Just a few years ago, most of us had never even heard of Fentanyl. Today, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), it is the number one cause of overdose deaths in the Country. Read on to learn about this deadly escalation in the opioid crisis and find resources to educate clients and help those in need.

The Facts

According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 102,572 people have died from an overdose from October 2020 – October 2021. A whopping 70% of those are due to synthetic opioids, namely Fentanyl. While Fentanyl can be useful in a hospital setting to manage severe pain (it is the strongest opioid available), the culprit in this overdose crisis is not usually the kind of Fentanyl you get from the hospital. Instead, it is made in laboratories, mainly in Mexico and China, and “cut” into other drugs such as fake prescription pills, heroin, cocaine, and even marijuana. The fake prescription pills look identical to authentic prescription pills. In fact, it is nearly impossible to detect Fentanyl in any drugs, creating a nightmare scenario for individuals and families across the country, as an unknown and unintended dose of Fentanyl can be fatal, sometimes instantaneously.

The bottom line is there is NO SAFE USE OF ANY STREET DRUG. Unless a pill came from a pharmacy, with intended patient’s name on the bottle, a person is literally playing Russian roulette by taking a pill, a line of coke, a snort of heroin, or even a toke on a joint. None of these things are safe and can inadvertently kill you, immediately.

The amount of Fentanyl that can kill a human.

What can you do as an SUD Counselor?

You are in a unique position to spread the word about the dangers of Fentanyl. Education is our best weapon for prevention. Once someone is addicted, treatment options such as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) can be helpful in helping someone to get and stay clean, along with resources such as outpatient, residential, detox and other treatment modalities.

Fentanyl Crisis Response

America is in a full-on opioid crisis. About two decades ago, it started with the overprescribing of opioid drugs and then shifted more to heroin. Today the subcommittee examines the next wave of the opioid crisis, an even more dangerous threat on our streets–fentanyl. The surge of fentanyl is having a dramatic and deadly effect on our communities. We all see the headlines-these are our neighbors, our families, our friends. We need an “all hands on deck approach” to fight this problem, which will involve not just the Federal Government, but States, localities, and even international partners. – Honorable Tim Murphy. Read the HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS, Fentanyl – The Next Phase of the Opioid Crisis. March 2017

SAMSHA has provided block grants to states to address the opioid crisis. California launched The MAT Expansion Project has over 30 active projects to reduce unmet treatment need, reduce opioid overdose rates, and to increase access to MAT. The project have shown solid results including:

  • 100,000 new patients received MAT
  • 1,000,000 units of Naloxone have been distributed
  • 55,000 opioid overdoses have been reversed
  • 11,000 patients received stimulant treatment

CADTP participates in in the MAT Expansion Project as the managing contractor for the Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Integration/Outreach project, active since January 2019. To learn more about the DUI MAT Project and the DUI Program DUI MAT Provider, go to: CADUIMAT.COM.

San Francisco has a new idea that seems to be catching on. Free Fentanyl test strips are placed in local bars and made available to anyone, with no questions or charge. These test strips can test a tiny amount of the drug to see if it contains Fentanyl. Additionally, SAMHSA recently approved the use of grant funds for Fentanyl test strips.

It’s also important to note that sometimes, a person who has overdosed on Fentanyl sometimes requires MORE Naloxone than is normally required, due to the nature of the drug.

In summary, the Fentanyl crisis is unlike any we have seen before due to the nature of the drug. The best we can do is educate, educate, educate those around us. Spread the word, high and low, and everywhere you go. Today, street drugs can kill you before addiction is even an issue! Everyone is at risk.

Thank you for being a part of the solution! Your work is life-saving and essential to getting this “scourge of society” under control.

Downloadable Resources

One Pill Can Kill Printable Flyer – 2 Page

Fentanyl Fact Sheet Printable Flyer – 2 Page