Counterfeit Pill Danger: What Coloradoans Should Know

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One of the causes of the current opioid overdose epidemic is thousands–some say hundreds of thousands or millions –of counterfeit pills that have flooded the US street drug market in recent years, including in Colorado. These drugs are made with illegal pill presses with synthetic drugs that can be 50 to 100 times stronger than the prescription opioids that users are accustomed to taking, and they can cause overdoses that are often fatal because users do not know what they are taking.

The counterfeit pills are made by mixing heroin or prescription opioids with fentanyl or U-47700, and when the pills are mixed incorrectly or incompletely, sometimes even by amounts as tiny as a few grains of the incredibly potent drugs, fatal overdoses can happen.

Why Counterfeit Pills Are Made

There are several reasons drug dealers are deciding to make counterfeit pills instead of selling their customers the usual prescription opioids. For one thing, many new laws have been passed to restrict how doctors can prescribe opioid medications to patients, so opioids have become harder for dealers to get and sell on the street.

Another reason dealers want counterfeit pills is that they are far cheaper to make. One kilogram of fentanyl can make pills that can be sold for millions of dollars, and dealers are drawn to the dangerous pills because of the incredible profit margins. Users are drawn to them because they are sometimes sold cheaper than prescription opioids and because users may become desperate when they can no longer get any more opioid painkillers from their doctors to feed their addiction.

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Fatal overdoses are common with counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl and other synthetic drugs.

What to Do About Counterfeit Pills

Educating people about the dangers of counterfeit pills make keep some from buying and using them. Many states are also passing laws mandating that emergency responders carry naloxone, a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses in some cases.

Law enforcement has also begun to crack down more on pill-making operations and has seized over 100,000 pills in states like Arizona, Tennessee, and Utah. While it seems difficult to keep up with pill presses that can make 5,000 pills per hour, the DEA and other law enforcement agencies are working to trace the origins of the counterfeit pills back to their source, which might be China, Mexico, or Canada, according to current information.

The numbers of opioid overdoses, which have increased rapidly over the past few years, have begun to come down a bit in a few states, including Colorado, but are still at much higher levels than before the opioid abuse epidemic began around 2010.

The only way to be safe from possible overdose is for users not to buy the pills in the first place. Getting treatment for an opioid addiction protects users from the risk of overdose and helps them overcome the effects of long-term opioid use so that they will not feel like they need to purchase drugs on the street that might be more dangerous to them than even the opioids they have been using. Learn about admissions to Recovery Village at Palmer Lake to take the first step toward recovery from opioid addiction. It could save your life.