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Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Fentanyl Risk


Opioid Overdose Prevention

Naloxone (NARCAN®)

Fentanyl Risk

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is at least 50-100 times stronger than heroin and morphine. Depending on how it is made, it can be even stronger than that. When prescribed by a doctor and used as a medication, fentanyl is approved for treating severe pain, like advanced stage cancer pain. But, fentanyl can be made or sold illegally, and can put people at risk for opioid overdose.

Illegally made and distributed fentanyl has been on the rise in many state across America. Nearly half of all overdose deaths in New York State now involve fentanyl or a form of fentanyl. Drugs that have been mixed with fentanyl, even in very small amounts, hugely increase the risk of overdose and death. Just 3 milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal, compared to 30 milligrams of heroin.

If you use other drugs, you may be at risk of an overdose from fentanyl. You may not know if fentanyl is in your drugs. Fentanyl is often disguised or mixed into other drugs, such as heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine (both powder and crack), MDMA and fake pain, and benzodiazepine pills. This disguising or mixing can happen without the dealers’ or users' knowledge. Fentanyl is undetectable by sight, smell, or taste.

When made and used illegally or recreationally, fentanyl is often:

  • A liquid, or a white or brown powder;
  • Pressed into a pill, often mislabeled as an actual medication, such as ‘OxyContin’ or ‘Xanax’;
  • Mixed in with other illicit drugs, including heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine (both powder and crack)

If you think you see an overdose, it is important to act fast. Call 911 and wait with the person until emergency services arrives. Emergency services will give the person medical care and watch their breathing.

If you have naloxone (NARCAN®) nasal spray, use it. Even if you don’t know if they have used an opioid or a drug with fentanyl, use naloxone. Naloxone (NARCAN®) has no bad effects on the body if the person has not used opioids. To learn how to use naloxone (NARCAN®), nasal spray, see our naloxone page.

Important Numbers:

If you are experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis, call for help!

  • Family Service League’s Diagnostic, Assessment, and Stabilization Hub (DASH) Program, 24/7 hotline: For mental health counseling, addiction treatment, and crisis care for children and adults in Suffolk County, call (631) 952 – 3333

  • Suicide Prevention Hotline: If you are in crisis, in need of support or resources, or if you are feeling suicidal, call the Response of Suffolk 24/7 Crisis Hotline (631) 751 - 7500

  • For a medical emergency, call 911