An Opioid Overdose Crisis: Cocaine Laced With Fentanyl & Drugs

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What is Lacing?

Lacing is the increasingly common practice of incorporating cheaper drugs into illegal substances. Instances of fentanyl-laced drugs have been on the rise recently, with disastrous consequences due to fentanyl’s extreme potency.

The Problem of Fentanyl and Laced Drugs

Fentanyl is a powerful drug that many choose to aid pain management. Because of its strength, many will inevitably abuse it and use it to get high. There are several dangers that accompany taking fentanyl knowingly, but many times drug users will find it added to other, supposedly pure drugs they wish to take. Ingesting fentanyl unknowingly – especially when combined with other drugs – can be deadly. It is imperative to exercise great caution when using fentanyl-laced pills or any drug whatsoever. Read on to get the full picture of what fentanyl lacing is with Avenues Recovery.

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Why Are Drugs Laced With Fentanyl?

There are several reasons why drugs are laced with fentanyl. 

Firstly, fentanyl is a cheap and very powerful drug – inexpensive in relation to its strength. Fentanyl lacing helps to keep costs of drugs down, which pleases customers. For example, cocaine laced with fentanyl is much cheaper than pure cocaine, making it more affordable for consumers.

A second rationale for why people lace drugs with fentanyl is because of its incredible potency. A small amount of fentanyl is cheaper and more potent than a large amount of other, more expensive drugs such as cocaine. This enables the customer to get a real high for a fraction of the cost – even when mixed with other types of drugs.

For some dealers, fentanyl is an effective way to get their customers addicted faster. Fentanyl is highly addictive, especially for those who are unaware it is laced into the drugs they are taking and are unable to monitor their intake. Dealers will often sell cocaine laced with fentanyl to get their customers addicted and make them come back increasingly often.

In many cases, addicts have undergone fentanyl detox treatment. Because their tolerance to the drug has been lowered, taking laced drugs can be fatal as they may take a lethal dose of fentanyl. Or, it could trigger a disastrous relapse. 

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The Dangers of Unknown Fentanyl in Street Drugs

Now that we understand why people lace drugs, it is crucial to know the dangers of laced drugs. When a drug user unknowingly ingests fentanyl, they can easily overdose and experience a myriad of health problems. Since the customer is oblivious to the presence of fentanyl in their drug cocktails, they will continue to consume laced drugs without knowing they are on a second substance.

There are many long-term effects that accompany continued fentanyl use. Some of the consequences of fentanyl lacing include:

  1. High risk of damage to many organ systems.
  2. High risk of damage to the body, because less oxygen is reaching the body tissues.
  3. High risk of overdosing and even death
  4. Worsening of mental health issues or the emergence of new mental health issues.
  5. Harm to relationships and personal life.

In addition, since the customer is unaware they are taking fentanyl-laced pills in the first place, they are more likely to experience fentanyl withdrawal symptoms as well. If they go without the substance for some time or they choose to switch to another dealer whose heroin or cocaine does not contain any fentanyl, the patient may have to deal with the painful side effects of withdrawal. 

Withdrawal symptoms from laced drugs can include:

  1. Loss of appetite
  2. Anxiety
  3. Panic
  4. Nausea and vomiting
  5. Tremors
  6. Diarrhea
  7. Runny nose
  8. Intense cravings
  9. Sweating along with fevers and chills
  10. Agitation

Without realizing that they are taking fentanyl, a drug user can easily overdose.

The best way to solve a fentanyl addiction problem is to enter a drug rehab facility that offers a comprehensive detox and inpatient treatment program. A place like Avenues can protect a person entering addiction recovery from dangers on the street like unknown fentanyl ingestion. In Avenues, a person can undergo fentanyl detox safely and comfortably, and then enter inpatient drug rehab as part of a strong and supportive community.

How Fentanyl Lacing is Driving Opioid Overdose

When a customer is unaware that their cocaine is laced with fentanyl, an overdose is much more likely. They may continue to take the substance, such as cocaine and heroin, at a normal dose, assuming they are fine. But if the dealer added a lot of fentanyl to the product, it can overwhelm the user’s body and they can easily overdose. Exacerbating this situation is fentanyl’s total lack of identifying qualities. It is odorless and tasteless, and therefore easily mixed into other drugs.

Below are some symptoms of fentanyl overdose:

  1. Extreme fatigue
  2. Altered consciousness
  3. Fainting
  4. Difficulty swallowing
  5. Dizziness
  6. Confusion
  7. Shallow breathing
  8. Respiratory arrest
  9. Cardiac arrest

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Law Enforcement on Fentanyl Lacing


Because of the real dangers and high overdose potential of fentanyl, law enforcement is ramping up efforts to end the dangerous practice of cocaine laced with fentanyl and laced drugs as a whole. It is an underhanded and dangerous way to sell drugs since the customer is totally unaware that they are ingesting fentanyl and not pure heroin/cocaine etc. Dealers caught selling laced drugs can face severe penalties, especially when it is found laced in other products and sold deceitfully to unaware consumers.


How to Detect Fentanyl in Other Drugs

What Drugs Are Laced with Fentanyl?The surest sign that a substance is laced with fentanyl is an unusually low cost as compared to normal street price. If one finds a dealer whose prices tend to be much lower than others, it is a strong sign that the substances he is selling are likely impure and laced with fentanyl.

If a drug user notices that a specific substance had an unusually strong effect on him as compared to his past experience, then the substance he took was probably laced with fentanyl. Ingesting cut/ contaminated drugs is a dangerous habit, and one should consider sourcing their drugs from elsewhere in such a case.


Fentanyl is a powerful drug that poses a danger for those who knowingly ingest it, and all the more so for those who consume it unknowingly. Its presence is very difficult to discern in opioids and other addictive substances.

Some common laced drugs include Xanax laced with fentanyl, and oxycodone, a prescription painkiller commonly known as Percocet, to be laced with fentanyl. Furthermore, LSD is also used like fentanyl, to be cut with other drugs. Fentanyl laced weed has also become very popular amongst drug dealers and users. To determine if the drug is laced with fentanyl, fentanyl test strips are an accurate and effective way to detect if the drug is laced with fentanyl.

Addiction Help at Avenues Recovery

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, help is available and recovery is always possible. You do not need to keep yourself bound by the chains of addiction. Reach out to Avenues Recovery Center to begin your journey home today.



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