Opioids are a class of drugs that include those that are legally prescribed:
- Oxycodone (OxyContin)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- Many others
Opioids also include illegal or street drugs such as:
- Man-made fentanyl or carfentanil
Legal fentanyl is usually prescribed in a patch form as a painkiller and is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. This makes the risk of accidental overdose much higher (especially when it’s mixed with alcohol, benzodiazepines such as Valium or Xanax, or other opioids).
There are also different fentanyls being made illegally and sold on the streets. This fentanyl is often made as a powder and mixed with other street drugs (like heroin, cocaine or crack). It is also being pressed into pills and sold as things like ‘oxycodone’ (oxycontin, oxys, eighties) or other pills including speed and ecstasy/Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).
Illegal fentanyl is much more toxic than other prescription opioids. There is no easy way to know if fentanyl is in a person’s street drugs. You can’t see, smell or taste it. Any street drug can be cut (mixed) with fentanyl and even a very small amount can cause an overdose.
There are overdose prevention and naloxone tips that will help reduce your risk!
Carfentanil is an opioid that is used by veterinarians for very large animals like elephants. It is not for human use. It is approximately 100 times more toxic than fentanyl and 10,000 times more toxic than morphine. This means carfentanil can be deadly in extremely small amounts.
Carfentanil has been found here in Ontario. It is being cut (mixed) with other street drugs like heroin and counterfeit pills made to look like prescription opioids (including green pills stamped ‘Canadian’ (‘CDN’) on one side and ‘80’ on the other). There is no easy way to know if carfentanil is in a person’s street drugs – you can’t see it, smell it or taste it. It is extremely toxic and a very small amount can cause an overdose.
What’s the risk with counterfeit drugs?
Counterfeit pills can be manufactured to look almost identical to prescription opioids such as Oxycontin, Percocet, and other medications. Obtaining drugs from a non-medical source such as a friend, ordering online, or a drug dealer is very risky and potentially life-threatening as there is no way to know what is actually in the drugs or how toxic they may be. Drugs should only be purchased from a local pharmacy or a medical professional.
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