The Dangers of Rainbow Fentanyl

The Dangers of Rainbow Fentanyl

Addi Vandel

When you think of rainbows, you may think of Skittles. But this rainbow is a rainbow made of a deadly drug called Fentanyl.  

“There recently has been a seizure of rainbow colored pills in the drug supply and we don’t really have evidence for the motivation of why dealers are selling fentanyl in this form,” Chief of The Science Policy department for the National Institute of Drug Abuse,  Dr. Emily Einstein said. “But it is true that it looks kind of like candy.”

Fentanyl has been used for centuries for treatment of severe and chronic pain and is considered an end of life drug. 

“The [use] we’re most familiar with, that we use most frequently now, is to relieve pain,” Einstein said. “Fentanyl specifically is used to relieve very severe pain, [such as] very severe cancer pain for example.”

Fentanyl is the number one leading cause in overdose deaths in the United States.

“So in 2013, around 3,000 Americans were involved in overdosing on fentanyl and in the provisional data from 2021, around 72,000 Americans died from overdoses involving Fentanyl,” Einstein said. 

Teens aged 14-18 have always faced overdose crisis, but over the past few years there has been a very distressing increase. 

Terrifyingly, most of those child overdoses had one common cause, Fentanyl. 

“So among that age group, 14-18, there was a pretty stable number of overdose deaths from about 2010 to 2019,” Einstein said. “Starting in 2020, the number of overdoses in that age group almost doubled and then there was an additional 20 percent increase in 2021.” 

Fentanyl has always been very prevalent in the drug supply, but illicit Fentanyl is arising as a problem very fast in the world. 

“With Fentanyl that is sold illicitly, it can be cut with any number of other substances and can sometimes contain other drugs” Einstein said.  “We’re seeing combinations of things like antiphetamine in fentanyl, or cocaine in fentanyl,” said Einstein. 

There are a multitude of ways that this drug can be obtained, or consumed. 

 “They’re mixing it into all kinds of substances and as we’ve discussed, into these colorful pills,” Einstein said. “For a while now they’ve been pressing fentanyl into pills that directly resemble prescription drugs so there has been fentanyl shaped to look like Xanax for example.”

Illicit fentanyl is an extremely dangerous drug because you don’t know how much fentanyl you’re receiving in one pill. 

One person who takes it could be fine and another could stop breathing and die from an overdose as a result of too much fentanyl being put  in the pill they took. 

“You don’t know if you’re really getting fentanyl or how much fentanyl is in that exact pill. It could be 300 milligrams of the fentanyl or it could be 20 milligrams,” licensed psychotherapy and addiction counselor Meghan Gordan said.  

Fentanyl can also cause many injuries, including severe brain damage that can result in loss of ability to bodily and daily functions. 

“If a young person who has never been exposed to fentanyl, wasn’t you know on medication, just took it at a party or something for fun, it’s most likely that they wouldn’t wake up,” Gordon said. “If they overdose, and they did survive and they had a medical intervention, depending on how much oxygen was deprived to the brain would determine how much brain damage.”

There are lasting impacts like brain damage which can lead to depression, loss of executive functioning, the ability to reason, and cognition would be decreased.

“So instead of working at a college level you might be working at a 5th grade level depending on the brain damage,” Gordon said. 

Fentanyl is poison to anybody who is not prescribed to take it. If one doesn’t have a tolerance for it, the chances of dying from it are immense. 

“There are reports of police making arrests and just getting a sniff of it and overdosing on the spot and having to be brought back with narcan, which is an inhalant, again that immediately goes to the brain and reverses the effect of opioids,” Gordon said. 

This drug is especially dangerous as even the slightest touch on your skin could do harm. 

“When people are prescribed fentanyl patches for severe illness and life situations, the caretaker has to put on latex gloves to apply the patches because even if they get a little bit of the patch on their finger or their hands, that could be enough to overdose on,” Gordon said. 

The more you use narcotics, like fentanyl, the stronger the addiction and tolerance for the drug becomes. 

Developing a tolerance and an addiction to narcotics and opioids can lead to life-ending consequences. 

It will ruin relationships, kill brain cells, kill the liver. 

Fentanyl impairs speech, reduces performance in school or work, and the only thing driving someone is getting their next high.

“It makes people more reactive, it changes their judgment, very poor judgment, not like trumps of alcohol, they’re more likely to be enraged when they shouldn’t be,” Gordon said. “They’re more likely to be offended when they shouldn’t be.”

The lasting implications that it could have on a persons’ emotional state is life altering. 

“It kind of puts them in fight starter mode,” Gordon said. “They’re less productive because it has a heavy sedation factor to it as well and it’s not just working on the brain but it works on other parts of the body like I said the brain stem which suppresses respiration through the heart and lungs is affected.” 

Fentanyl, and this new rainbow fentanyl, are very dangerous substances and should not be messed around with nor should it be taken for fun. 

“One high can wreck a life and a family forever. It’s just not worth it. If you need to get high, if you need any type of drug to feel better, that is a red flag that you need to get help,” Gordon said. “You might actually die. Think about your family, think about your future, think about your friends.”  

Without a tolerance for fentanyl, taking the substance on purpose or accidentally comes with massive risk. 

“But especially teenagers who don’t have any tolerance to opioids would be at a greater risk of dying from one dose of fentanyl,” Einstein said. 

Fentanyl is the strongest opioid, and will cause death without tolerance. 

“If a kid takes it, it skips all those lower level narcotics and it just goes to the top and that is just straight poison to the body and the body will just shut down,” said Gordon. “And it does and that’s what we’re seeing every single day. One pill alone is enough to kill someone.”