At the beginning of June 2022, social media and news headlines warned of “fentanyl dollar bills” causing harm to unsuspecting people who handled them. The word was they could be dangerous because people use folded bills to stash hazardous drugs, including fentanyl.
The Controversy Behind the Fentanyl Dollar Bills
According to some reports, people are hiding fentanyl on folded-up dollar bills nationwide. The Lewis County, WV sheriff’s department called the practice an “attack on the public” and said that if you see money on the ground folded precisely, use great caution and contact local law enforcement.
The Lewis County sheriff’s office posted a photo of a penny and several tiny grains of powder, adding, “The amount of powder shown next to the penny (if fentanyl-laced) is more than enough to kill anyone that comes into contact with it.”
In addition to the West Virginia law enforcement warning, Perry County, Tennessee, authorities cautioned residents about two incidents in which powder containing fentanyl was found in folded dollar bills on an area gas station floor.
In the last year, other claims of people becoming ill after accidentally touching fentanyl made headlines in San Diego, California, and Nashville, Tennessee. But in each case, authorities who investigated the contact circumstances did not conclusively find that simply touching the substance resulted in illness.
Dr. Ryan Marino, medical director of toxicology and addiction medicine at University Hospitals in Cleveland, said that the only way to overdose on this drug is by ingesting it, which most often means snorting or taking it as a pill. “You cannot overdose from secondhand contact,” Marino stated in a New York Times interview. But because fentanyl is a potent drug, it doesn’t take much to do much harm when it is ingested.
Adding to this matter, Dr. Caleb Alexander, epidemiologist and drug safety expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a FOX 29 Philadelphia interview, “The skin is a very good barrier and defense against a lot of things that are out there in the world, and it would be incredibly unusual for somebody to touch something that was contaminated with fentanyl and subsequently to experience a really serious, adverse effect from it.”
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid, like morphine, but 50 to 100 times stronger. It is a prescription drug that has been used illegally lately. Like morphine, fentanyl is typically used to treat patients with severe pain, often after surgery.
In its prescription form, fentanyl is known as Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze.
Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the U.S. In 2017, 59.8 percent of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl, compared to 14.3 percent in 2010.
Around 108,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2021, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl were responsible for 71,000 deaths.
“Fentanyl addiction remains the deadliest drug threats facing this country,” said a DEA spokesperson recently.
The Effects of Fentanyl on the Brain
Like many opioid drugs, fentanyl works by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, which control pain and emotions in the brain.
Fentanyl’s effects include:
- extreme joy
- problems breathing
Fentanyl Overdose Treatment
If you suspect someone has overdosed, the most crucial step is to call 911 so they can receive immediate medical attention. Once medical help arrives, they will use naloxone if they suspect it’s an opioid drug overdose.
Naloxone is a medicine that can treat a fentanyl overdose when given right away. This medicine works by rapidly binding to opioid receptors and blocking the effects of opioid drugs. The downside is that fentanyl is more potent than other opioid drugs, often requiring multiple doses of naloxone.
People given naloxone should be monitored for another two hours after the last dose of naloxone is granted to ensure breathing does not slow or stop.
Some states have mandated laws that allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a personal prescription. Friends, family, and others in the community can use the nasal spray versions of naloxone to save a life.
GateHouse on the Fentanyl Dollar Bills Occurrences
Although several cases stated they were overdosed due to fentanyl dollar bills, the symptoms reported are not consistent with opioid toxicity and are more in line with stress or anxiety, experts said.
Contact us if you or a loved one have substance use issues, including using drugs like fentanyl.
GateHouse Treatment is here to lead anyone going through drug or alcohol addiction to recovery. If you or a loved one want to take the path to recovery, call us today at (855) 448-3588. GateHouse Treatment is here for you.
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