How Can You Tell if Drugs are Laced with Fentanyl?

07 Feb How Can You Tell if Drugs are Laced with Fentanyl?

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If you watch the news, you’ve likely heard about the dangers of fentanyl and fentanyl laced drugs (such as fentanyl laced cocaine). You’ve probably also heard phrases such as “opioid epidemic” thrown around.

The truth remains that we do have an opioid epidemic in American and that synthetic opiates (such as fentanyl) are the leading cause. If you’re skeptical about the claim of an epidemic, we have some startling statistics for you.

According to CNN, there was a 75 percent spike in deaths involving a synthetic opioid between 2014 and 2015. That means that in just one year, there were 75 percent more synthetic opioid-related deaths.

Many experts agree that this massive jump is in large part due to fentanyl. This is because fentanyl is an extremely powerful opiate.

In fact, fentanyl is known to be between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Even more alarming is the fact that fentanyl doesn’t have to be ingested via the normal ingestion pathways. In fact, fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin or breathed in accidentally.

We hope we’ve convinced you that fentanyl and fentanyl laced drugs are a huge concern.  We also hope to convince you that by avoiding illicit drugs, you can be safe from the dangers that fentanyl poses.

In this article we’ll discuss:

  • What fentanyl is, how it’s used, and why it’s so dangerous.
  • Some drugs that are known to be laced with fentanyl.
  • The dangers fentanyl laced drugs pose to individuals and society.

If you or someone you know is going through a drug addiction, contact one of our recovery specialists today. Our recovery specialists are totally confidential and will help set you up on the road to a healthy recovery.

What is Fentanyl?

Put simply, fentanyl is a synthetic opiate used as a prescription painkiller. Fentanyl comes in an injectable form, as a lozenge or lollipop, and as a time-released patch, among other forms.

The fentanyl you hear about making its way into street drugs is manufactured in illicit labs and sold on the black market. It’s illegal to make, sell, and possess fentanyl that isn’t prescribed by a doctor.

Generally, black market fentanyl comes as a white powder, making it nearly indistinguishable from other popular street drugs, such as cocaine and heroin.

This is one of the reasons fentanyl is so dangerous. Someone taking fentanyl laced cocaine, for example, may not have any idea it contains the dangerous synthetic opiate.

You may be wondering, “But why is fentanyl considered to be so dangerous.” We’ll cover that in the section below.

Why is Fentanyl so Dangerous?

The simple fact remains, fentanyl is so dangerous because it’s extremely potent and hard to detect in other drugs. In fact, fentanyl is so potent, that it’s lethal in doses as low as 2 milligrams, according to USA Today.

In addition, fentanyl is dangerous because it’s cheap, readily available, and easy to make and smuggle. At this point, you may be asking yourself, “how can you tell if drugs are laced with fentanyl?”

The truth is that you really can’t. In fact, that’s one of the things that makes fentanyl extremely dangerous.

And if you’re wondering how much fentanyl is actually coming into the country, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that drug seizures laced with fentanyl rose by over 400 percent between 2013 and 2014. This is proof that fentanyl has been flooding the American drug market in the past years.

In addition, the signs and symptoms of fentanyl abuse are similar to other opiates, such as heroin. This means that you may not be able to tell if a loved one is using fentanyl.

If you’re wondering what some of the symptoms of fentanyl use are, we’ve laid them out below:

  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Withdrawing from social activities & situations
  • Suspicious or secretive behavior
  • Shallow, labored breathing
  • Nausea
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Inability to focus
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia

Many of the above are from the physical and chemical effects of the drug, while others are the social effects. For example, an addict withdrawing from social activities may be doing so in an effort to not get caught rather than from the drug itself.

In addition to the above symptoms, there are also some well-known long-term effects from fentanyl use. These include:

  • A diminishment of successful interpersonal relationships
  • Acute and chronic health problems
  • Diminished performance at work or school
  • Financial distress
  • Dramatic and sometimes violent mood swings
  • Hopelessness, despair, and other psychological issues
  • Depression and/or suicidal tendencies

With all the issues associated with fentanyl, you may be wondering why it’s on the streets in the first place. In other words, why have drug dealers begun using this extremely dangerous drug?

We’ll get into that below.

Why is Fentanyl Used?

Originally, fentanyl was created as a potent painkiller, similar to morphine. However, drug dealers like to use it not for its medical benefits, but for its potency and the ability to smuggle it easily.

In addition, fentanyl is readily available. For example, to make heroin, one needs to grow and process poppy plants. On the other hand, fentanyl can be created in a laboratory, meaning it’s cheaper and easier to obtain. For more information, check out our Heroin Vs Fentanyl blog.

This means that fentanyl is often manufactured in China or Mexico and imported into the US. In fact, the Washington Post has reported that dealers have been known to smuggle fentanyl into America using the US Postal Service.

But in most cases, fentanyl isn’t being used knowingly, and generally, it’s not being used by itself. This is because many drug dealers are cutting other drugs with fentanyl in an attempt to make more money.

Though any drug has the potential to be cut with fentanyl, some drugs are more commonly found laced with the synthetic opiate than others.

In the next section, we’ll cover some street drugs that are known to be cut with fentanyl.

What Drugs are Being Cut With Fentanyl

So you may be wondering, “What are the different types of fentanyl terrorizing Georgia?

