The Risk of Fentanyl in 2023

The Risk of Fentanyl in 2023

After several years of increased use internationally, fentanyl started making mainstream headlines in 2022. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) observed the first National Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day on Aug. 21, 2022. But now that it’s 2023, how is the battle against fentanyl prevention going?

Here’s what you should know about the ongoing risk of fentanyl in 2023.

Fentanyl 101

Even though fentanyl has started gaining international recognition, it’s important to review the basics of this highly potent drug. The substance is a synthetic opioid drug; for reference, it packs quite a punch. Compared to other opioids like morphine, this synthetic drug is between 50 to 100 times more potent. What is important to note is that fentanyl is available in a prescription form. However, because of its high potency, it is typically used for severe pain management or cancer treatment, especially in terminal cases. Fentanyl is medically available in pill and patch form, but that only includes the medical use of this drug. On the streets, the illegal version of the drug comes in pills, powders, patches, and even liquids.

One of the reasons this drug is so dangerous is because of how powerful it is. It’s one thing to mention that this drug is up to 100 times more potent than morphine or up to 50 times more potent than heroin. But it’s quite another thing when we think about this drug in terms of its death rate. The general rule of thumb for fentanyl is it only takes up to 2 mg or 3 mg for fentanyl to be deadly. [1] It packs quite a punch that can easily become life-threatening for the average person.

Widespread Availability and Widespread Warnings

Unfortunately, fentanyl has gained a reputation for being one of the most widespread lacing drugs in the illicit drug market. If any drug is purchased on the street, there is a possibility that it has been laced with fentanyl -- everything from marijuana to counterfeit Xanax. Not only does this increase the danger of an unintentional drug overdose for people unsuspectingly buying this powerful opioid, but it also increases the deadly interaction of opposing drug types.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned against mixing opioids with other drug forms, such as benzodiazepines like Xanax, because these drugs can have deadly effects on our vital organs. It’s one thing to take this warning to heart if you are medically prescribed these drugs, but it’s quite another thing when purchasing one kind of drug illicitly only to discover later that it was laced with fentanyl. Unfortunately, this discovery doesn’t happen for many before it’s too late.

These are the circumstances and dangers that cause many people to sound the alarm and raise awareness about fentanyl, especially in 2022. But how are things going today? Is this drug still a deadly risk? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. The good news is that authorities are much more aware of the ongoing drug smuggling operations, especially at the U.S.-Mexico border.

As of February 2023, authorities seized over 88 pounds of fentanyl, a value of over $5 million, and local authorities consider it a huge success. The only problem is the drug bust took place in Ohio, meaning that these drugs were still successfully smuggled into the United States. But what happens with the untold amounts of fentanyl that successfully make it into America’s illicit drug market? Sadly, it comes in the form of tragic stories, such as in Dallas, Texas, where students died or ended up in the hospital after using illicit fentanyl purchased from classmates.

Fentanyl’s Silver Lining

There’s also some good news. At the close of 2022, researchers from the University of Houston announced a “game-changer” in the ongoing battle against fentanyl overdoses: a fentanyl vaccine. According to these researchers, this vaccine is designed to block fentanyl from entering the brain and allow it to leave the body through the kidneys. The hope of blocking the fentanyl “high” is also an expectation that this vaccine would be able to assist people in detoxing from this drug. The researchers are seeking the FDA’s approval for the drug.

While it’s still too early to tell, this research effort represents ongoing progress from the current life-saving measures for fentanyl overdose: naloxone. Naloxone is a pure opioid antagonist. This means it reverses an opioid overdose and is considered a life-saving drug for that reason. However, because of the sudden opioid withdrawal symptoms naloxone produces, it is reserved only for emergencies.

Addressing the Root of the Problem

While the benefit of life-saving medications like naloxone or research efforts in the development of a fentanyl vaccine are encouraging, they cannot replace the importance of dealing with the heart of the problem in the supply and demand chain of fentanyl. The drug continues to find its way into the United States and other countries because there is a demand for it. This might sound surprising because of how deadly it is, but the fact is fentanyl is highly potent and addictive.

Despite its dangers, people will continue to buy and use a drug with a powerful addictive potential. This means the only way to deal with fentanyl at its root is to deal with its addictive potential. If you or someone you know is addicted to this highly potent and deadly drug, it is vital to seek help from trained medical professionals who can guide you on the road to recovery.


United States Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d). Fentanyl. Retrieved

United States Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d). Fentanyl Awareness. Retrieved,to%20drive%20the%20overdose%20epidemic.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022 February 23). Fentanyl Facts. Retrieved

Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). Fentanyl Addiction: What Side Effects Should You Know About? Retrieved

Food and Drug Administration. (2017 September 20). FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA warns about serious risks and death when combining opioid pain or cough medicines with benzodiazepines; requires its strongest warning. Retrieved

Health Unit Haldimand Norfolk. (n.d.). Warning: Marijuana Laced with Fentanyl. Retrieved

Maryland Carroll County Health Department. (n.d.). Alert: Counterfeit Street Pills and Fentanyl-Related Overdoses in Carroll County. Retrieved

Fox News 8 Cleveland. (2023 February 5). Drug bust: How officials worked together to seize 88 pounds of fentanyl. Retrieved

NBC 5 Dallas Fortworth. (2023 February 6). 3 Students Dead, 6 Hospitalized From Fentanyl Linked to Carrollton Drug House: Report. Retrieved

Smithsonian Magazine. (2022 December 15). Scientists Create a Vaccine Against Fentanyl. Retrieved

New York Post. (2023 February 5). Potential fentanyl vax, test kits a ‘great breakthrough’ to combat opioid deaths. Retrieved

Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). Narcan: The Overdose Reversal Drug | Side Effects & Prescriptions. Retrieved

Council on Foreign Relations. (2022 May 12). The U.S. Opioid Epidemic. Retrieved

NIH. (2021, June). What is Fentanyl? Retrieved 

What's your reaction?

You may also like


0 comment

Write the first comment for this!

Facebook Conversations

Website Screenshots by PagePeeker