Recently, Drugs Data, a DEA-licensed laboratory, reported an occurrence of counterfeit Adderall cut with fentanyl. Someone in Southern California submitted it for testing after buying it online from India.1
This report emphasizes just how dangerous counterfeit pills can be. Since 2019, the number of counterfeit pills seized by the DEA has increased nearly 430%—Additionally, about 40% of counterfeit pills cut with fentanyl contain a potentially fatal dose.2 The only pills that are safe to use are those prescribed by a healthcare provider and dispensed by a pharmacist. Even then, you must follow your doctor’s instructions very carefully.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is an extremely potent and potentially life-threatening synthetic opioid drug that is about 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Just a small amount of fentanyl can cause an overdose, coma, and death.3
It has legitimate medical uses, such as severe pain that is unmanageable with less potent opioids, but fentanyl is often made illegally in labs and cut with other street drugs, like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and ecstasy (MDMA).3 Many users buy these drugs not knowing that they are cut with fentanyl, which puts them in danger of an accidental overdose.
Synthetic opioids like fentanyl and fentanyl analogs were responsible for over 36,000 overdose deaths in 2019 in the United States. These synthetic-opioid-related overdose deaths accounted for about 73% of all opioid deaths that year.4 In Los Angeles, there were 987 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in 2020 alone.5
Reported Effects by the User
In the Drugs Data report, the person who bought the counterfeit Adderall online said that the high felt different than that of prescription Adderall. They said it was “a more subtle high with a longer timeframe.” They also noted a headache after the high wore off.1
Using counterfeit Adderall is very dangerous, as it can be cut with deadly drugs like fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. But even misusing a legitimate prescription can have severe consequences.
Possible side effects of Adderall and other prescription stimulants include:6
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Behavioral changes, such as anger or aggression
- Dangerously high body temperature
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart failure
Because of the risk of these side effects, it’s important to take your Adderall exactly as prescribed. And if you don’t have an Adderall prescription, taking someone else’s to get high or improve academic performance can result in potentially life-threatening effects.
How to Tell if Your Drugs Are Cut with Fentanyl
Many people think that you can tell if a pill is legitimate or not just by looking at it or breaking it apart. Some claim if the pills crumble then they are legitimate, but that’s not enough to determine safety.
The safest way to know if your drugs are cut with fentanyl is to test your drugs using a fentanyl test strip. A fentanyl test strip is an affordable and easy-to-use way to detect the presence of fentanyl, even in small amounts.
There are three ways to use a fentanyl test strip, including:7
- Dissolve your drugs in water and use the strip; this is the most accurate way to test for fentanyl since it is not always mixed evenly throughout
- Crush your drugs on a clean surface, put the powder in the bag and shake it, then empty it and push the powder aside. Now dissolve the residue left in the bag into water and test that mixture.
- Put 10mg of your drug into a clean, dry container and add water to the container then use the test strip.
How to Read a Fentanyl Test Strip
It’s important that you know how to properly read a fentanyl test strip so you then take appropriate action to prevent an overdose.
What to Do if Your Fentanyl Test is Positive
If you receive a positive test result on your fentanyl test strip, the safest thing you can do is dispose of your drugs.
If you still want to use your drugs, you will want to do the following:7
- Go slow at first and take a small amount
- Make sure you use the drugs with another person present
- Make sure you keep naloxone (Narcan) on you to reverse an opioid overdose
- Avoid using your drug with other psychoactive substances
- Drugs Data. (2021). Counterfeit Adderall (AD 30).
- United States Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.) One Pill Can Kill.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Fentanyl Drugfacts.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Synthetic Opioid Overdose Data.
- Substance Abuse Prevention and Control. (2021). Data Report: Accidental Drug Overdose Deaths in Los Angeles County During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Prescription Stimulants DrugFacts.
- The City of New York. (n.d.). How to Test Your Drugs Using Fentanyl Test Strips.
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