In reality, any drug can be cut with fentanyl. This is due to the minuscule amount of the drug needed to give an effect and because fentanyl is hard to detect white powder.

However, there are a few drugs that are found laced with fentanyl more so than others. These include:

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Black market and counterfeit prescription medications

But not all drugs laced with fentanyl carry the same risk. Because this is all occurring on the black market, the purity and amount of fentanyl used can vary widely.

In addition, fentanyl carries different risks depending on which drug it’s laced with.

For example, fentanyl laced marijuana may not pose as big of a risk as fentanyl laced heroin. However, this doesn’t mean fentanyl laced marijuana is safe. Any drug laced with fentanyl poses a serious risk.

In the section below, we’ll cover some of the risks of mixing fentanyl with other drugs.

Dangers of Fentanyl Laced Drugs

The truth is, fentanyl can be hidden in plain sight. This only increases the dangers associated with it.

As we mentioned above, one of the leading dangers of fentanyl laced drugs comes in the form of counterfeit prescription medication.

For example, it’s known that an overwhelming percentage of the popular anti-anxiety medication Xanax that’s sold on the streets is cut with fentanyl. This is extremely dangerous because the user has no idea how much fentanyl is in each pill, so may take a lethal or dangerous dose.

In addition, the combination of Xanax and fentanyl can cause vomit-induced asphyxiation. In other words, the user is so “passed out” they can throw up in their sleep and choke themselves to death.

This may sound crazy, but a number of famous musicians have died this way from overdosing illicit drugs or alcohol.

Opiates Laced With Fentanyl

Other counterfeit prescription pills are also commonly cut with fentanyl, such as opiate painkillers.

When fentanyl is used to cut an opioid painkiller, the risk of drug overdose or another complication skyrockets. This is because all opiates act on the central nervous system.

So when you take multiple opiates, your risk of overdose and death increases, even at smaller doses.

But this risk is also true for other forms of illicit opiates, such as heroin. In fact, many heroin users inject “black tar” heroin, a very impure form of heroin.

Because black tar heroin is generally a low potency, users may inject a large amount. This can be fatal if the heroin has been cut with even a small amount of fentanyl.

The scary part is, you just never know what the drugs you buy will be laced with. In fact, even the dealer you buy from may not know.

But opiates don’t pose the only risk when it comes to fentanyl. In the next section, we’ll cover the dangers of mixing stimulants, such as cocaine, with a powerful opiate like fentanyl.

Fentanyl Laced Stimulants

Though fentanyl is commonly thought of as a cut for opiates, more recently law enforcement officials have been finding samples of cocaine laced with fentanyl.

Generally, when a stimulant such as cocaine is mixed with a depressant like fentanyl, the result is called a “speedball”. Speedballs are known to be extremely dangerous and have a huge risk of overdose and death.

In fact, there have been quite a few celebrities who have famously died from this lethal combination.

However, when it comes to fentanyl laced cocaine, the intent may be a lot more sinister than just wanting to get high. This is because it isn’t generally the end user cutting their cocaine with fentanyl, but the dealer.

The reason the dealer puts fentanyl in stimulants like cocaine is to increase the addiction potential. While true cocaine can be extremely habit forming on its own, when mixed with fentanyl it becomes much more likely to get a user hooked.

But there are more problems than just the increased addiction potential. Because cocaine is a stimulant and fentanyl is a depressant, they have opposite effects on the nervous system.

This is dangerous on its own and can cause overdoses at much lower doses. In addition, because the user may feel less of the effects because of the counteractive nature of the drugs, they may attempt to take more.

Obviously, this only raises the risk of complications such as overdose.

The fact remains, when it comes to white powder drugs like cocaine, there’s really no way to tell if it has been cut with fentanyl.

That’s why it’s always best to just say no.

In Summary

Taking any form of illicit drug is bad, but now that our streets have been flooded with highly dangerous drugs laced with fentanyl, taking an illicit drug can easily become fatal.

If you or a loved one is experiencing a drug addiction, call our recovery specialists at (678) 671-3929 today.

They’ll guide you in making the correct decision to get you or your loved one on the road to recovery.

It’s never easy to ask for help or to confront a loved one, but in the end, you could save a life.

To review, we covered:

  • How fentanyl has been a major factor in the current opioid epidemic in America.
  • What fentanyl is, why it’s dangerous, and why it’s commonly found in other illicit drugs.
  • Some drugs commonly found laced with fentanyl and why the interactions may be dangerous.

If you or someone you know has taken fentanyl, you may want to learn more by reading about Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms.

In addition, you should never hesitate to call one our recovery specialists. The calls are confidential and designed to give you insight into the best direction to take.

Our recovery specialists can be reached at (678) 671-3929.

It’s been proven that recovering drug users overcome their addictions at a much higher rate of success when backed by the support of an experienced drug treatment center.

For more information, visit our fentanyl page or check out 15 Facts About Fentanyl.


“What Does Fentanyl Taste Like?” The Recovery Village. 15 Mar. 2019.

Korte, Kameron. “Fentanyl-Laced Drugs (Cocaine, Weed, More) How Common Is It?” Delphi. 15 Mar. 2019.

“Cocaine Laced With Fentanyl Leads to Multiple Deaths, Overdoses.” DEA. 14 Sep. 2018. 15 Mar. 2019.

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