National Fentanyl Awareness Day

Fentanyl is involved in more deaths of Americans under 50 than any cause of death including heart disease, cancer, homicide, suicide and other accidents.

This #NationalFentanylAwarenessDay, learn more about the risks associated with fentanyl, and what you can do to prevent, recognize, and reverse overdose.

Learn more about Fentanyl

The use of illegally-made fentanyl is fueling a national health crisis. People are using it unintentionally and dying from overdoses as a result. Even if you don’t use non-prescribed drugs, chances are that you know someone who has been impacted by the current crisis.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a potent lab-made opioid, up to 50X stronger than heroin.
Some fentanyl is medication that is prescribed by a doctor, but others are illegally made in unauthorized facilities and mixed in with counterfeit and illicit drugs.

How is this different from other drugs?

Even small doses of fentanyl, i.e. as small as 2 milligrams equivalent to 2 grains of sand, can be fatal, and some drug dealers are adding fentanyl to other commonly used street drugs, i.e. people are dying from unintentional fentanyl use.

Why should I be worried if I don’t use fentanyl?

Fentanyl is commonly added to party drugs and fake prescription pills everywhere, such as counterfeit pills purchased online (e.g., anti-anxiety, antidepressants, opioids, stimulants). For this reason many people are unintentionally using, and in many cases overdosing from, fentanyl.

What can I do about this?

Naloxone can reverse overdoses

Naloxone is a medication that can reverse overdose by fentanyl and other opioids, such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. It can very quickly restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result of overdosing.

In March 2023, the FDA approved over the counter sales of naloxone. If you or someone you know is at increased risk for opioid overdose, you should carry naloxone and keep it at home.

Learning to recognize overdose can help save lives

When someone is experiencing an opioids related overdose, there are many signs that the person might exhibit. These could include any of the following:
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Unresponsive to outside stimulus
  • Awake, but unable to talk
  • Breathing is very slow and shallow, erratic, or has stopped
  • For lighter skinned people, the skin tone turns bluish purple, for darker skinned people, it turns grayish or ashen
  • Choking sounds, or a snore-like gurgling noise (sometimes called the “death rattle”)
  • Vomiting
  • Body is very limp
  • Face is very pale or clammy
  • Fingernails and lips turn blue or purplish black
  • Pulse (heartbeat) is slow, erratic, or not there at all

What to do if you think someone is overdosing

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether someone is having an overdose or is high/using drugs. If the situation is unclear, follow the steps below and treat the situation like an overdose-you could save a life.
Call 911 immediately
Administer naloxone if available*
Try to keep the person awake and breathing
Lay the person on their side to prevent choking
Stay with the person until emergency assistance arrives

Help is available

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, help is available virtually and locally. If you are looking for resources to support recovery (support groups etc.), you can search for your nearest support group chapters here. Many states have services to help find substance use treatment. Select your state from the drop-down box below to learn how to connect to information and resources if you or someone you know is seeking help. National help is also available at
Northern Delaware: 800-652-2929
Southern Delaware: 800-345-6785
District of Columbia
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia