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Fentanyl Masquerades as Fake Pills, Says Metro Public Health

by Cedric Dent

January 13, 2023
Fake pills under a magnifying glass because forensics suspects them of containing fentanyl.

The city of Louisville recently launched a campaign warning residents about the prevalence of counterfeit prescription drugs that contain fentanyl, a dangerous opioid that’s been linked to thousands of overdose deaths. On December 30, Louisville’s Department of Public Health and Wellness began circulation of a flier titled “Can You Tell the Difference?” The flier shows pictures of real prescription drugs and fake pills, showing they look identical. Louisville officials are asking people not to use any drugs purchased outside of a pharmacy by yourself. According to the Public Health Dept., these counterfeits now inundate Louisville’s drug supply.

Accessibility of Fake Pills

This comes amid the opioid crisis climate in which consumers can get drugs so many different ways. Illicit substances are freely accessible through friends, the internet and of course more estranged street acquaintances. 

Users often don’t know what they’re getting in many of these circumstances, and overdose catches them off guard. It follows ingestion within minutes sometimes. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has put more effort into warning about fentanyl in the last two years than into any other drug. As of the penning of this article, the DEA’s homepage dedicates much of its cyber real estate to specifically that topic.

Fentanyl-related drugs often alter the perception of pain and release endorphins. This yields a powerfulA book with the formula for fentanyl in it so that someone can manufacture fake pills. ecstasy. That’s what the individual human beings behind Louisville’s record-high overdose deaths were chasing when they passed.

Harm Reduction: Fake Pills or No

“Assume prescription drugs you buy anywhere but a pharmacy are counterfeit,” warned Louisville Metro Health and Wellness. “If you decide to use it anyway, try using a lesser amount than usual. Swallow it instead of snorting or injecting it.”

The advice assumes many will still take drugs that they know might be laced with fentanyl. It’s an implicit nod to harm reduction philosophies advocated by more and more organizations nationwide as of late. 

Don’t Use Alone

The same thought process is born out by the department’s next warning against using a suspiciously acquired substance alone. It’s best to have company with you, preferably someone who isn’t using. 

First responders say this has become the key to saving lives, which is why harm reduction studies have found it so critical to destigmatize substance use disorders. Users need to be able to use or relapse with company who can save them because fatal overdoses typically occur “among individuals using alone.” That was the conclusion of a 2020 study in British Columbia.

Naloxone Savvy

From first responders’ perspective, Narcan (or naloxone) is also a major necessity. Administering it is how they save lives but also how friends can save lives before paramedics arrive on the scene of an overdose. The Public Health and Wellness flyer addressed that also.

“Always have overdose reversal drug NARCAN on hand. Free Narcan is available at your local health department, Quick Response Team and most pharmacies,” Metro Health and Wellness said.

You can learn how to administer Narcan here. Another valuable resource for parents and loved ones of those who might be involved in substance abuse is Drop the F Bomb. It’s an online resource that educates people about fentanyl, tips on how to discuss it with kids and how to use Narcan.

Addiction Politics

At present, Kentucky is seeing significant policy shifts intended to address the opioid crisis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report two-thirds of overdose mortality in the state is attributable to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

State Sen. Ralph Alvarado has been fielding bills to subtly decriminalize drug addiction without decriminalizing the sale and distribution thereof. Critics argue it’s not doable. Alvarado’s also pushing regulatory solutions in the addiction treatment space. The Office of Drug Control Policy’s also trying to shore up relationships between government and private-sector aides like those.

Are You Battling Addiction? 

If you or a loved one wrestle with substance use disorder, call 502.309.2675 to talk to addiction specialists at Landmark Recovery of Louisville today. Landmark can provide transportation from wherever in Kentucky you are to the treatment facility. Once there, you can be assessed for a residential treatment program

We may also find that it’s better for you to be involved in our intensive outpatient treatment rather than being housed by Landmark because it’s more ideal for your circumstance. We’ll figure out how to help you finance it after we’ve gotten your treatment settled.

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