Nowadays, more and more reports of drugs laced with fentanyl are surfacing. Fentanyl is a highly potent opioid drug that’s used recreationally for the euphoric high it produces. However, as one of the more potent drugs of its class, fentanyl, is fatal when taken in doses larger than two milligrams. Despite this risk, many dealers are using this and other substances to lace their drugs. But why? Why do people lace drugs at all?
What Are Laced Drugs?
Lacing is the act of adding one or more substances to another. This means that laced drugs are drugs that contain one or more other substances or additives. Some street drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine are laced with other chemicals and drugs for various reasons. On the other hand, these drugs – along with LSD – are used for lacing other substances, as well.
One of the most common substances used to lace drugs is fentanyl. For the past few years, fentanyl has been used to lace cocaine, meth, heroin, and even fake weed (K2 or spice). As a result, more and more reports of fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths have taken over news feeds in the past decade.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s typically used to treat patients with severe and chronic pain following an operation or surgery. Fentanyl is a schedule II substance that’s 100 times more potent than morphine, another narcotic. As a Schedule II controlled substance, fentanyl is recognized for both its medical use and its high potential for abuse and addiction.
Illicit fentanyl is usually made in foreign laboratories and smuggled into the United States through Mexico. It’s then distributed throughout the country through the illegal drug market. Due to its potency and low cost, fentanyl makes for the lacing drug of choice among dealers.
Why Do Drug Dealers Lace Drugs?
Drug dealers lace drugs to bulk up the product and make cheaper drugs appear more legitimate. This allows drug dealers to make more profit from less “legitimate” products. Drug dealers also lace drugs with more addictive substances like fentanyl to make their products more potent and more addicting.
As a result, users are more likely to return to the drug dealer, which keeps the latter’s revenue flowing. Lacing drugs is a cheaper form of production for dealers, and synthetic drugs are cheaper than the real thing. For these reasons, more and more drug dealers are lacing their products, contributing to an increased rate of fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths.
Side Effects of Laced Drugs
Drug dealers often sell what they tell users are legitimate prescription drugs as powders, nasal sprays, or powders pressed into pills. However, because there’s no official oversight or quality control, these counterfeit pills often contain lethal doses of drugs like fentanyl with none of the promised drugs.
There’s a significant risk of obtaining what are actually lethal doses of fentanyl when buying prescription drugs on the street. Individuals with opioid addictions are especially at risk, considering that many of these individuals originally became addicted to prescription opioids. What happens to many opioid addicts is that they’ll turn to cheaper and more accessible alternatives like heroin to get high.
Opioid-addicted individuals and people who use cocaine and methamphetamine are at an increased risk of ingesting fatal doses of fentanyl. As we mentioned, 2 mg of fentanyl can be lethal, depending on the person’s body size. However, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has seized counterfeit pills that contained .02 to 5.1 mg of fentanyl per pill; that’s more than twice the lethal dose.1
But what are the risks of laced drugs? Common side effects of fentanyl include:
- Pain relief
- Impaired judgment
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Urinary retention
- Pinpoint pupils
Considering the risk of ingesting deadly amounts of fentanyl when using illicit drugs or buying drugs off the streets, it’s important to be aware of the signs of a fentanyl overdose, as well. These include:
- Changes in pupil size
- Cold and clammy skin
- Blue discoloration of the skin and lips
- Respiratory failure
Opioids like fentanyl act as central nervous system (CNS) depressants, slowing down functions like heart rate and breathing. As a result, respiratory failure is the most common and deadliest symptom of a fentanyl overdose.
Help for Fentanyl Abuse and Addiction
Drug trafficking organizations usually distribute fentanyl by the kilogram. According to the DEA, one kilogram of fentanyl is enough to kill 500,000 people.1 It’s possible for a person who buys drugs on the street to take a pill that contains fentanyl without knowing it. In fact, the outcome is so unpredictable that it could unknowingly be the last pill they ever take.
If you or someone you care about has a drug problem, our Palm Beach drug rehab can help. Whether it’s an addiction to fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, meth, or any other substance, our facility provides medically monitored detox and addiction treatment in a safe and judgment-free environment where clients can take the necessary steps towards a drug-free life.
For further information about our addiction treatment programs and holistic treatment options, contact Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches today at 561-220-3981. One of our specialists can help you get started.