Parents beware, Rainbow Fentanyl is here in the PNW

First reported by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office and shared on social media by Hope Soldiers, a grassroots organization helping those struggling with addiction, a dangerous new form of fentanyl has made its way to the Pacific Northwest called “rainbow fentanyl,” a brightly-colored version of the highly-toxic synthetic opioid responsible for hundreds of fatal overdoses every day in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there has been least two notable seizures in the last several days in the Portland Metropolitan Area.

Rainbow fentanyl has appeared recently in several forms in cities across the country. A version seized recently in the Portland area resembles thick pieces of brightly-colored sidewalk chalk. Some versions seized elsewhere in pill or tablet form resemble candy. It is usually 100% pure fentanyl unlike the typical blue M-30 pills. There is also growing demand for fentanyl power.

Typical blue M-30 pills.

At both the U.S. southern border and in Oregon, law enforcement officers have recently seized rainbow fentanyl in two forms – pills and pressed blocks. The pills could be easily mistaken for candy, and the pressed blocks resemble the sidewalk chalk that children play with.

rainbow fentanyl
Rainbow fentanyl.

Law enforcement is not only concerned that children may mistake rainbow fentanyl as candy or a toy but are also worried that teenagers may be tempted to try the drug due to its playful coloring.

“Fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat we face today,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Jacob D. Galvan from the Seattle Field Division. “It doesn’t matter what color, shape or form it comes in; just two milligrams of fentanyl – the equivalent of 10 to 15 grains of salt – is enough to kill someone. DEA’s Portland Office is seizing record amounts of fentanyl and we will continue this important work because we know American lives are at stake.”

If your children play in public spaces, such as the local park, law enforcement is advising you to please be on the lookout for suspicious substances. If you are a parent of a teenager, please talk to them about the dangers of fentanyl, and other drugs.

If you or someone you know encounter any version of fentanyl, please refrain from handling it and call 911 immediately.

rainbow fentanyl
Powdered Fentanyl.

Opioid abuse affects communities across the nation. Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that there were more than 107,000 fatal drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2021, an increase of nearly 15% from the previous year. Synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) accounted for more than three quarters of these deaths. Drug overdose continues to be the leading cause of injury or death in the United States.

rainbow fentanyl
Source: DOJ

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. A 3-milligram dose of fentanyl—a few grains of the substance—is enough to kill an average adult male. The availability of illicit fentanyl in Oregon has caused a dramatic increase in overdose deaths throughout the state.

If you or someone you know suffers from addiction, please call the Lines for Life substance abuse helpline at 1-800-923-4357 or visit www.linesforlife.org. Phone support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also text “RecoveryNow” to 839863 between 8am and 11pm Pacific Time daily.

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