyl. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is created in unregulated labs for illegal sale. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is created for controlled medical use under strict guidelines. Both can be found on the illicit drug market, though.