Fentanyl Is Everywhere: What You Need to Know


Baneen Saedi, Fine Arts Scout

Fentanyl is a very big deal in the Tucson community.  More than 3.5 million fentanyl pills were seized in Arizona alone in just August. That is enough fentanyl to kill nearly every single person living in the state of Connecticut.   Just this year in Pima County there were over 400 overdoses from fentanyl. Fentanyl is stronger than morphine by 50-100 times. “Fentanyl is the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered,” said Administrator Anne Milgram.  “Fentanyl is everywhere.”  When people take fentanyl for the first time, it is very easy for them to overdose. Fentanyl was originally used as pain medication for cancer patients, but nowadays people buy fentanyl because it is cheaper and easier to get than heroin. What does fentanyl look like? You can find fentanyl in a powder substance that looks like many other drugs. But now people are making rainbow fentanyl; rainbow fentanyl is colored like Skittles. The colors that are mostly used are pink, purple, yellow, and turquoise.

The reason why the fentanyl pills are colored is to trick middle schoolers and high schoolers that they are candy so they can buy them, or probably so they can overdose and rob them. Common signs of someone having a fentanyl overdose are slow, shallow, or weak breathing or no breathing at all. Not being able to wake up, losing conscientious, and saying the person’s name very loudly but not being able to wake up are also signs of an overdose, as well as having discoloration on lips and nailbeds or tips of fingers.

Sahuaro HS nurse, Sally Duncan, says, “Teens are targeted by the drug trafficking organizations by manufacturing colors, shapes that appeal to the teens. Teens think they are getting legitimate prescription meds such as Oxycodone, Adderall, or Xanax but are buying counterfeit pills laced with Fentanyl and methamphetamine. The drug trafficker uses social media to distribute the pills. Snapchat is used because it provides anonymity, disappearing content, and no third-party monitoring. A “menu” is posted by an anonymous person, orders are received directly on the app and all of it disappears in 24 hours.”  This is important information for parents to know.

Naloxone or Narcan acts to reverse an opioid overdose from fentanyl, heroin, or prescription opioids. ANYONE can use it without medical training or authorization.  Nurse Duncan explained to Sahuaro staff at a recent training for professional development session where Narcan can be found on campus:

  • The yellow box, under the AED in the mail room – one dose of prefilled Narcan nasal spray.
  • The Health Office “Go Bag” when we get called to a classroom – one nasal dose and 2 injectable doses.
  • The Health Office medicine cabinet – one dose of pre-filled nasal spray
  • Monica Pita, Athletic Trainer has 1 nasal spray and 2 injectable doses
  • All School Safety officers
  • All Tucson Police Officers
  • All Tucson Fire Department personnel
  • Anyone can carry and use Narcan

“Assume ANY drug not purchased directly from a pharmacy can potentially contain fentanyl.”