Reduce the risk

Ripped paper collage of multiple images that include a long exposure of lights dragging, two people crossing pinkies from the back showing only between their torso and knees, and a shadowy scene of two folks legs as they are walking from behind.

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid. It can be made illegally and used to make fake pills that look like Adderall, OxyContin, Percocet, Xanax, and other drugs. Powdered drugs, like cocaine, may also be contaminated with fentanyl.

You can't see, smell, or taste fentanyl, so any drug that's not prescribed to you by a doctor could contain a deadly dose. The safest way to prevent a fentanyl overdose is to not use drugs.

Only take prescribed pills

People sometimes seek medication as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, or pain. Don’t take pills from a friend, even if they say they’re real. If you think you may need medication, talk to a parent or trusted adult. Get a prescription from a doctor and fill it at a pharmacy.

Medication isn't your only option. If you need support with mental health or recovery, check out these resources.

Don’t mix substances

Because many fake prescription pills and other drugs contain fentanyl, combining them can be dangerous. Using more than one drug at the same time increases the risk of an overdose. So does drinking alcohol while using drugs.

Test for fentanyl

Test strips can show if a drug contains fentanyl. They are fast, easy to use, and cost about $1. When the presence of fentanyl is known, people can take steps to reduce the risk of an overdose. But they don’t guarantee that a drug is safe even if the drug tests negative, there is still a chance it could contain fentanyl or another dangerous substance.

Important! Fentanyl test strips are only legal in some states. Use this guide to check if they are legal in your state

Look out for each other

Using alone increases the risk of a fatal overdose. If a friend is taking drugs, stick around and make sure they're okay. If something goes wrong, you'll be able to get help.

Have naloxone available in case of an overdose.

Never Use Alone is a judgment-free hotline that connects people with a volunteer while they use.

Know the signs of an overdose

Do you know what an overdose looks like? The most common symptoms are:

  1. Tiny pupils
  2. Limp body
  3. Unable to talk
  4. Pale, gray, or bluish skin, lips, or nails
  5. Cold or clammy skin
  6. Breathing is very slow or has stopped
  7. Extremely sleepy or passing out
  8. Snoring, choking, or gurgling sounds

Visit to learn more about how to recognize an overdose.

Carry opioid overdose reversal medications

Opioid overdose reversal medications, like naloxone, can reverse an opioid overdose. It's safe, legal, and available without a prescription. Learn how to use naloxone and carry it with you.

Be prepared to act

When someone is showing signs of an overdose, it’s urgent to take action fast. Call 911 right away. If your state has a 911 Good Samaritan law, you won't get in trouble for trying to help. Use the Prescription Drug Abuse Policy System's map to check the law in your state.

  • Call 911, and tell them someone is unresponsive.

  • If you have naloxone, use it. More than one dose may be needed.

  • Try to keep the person awake and breathing.

  • If the person isn’t breathing, do rescue breathing or CPR if you know it.

  • Lay the person on their side to prevent choking.

  • Stay with them. When paramedics arrive, tell them what you know.