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Fentanyl is a synthetic (man-made) opioid that is more toxic than most other opioids, and can be prescribed by a physician to help control severe pain. Fentanyl is also being produced in illegal labs and sold on the streets, often mixed with other drugs. Increasingly, fentanyl is being detected in overdose deaths in BC.

About Fentanyl

Why is fentanyl dangerous?

Fentanyl is around 20 to 40 times more toxic than heroin and 50 to 100 times more toxic than morphine, which makes the risk of accidental overdose higher. When fentanyl is combined with other opioids (like heroin, morphine, methadone or codeine), alcohol, benzodiazepines, or cocaine or methamphetamines, it can further increase the risk of accidental overdose. Combining substances (including alcohol), intentionally or unintentionally, increases overdose risk.  It’s also important to be aware that drugs other than fentanyl can also be lethal, and that there is no quality control or regulated manufacturing process for illegal drugs.

Where is it coming from?

Illicit fentanyl is manufactured in clandestine overseas drug labs, both overseas and in Canada. It may be cut into powders or pressed into pills prior to being sold.

Where is it found?

Fentanyl is sometimes sold as fentanyl but other illegal drugs can also contain it, including heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, crack or meth. It may be in drugs that are in powder, liquid or pill form.

These drugs may contain toxic contaminants or have different levels of fentanyl in each batch. Even pills produced in the same batch may have little to lethal levels of fentanyl.

What can you do?

Be aware that drugs obtained from anywhere other than a pharmacy or a hospital may not be what you think they are, or what others believe them to be.

Learn how to  recognize and respond to a drug overdose.

See our tips for safer substance use.


  • Fraser Health Overdose AlertMarch 19, 2018 • Posted by MK

    An increased rate of overdoses requiring administration of Naloxone has been observed at the SafePoint supervised consumption site on Friday March 16. Use of white heroin has been noted as a potential risk factor.
    Use less than you normally would

    • Do a tester; try a little before your regular amount
    • Try not to use alone, and if you do, have someone check on you 
    • Stagger use with friends so someone can respond if needed
    • Know the signs of overdose (early signs may include unusual snoring, or taking less than 1 breath every 5 seconds)
    • Call 9-1-1 quickly when you notice something isn't right (the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides immunity from simple possession charges for those who call 911 in the case of an overdose)
    • Provide breaths (every 5 seconds until the person regains consciousness or help arrives)
    • Get naloxone from these locations:         


Know Your Source

Know Your Source

A fentanyl campaign from public health and law enforcement agencies. 

Opioid Overdose Awareness

Opioid Overdose Awareness

Our web page features risks, signs and how to respond.