Deadly Fentanyl Can Now be Found Just About Anywhere


There’s one thing you can be sure of when it comes to the illicit drug market: It always changes. A drug that someone has been using for years could be replaced with a markedly different substance without warning. The user doesn’t know and neither does the dealer. Formulas change at the whim of the chemists far up the supply chain. Right now, these chemists and drug traffickers are playing a game of Russian Roulette with their customers by throwing cheap, easy-to-make fentanyl into unexpected places. Sometimes these unpredictable mixtures have deadly results.

Where is Fentanyl Being Found?

chart comparing strengths of opioid painkillers

Initially, fentanyl was being mixed into heroin supplies to provide a bigger, more sought-after high for customers at a lower cost for the drug dealer. Chemically, it’s a similar to heroin but much more powerful. (See the chart to compare fentanyl to heroin or morphine.)

But because a drug dealer is in no way a competent pharmacist, the mixture might be uneven. One bag of the resulting mix might be relatively safe for an experienced user and another might be so hot that it results in instantaneous death.

It wasn’t long before fentanyl was being found pressed into pills meant to resemble pharmaceutical drugs like OxyContin. Here too, unreliable manufacturing methods could mean death for a consumer.

Some drug dealers also offer straight fentanyl which is in demand by drug users willing to take a serious risk.

In all these ways fentanyl has been sold, the buyer at least knows he is getting an opioid. He won’t know if it is weak or strong but at least knows what its possible effects are. The newest places fentanyl is being found have nothing to do with opioids.

  • Three people died in North Carolina after using cocaine that turned out to be mixed with fentanyl.
  • In North Dakota, fentanyl was found in marijuana supplies, sending one man to the hospital when he felt sick after a couple of hits.
  • Fentanyl has also been made into counterfeit Xanax bars, leading people to take a powerful opioid when they think they are getting an anti-anxiety pill.
  • With pills sold in nightclubs as Ecstasy, one never knows what the ingredients are. Fentanyl-laced Ecstasy was suspected in a fatal overdose in a Toronto club in April 2017.

Synthetic Drugs and Constantly Changing Formulas

There are plenty of drug users who enjoy experimenting with synthetic stimulants, hypnotics or hallucinogens. There are hundreds of formulas in existence now and more being added all the time. Unscrupulous chemists invent new formulas in part because of the precursor chemicals they can lay their hands on and in part as an attempt to circumvent laws. If they devise a new formula that is just a few molecules different from one that has been outlawed, they might be able to sell it for a while without risking arrest.

Legislators and drug enforcement personnel are hard-pressed to keep up with this constantly shifting industry. The big loser is, of course, the person who thinks he knows what he bought—but instead gets a drug that will kill him.

The only safety these days is in sobriety. Often, a person who risks his life using these unpredictable drugs thinks that his life after rehab will be dull and joyless. It is our experience that when a person can recover from the toxic effects of drugs and learn to see his world with a new freshness, there is hope for enjoyment and pleasure once again.

For more than fifty years, the Narconon drug rehab program has been returning individuals to productive, enjoyable lives. We can help someone you care about who has lost the battle with addiction. Call today to learn more about how we help. After all, it is simply too life-threatening out there to wait a single day.


Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.