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4 Out of Every 10 Fake Pills with Fentanyl Contain a Potentially Lethal Dose

According to DEA Lab Tests

What Every Parent Needs to Know About Fake Pills

March 28, 2023

A Public Safety Alert by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Sept. 2022

Fentanyl is a deadly synthetic opioid that is being pressed into fake pills or cut into heroin, cocaine, and other street drugs to drive addiction. Fentanyl is 50x more potent than heroin.

What are fake pills?

The Sinaloa Cartel and Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion are making fentanyl and pressing it into fake pills. Fake pills are made to look like OxyContin®, Xanax®, Adderall®, and other pharmaceuticals. These fake pills contain no legitimate medicine. Fentanyl is also made in a rainbow of colors so it looks like candy.


Why is fentanyl so dangerous?

DEA lab testing reveals that four out of every ten fake pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose.

What are the physical and mental effects of fentanyl? Fentanyl use can cause confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, changes in pupil size, cold and clammy skin, coma, and respiratory failure leading to death.

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How could my child get fentanyl?

Drug traffickers are using social media to advertise drugs and conduct sales. If you have a smartphone and a social media account, then a drug trafficker can find you. This also means they are finding your kids who have social media accounts.

To learn about emoji codes used on social media, visit Emoji Drug Code Decoded on www.dea.gov/onepill or visit our previous blog post:

Why you should be concerned. The drug landscape is dramatically different from when you grew up, or even from just a few years ago. All parents and caregivers need to be educated on current drug threats to be able to have informed talks with their kids.

Tips for Parents and Caregivers

  • Encourage open and honest communication
  • Explain what fentanyl is and why it is so dangerous
  • Stress not to take any pills that were not prescribed to you from a doctor
  • No pill purchased on social media is safe
  • Make sure they know fentanyl has been found in most illegal drugs
  • Create an “exit plan” to help your child know what to do if they’re pressured to take a pill or use drugs

For more tips on how to talk to your child about drugs, read Chapter 4 of Growing Up Drug Free: A Parent's Guide to Substance Use Prevention.