Multicolored fentanyl pills, known as “rainbow fentanyl”, are gaining ground in the United States

Rainbow fentanyl was confiscated in 18 states in August 2022, according to a press release from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA expressed concern that the dr*gs’ brightly colored, candy-like appearance might be deliberate to sell the highly addictive drug to young people and even children.

“Rainbow fentanyl – fentanyl tablets and powder that come in a variety of bright colors, shapes and sizes – is a deliberate effort by drug traffickers to create addiction among children and young adults,” DEA administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement. “DEA men and women are constantly working to stop the rainbow fentanyl trafficking and defeat the Mexican drug cartels that account for the vast majority of the fentanyl trafficked in the United States.”

Pills “Rainbow Fentanyl” as shown in the DEA press release. There are concerns that the brightly colored, highly addictive drug may be targeting children.
Drug Administration

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that is often prescribed as a pain reliever. According to the DEA fact sheet, fentanyl is extremely addictive and is approximately 100 times more potent than morph*ne and 50 times more potent than h*roin. While providing pain relief, fentanyl binds to the body’s opioid receptors, which also leads to symptoms of extreme happiness, somnolence, nausea, sedation or unconsciousness.

This rainbow fentanyl, however, is not the first time dr*gs have appeared in different colors than usual.

“Colorful fentanyl pills have been around for some time,” said Joseph J. Palamar, associate professor at the Department of Population Health at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. Newsweek.

“This is regular fentanyl. The effects of each drug depend on the way it is administered. If the drug is injected or smoked, it works much faster than if it is swallowed, ”said Palamar. “The effects also depend on how much of the drug is taken and whether the user is tolerant. If a fentanyl tablet is accidentally swallowed, I think there is more time to seek help than someone who sniffs, smokes or injects a drug that is not known to contain fentanyl. It’s possible that different colors correspond to different doses, so the color of the pill can also make a difference. “

Due to its addictive properties, fentanyl may lead to overdose and even d*ath. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), synthetic opioids like fentanyl are the most common dr*gs associated with drug overdose in the United States, with 59 percent of fentanyl-related opioid d*aths in 2017. 14.3 percent in 2010.

“We found that not only did the number of fentanyl seizures increase, but also the proportion of pills seized in the total number of fentanyl seizures increased,” Palamar said. “Pill seizures increased from 14 percent in early 2018 to 29 percent by the end of 2021.

According to Palamar, the most common fentanyl pills were blue counterfeit oxyc*done pills labeled “M30”, which were particularly dangerous not because of their color, but rather because they looked like real oxyc*done, which is a much weaker opioid.

“These new pills often have the M30 logo as well, but are available in a wider variety of colors that are somewhat reminiscent of Sweetart candies,” he said.

rainbow fent
Rainbow fentanyl in a plastic bag confiscated by law enforcement.
Drug Control Administration / Multnomah County Sheriff

Rainbow fentanyl can pose a risk to children, but not for reasons the DEA is concerned about.

“I don’t think these manufacturers or dealers target children, but that doesn’t mean these pills aren’t appealing to children,” said Palamar. “These pills cost money, so I think the fears of the people who give their children these Halloween pills are exaggerated. I would only be concerned about the parents or others who use fentanyl and leave the pills when they have children. “

Occasionally, other dr*gs such as c*caine or MDMA are mixed with cheaper fentanyl, which could mean that a fentanyl overdose can occur without the person knowing it is actually fentanyl. Naloxone can be used to treat fentanyl overdose if administered rapidly.

Withdrawal from fentanyl is extremely unpleasant, making it very difficult to give up once you become addicted. According to the NIDA, withdrawal symptoms include muscle and bone pain, sleep problems, diarrhea and vomiting, goosebumps cold flashes, uncontrolled leg movements, and severe cravings.


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