Health Alert!

The Dangers of Fentanyl!


Fentanyl is an opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Illicit drugs may contain fentanyl, and all New Yorkers who use illicit drugs may be exposed to it.

After a 51 percent increase in the rate of overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016, New York City (NYC) saw a slowed increase of 2 percent from 2016 to 2017. But fentanyl continues to present a significant risk of overdose for New Yorkers. In 2017, fentanyl was the most common drug involved in overdose deaths in NYC for the first time; the opioid was detected in 57 percent of overdose deaths.

NYC Police Department laboratory testing has found fentanyl in drugs sold as cocaine, methamphetamine and ketamine, and in illicitly manufactured opioid analgesic and benzodiazepine pills. Its widespread presence in the drug supply not only increases the risk of overdose among people who use heroin or other opioids, but also among people who use non-opioid drugs (as they are less likely to have tolerance to opioids).

New Yorkers who use drugs — even if only occasionally — should be aware that illicit drugs may contain fentanyl. The New York City Health Department urges health and social service agencies to counsel their clients to take the following steps to prevent overdose when consuming any illicit drug:
• Use with someone else and take turns using.
• Test a drug’s strength by first using a small amount.
• Avoid mixing drugs, including alcohol.
• Carry naloxone, which can quickly reverse an opioid overdose if given in time.
• Know what to do if someone is overdosing, including where to get naloxone.

New Yorkers can buy naloxone without a prescription at more than 1,000 pharmacies or get naloxone for free at an Opioid Overdose Prevention Program (OOPP).

Clients can connect to NYC Well for available services in more than 200 languages by calling 888-NYC-WELL (888-692-9355), texting “WELL” to 65173 or visiting Methamphetamine-specific support is available by contacting the Re-Charge program at 917-667-1093.