Recognizing fentanyl-laced Xanax can be tough. The only sure way to do so is to test the drug by using a fentanyl testing kit.
Recognizing Fentanyl-Laced Xanax
The best way to avoid buying Xanax that has been adulterated with fentanyl is to use Xanax through lawful means. A prescription requires a legitimate reason for taking Xanax, and this may mean having to do without Xanax. Not everyone stays away from Xanax even when they should.
Per The Guardian, some counterfeit Xanax pill makers can convincingly make fake versions of any drug. They make the pills look like exact replicas. Health officials in Florida warn that people who make counterfeit pills often sell fentanyl to people who want to experiment with something much weaker.
It is not easy to simply “eyeball” fentanyl, but The Guardian reports that many dealers try to pass it off as another popular drug, such as Xanax or Norco. It may even be made to look like candy and sold with wrappers.
Harm reduction experts recommend testing all drugs bought on the street for fentanyl before use.
What is Xanax?
Alprazolam, better known as Xanax, is a benzodiazepine that provides a feeling of tranquility.
MedlinePlus states that Xanax is commonly used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It is legal, but also a controlled substance. The use of Xanax for recreational purposes is unlawful. Though this is the case, some people are familiar with the feelings Xanax provides, such as euphoria, and they may choose to experiment with it. Xanax is a popular drug sold on the black market, online, or at parties.
Xanax’s popularity is also worsened by its tendency to build tolerance in the people who take it consistently, increasing their chances of becoming dependent on the drug.
However, dealers and people who make counterfeit or illicitly produced Xanax tablets are not always aware of safe levels of Xanax. Even worse, some people add other substances to these counterfeit versions of Xanax, such as fentanyl.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a painkiller often used to treat pain in cancer patients. It is used along with other medications to treat pain.
The Guardian reports that fentanyl can be between 50 and 100 times stronger than morphine. Patients who are prescribed fentanyl to manage their pain are often told to keep naloxone on hand in case of an accidental overdose.
Counterfeit Xanax Pills Contaminated With Fentanyl
A 2017 Vice article mentioned that rap artist Lil Peep passed away from taking an excessive amount of drugs. When Lil Peep’s autopsy was completed, Xanax and fentanyl were found in his system.
Vice explains that part of the reason why it is easy to suffer complications — including death — from counterfeit Xanax is that it is easier than ever to purchase a pill press that allows dealers to make their own pills.
Other factors that have led to an increased risk of taking fentanyl-laced Xanax are:
- The popularity of Xanax prescriptions. A March 2012 article from New York Magazine spoke about the popularity of Xanax prescriptions as a way to help people deal with anxiety. It became a promising anti-anxiety treatment and was considered better for people than its popular predecessor Valium because it remained in the body for less time.
- The opioid epidemic. In 2016, The Guardian mentioned that authorities in Maryland were already finding counterfeit pills of a variety of medications that were contaminated with fentanyl. This is linked to the opioid epidemic, but counterfeit versions of many substances that cause dependency are often laced with fentanyl. This includes fake Xanax pills.
- Cheap production of fentanyl. It is cheaper to produce fentanyl than other drugs, such as heroin. Unlike other popular drugs that have street nicknames, there are few terms for fentanyl used by drug dealers and users. This means fentanyl is often hidden from people who buy it. Consumer demand is not the main motivation behind fentanyl purchases.
Testing Drugs for Fentanyl
Determining the presence of fentanyl through sight alone is not easy. Thankfully, science can help people test their drugs in more reliable ways. Some methods include:
- Fentanyl test strips. In 2017, Brown University started a study on the use of fentanyl test strips in the Rhode Island area. A year later, the study found that young people who took illicit drugs changed their behavior to put themselves at less risk. The study also found that:
- Testing for fentanyl was effortless and allowed people to make better decisions.
- Testing drugs before using them was easier than testing urine after the fact.
- Positive fentanyl test results allowed individuals to make necessary changes to their drug consumption habits.
- Testing at safe injection sites. Cities that already offer safe injection sites can consider testing drugs for traces of fentanyl. In November 2018, the city of Denver approved a local ordinance that would create a safe injection site in the city, according to 9 News. The new site would also test drugs for fentanyl, following the example of a safe injection site currently open in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Risks of Not Testing for Fentanyl
Prevention is the key to ensuring one does not overdose on fentanyl or experience adverse side effects. Though fentanyl is sometimes used as a prescription drug, most people who experiment with other drugs may end up taking it by accident.
One mother, Jaimie, lost her 14-year-old son, Zion, when he took a Xanax pill that contained fentanyl, according to an August 2018 article in Toronto Life. Zion had never experimented with prescription medication before. He purchased his pills from a dealer along with his friends and passed away in his sleep.
Science Daily mentions that 29,000 people died because of a fentanyl overdose in 2017.
Abstinence from prescription pills is the only way to truly prevent an overdose or even death. Those who still want to try such substances should at least test them so that they can make informed decisions.