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How to Protect Yourself from Fentanyl Overdose

How to Protect Yourself from Fentanyl Overdose

After a recent cluster of more than forty overdoses and ten fatalities in the Sacramento area, officials are scrambling to find solutions for addicts that will save their lives. These overdoses and deaths were caused by the drug fentanyl, an opioid that is among the strongest available. Usually prescribed to patients in a hospital setting for post-operative pain or given as patches to cancer patients with significant pain to manage, fentanyl is one of the most dangerous drugs to use when one is not under a physician’s supervision. Because of its strength, it is easy to overdose from fentanyl abuse. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself or a loved one from fentanyl overdose.

  1. Keep naloxone (Narcan) on hand. If you or someone you love uses fentanyl, even with a prescription, it is important to have naloxone readily available in case of overdose. Naloxone is a drug that reverses opioid overdose and in doing so, provides time for emergency medical assistance. Even if you or your loved one is not a regular fentanyl user, but uses or abuses any opioid, even under a doctor’s supervision, naloxone should be in the home.


  1. Do not buy prescription painkillers on the street. One of the problems addicts have is that they become addicted to painkillers very often from legal prescriptions, but those prescriptions eventually run out. They may have had an accident or illness for which they were prescribed painkillers and subsequently became addicted to them. Eventually, the prescription will be cut off by doctors and the addict is forced to buy their pills on the street. Not only is this expensive, which is one of the reasons opioid pill addicts often switch to heroin – it’s cheaper than pills – but you never actually know what you are getting. In Sacramento, the people who overdosed believed they were buying Norco, a different opioid that is not nearly as strong as fentanyl. However, fentanyl is extremely cheap to manufacture and pills are made from fentanyl to resemble other drugs. Only use drugs that come from a reputable pharmacy and if you find that you need drugs you cannot get from a pharmacy, it’s time to seek treatment for addiction.


  1. Manage pain without using opioids. Although it might be appropriate to use opioids for a few days in a hospital setting where dosages can be managed, there are other ways to deal with chronic pain. There is an abundance of evidence showing that meditation, exercise, yoga, and acupuncture all have pain management qualities. Using these tools will help prevent addiction from taking hold.


If you or someone you love is abusing opioid painkillers, do not wait to get help. This is an acute problem that requires immediate action. Overdose happens fast and death is irreversible. Seek treatment now.

How to Protect Yourself from Fentanyl Overdose

Richard Taite

Richard Taite is founder and CEO of Cliffside Malibu, offering evidence-based, individualized addiction treatment based on the Stages of Change model. He is also co-author of the book Ending Addiction for Good.

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APA Reference
Taite, R. (2016). How to Protect Yourself from Fentanyl Overdose. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Apr 2016
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