Counterfeit Pills

If you have a teen or young adult in your life, please take the time to read on:

The drug overdose crisis (in Maine and elsewhere) is not just affecting people who inject drugs, people who take large quantities of pills, or even people who use any kind of drugs on a regular basis.

Increasingly, overdose victims are people who have taken a fake prescription pill. And you only have to do it once: with fentanyl in the drug supply, one pill can kill.

Here’s what you need to know:

First, for background: a lethal dose of fentanyl is only about the size of a couple grains of salt.

If it doesn’t kill you, its effects are very strong and addictive, which is why criminal networks are pressing fentanyl into pills, passing them off as brand names like Adderall® (and other “study drugs” popular with college students), Oxycontin®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Xanax®, and more.

They then sell the pills on social media and e-commerce sites that anyone with a smartphone can access – including minors. Parents, here is a PDF that the DEA put together with several dozen common emojis used to represent different drugs:

(click above or here to view PDF)

In 2021, the U.S. DEA seized more than 8 million fake prescription pills. When tested, 40% of the pills that contained fentanyl were potent enough to cause immediate death. In all, the DEA has seized enough fentanyl so far in 2021 to provide a lethal dose to every American.

While the DEA works to get these deceptive and deadly drugs off the street, you can help save lives by spreading the word.

Please know – and make sure your loved ones know – that the ONLY safe medications are those that come from licensed and accredited medical professionals and are purchased from a licensed pharmacy. Medications obtained in any other way are illegal, dangerous, and potentially lethal.

One pill can kill – but a word of warning, shared with the right person at the right time, might just save a life. So please – share this information.

Learn more about counterfeit pills at dea.gov/onepill and more about fentanyl on our fentanyl page.