The Drug Enforcement Administration is now issuing a public safety alert, the first in six years, because of an increase in counterfeit pills.
The pills are made to look like prescription pills but can contain deadly doses of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.
The DEA’s Phoenix Field Division is now reporting they’re seeing more pills with potentially deadly doses of the drug.
2 in 5 pills containing potentially deadly dose
Special agents in charge of the DEA’s Phoenix Field Division said two out of five pills, about 42%, agents are seizing are now containing a potentially deadly dose of fentanyl.
Oz said that’s up from about 26%.
“When they’re putting fentanyl into pills there is no recipe that’s being followed,” Oz said. “With two milligrams being a potentially lethal dose, some pills get five milligrams, some pills get one milligram. You don’t know what you’re going to get.”
6 million fake pills
So far this year, Oz said agents working across Arizona have seized 6 million pills in 2021 alone.
“It’s very cheap to purchase and it’s so easy to get. From your phone, from an app, you can order up anything you want and have it delivered to you,” Oz said.
Oz said often people are looking for oxycodone, Xanex or Adderall, and instead they’re getting fentanyl.
“It’s highly addictive,” Oz said.
This is why the DEA is announcing their ‘One Pill Can Kill’ public awareness campaign, warning of the dangers of counterfeit pills.
The DEA said methamphetamine is also being found pressed into counterfeit pills as well.
“Don’t take one of these pills, teach your kids not to take one of these pills,” Oz said.
“We have to start with that – education: this could kill you,” Oz said.
In November of 2020, Jason Mulder said he lost his 18-year-old son, Jaden to fentanyl.
“It owns him,” Mulder said. “And to watch him try and come off of that drug you can see that it controlled his brain.”
Mulder said Jaden started vaping when he was 16 and eventually got into harder drugs.
“He was only on the fentanyl for no more than six or eight weeks when he realized it was taking over his life, he couldn’t go a couple of hours without a hit,” Mulder said.
Mulder said it was in September of last year when Jaden called and wanted to get clean.
“He said, ‘Dad I’m done, I hate this, I hate my life, I don’t want any part of this anymore and I’m ready to come home,'” Mulder said.
Jaden came home to Snowflake, Ariz. and the family worked with him to help him detox from fentanyl. After a few weeks, Mulder said Jaden was making progress.
“Internally had a great desire to make a big difference in the world and we got to see that his last three months of life,” Mulder said.
Right before Jaden died, Mulder said he was looking forward to working and had just asked a young woman to formally be his girlfriend.
“It wasn’t the last pill that killed him, it was the first,” Mulder said. “It was the first one that he took that killed him because that’s what it took over his life.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Helpline may be able to help. You can call them at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Facts about drugs can be found at Just Think Twice, here.
The DEA is also hosting The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on October 23. The DEA said often misused prescription drugs were taken from family and friends’ medicine cabinets. You can find a location to drop off old prescription drugs here.
The CDC has resources for opioid addiction and opioid-related overdoses here.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office also keeps information and resources here.
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