Fentanyl and Meth: A Deadly Combination
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Last Updated - 1/17/2023View our editorial policy
Individually, both methamphetamine (meth) and fentanyl are dangerous drugs that can cause an overdose. However, that risk increases when taken together and can lead to a potentially even deadlier situation.
Fentanyl and meth are common drugs of abuse. Meth is short for methamphetamine, an addictive substance that can lead to dependence. Meth misuse stimulates the central nervous system, rewiring the brain quickly and leading to addiction. Fentanyl is an opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin. A very small amount of fentanyl is all it takes to overdose.
You do not even need to consciously take fentanyl to experience the effects of the meth-fentanyl combination because fentanyl can be easily mixed with meth to create a cheap high at a potentially deadly price.
Fentanyl and the Opioid Crisis
Synthetic, or lab-made, opioids like fentanyl have been a major driver of opioid overdose deaths throughout the U.S. In 2020 alone, there were more than 56,000 overdose deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl in the U.S., representing more than 82% of all opioid overdose deaths. Most of this fentanyl is believed to be illicitly manufactured by drug cartels.
From 2019 to 2020, most states experienced an increase in overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. This included Ohio, where there was a more than 30% increase in synthetic opioid deaths during that time.
Meth and Fentanyl Use in Ohio
The use of stimulants like meth and opioids like fentanyl is on the rise throughout Ohio. Overdoses in Ohio are on the rise, too. As of 2019, there were more than 3,100 fentanyl overdoses and more than 850 stimulant overdoses in Ohio. This is an increase over the more than 2,800 fentanyl overdoses and more than 600 stimulant overdoses in 2018. While data is unavailable on how often the two agents are used together in Ohio, the two drugs are implicated together in causing a massive increase in overdose deaths in other states like New York.
Why Is Meth Cut With Fentanyl?
Dealers cut many drugs, including meth, with fentanyl to make them stronger and get a person hooked on them more easily. Fentanyl is comparatively cheap and very addictive. By secretly adding it to drugs, dealers can ensure that people keep coming back for more at a very low cost to them. Experts estimate that cartels have made billions of dollars trafficking fentanyl like this.
The Dangers of Combining or Lacing Meth With Fentanyl
Whether a person deliberately or unknowingly combines meth and fentanyl, the effects and dangers are similar. Because meth is a stimulant that revs up the central nervous system, and fentanyl is a central nervous system depressant, the drugs’ side effects can mask one another. While fewer side effects may seem like a good thing on the surface, it is actually very dangerous. This is because it can make it easier to overdose, as you may not feel as high as you would if you took the drugs individually. This is why meth and fentanyl are jointly responsible for causing a spike in overdose deaths.
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How To Tell if Meth Is Laced With Fentanyl
Fentanyl test strips are available to help you avoid fentanyl-contaminated drugs. These test strips, which you may be able to obtain at your local health department or a needle exchange program, can be used at home for you to test your drugs for fentanyl.
Unfortunately, testing for fentanyl is not foolproof:
- Test strips may tell you that fentanyl is present but do not tell you how much fentanyl is present.
- Test strips are not 100% accurate and may give you a false negative for fentanyl, making you think that your drugs are fentanyl-free when they really are not.
- Test strips may not pick up related opioids like carfentanil, which is even stronger than fentanyl.
You can lower your opioid overdose risk by ensuring a person is available to give you the opioid reversal agent naloxone (Narcan) if you start to show symptoms of an overdose like slowed breathing, pinpoint pupils, clammy skin or unresponsiveness. Multiple doses of naloxone may be needed, and the person should call 911 as soon as possible after giving the naloxone because it can wear off.
Addiction Treatment for Meth Use in Ohio
Many Ohio meth addiction treatment resources are available. The Recovery Village Columbus is a facility that offers:
- A welcoming, understanding and supportive environment
- Medical detox for withdrawal so that you know you are well supported during this time. This includes medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as medically appropriate.
- Inpatient and outpatient rehab treatment that allows you to focus intensively on learning ways to manage your substance addiction better
- Counseling, group therapy and alternative therapies that help you discuss and develop strategies to achieve and maintain sobriety over the long term
- Dual diagnosis treatment, so you can address underlying concerns that might lead to substance abuse, such as depression and anxiety
At The Recovery Village Columbus, medical professionals offer you support in your recovery from meth addiction or fentanyl addiction in Ohio. When you’re looking for support as you take the first steps into sobriety, the facility can help you move toward that goal. Contact The Recovery Village Columbus today to discuss our addiction treatment programs.
United States Drug Enforcement Administration. “DEA Issues Carfentanil Warning To Police And Public.” September 22, 2016. Accessed June 28, 2022.
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “How to Test Your Drugs Using Fentanyl Test Strips.” Accessed June 28, 2022.
Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. “Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network […]in the State of Ohio.” January – June 2020. Accessed June 28, 2022.
Ohio Department of Administrative Services. “Alcohol and Other Drugs Indicators Behav[…]th Data Group (BHDG).” Accessed June 28, 2022.
New York State Department of Health. “Opioid Prevention Program: Data to Action
Overdose Deaths Involving Methamphetamin[…]York City, 2016-2020.” January 2022. Accessed June 28, 2022.
Resendiz, Julian. “Cartels peddle fentanyl-laced meth and h[…]t users’ knowledge.” Border Report, October 4, 2021. Accessed June 28, 2022.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Synthetic Opioid Overdose Data.” June 6, 2022. Accessed June 28, 2022.
Vo, Kim; Neafsey, Patricia J.; Lin, Carolyn A. “Concurrent use of amphetamine stimulants[…]dergraduate students.” Patient Preference and Adherence, January 22, 2015. Accessed June 28, 2022.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What is Methamphetamine?” May 2019. Accessed June 28, 2022.