Fentanyl is widely understood to be an extremely dangerous drug. Marijuana is often perceived to be a far less harmful substance. But what happens if they are combined? Can weed be laced with fentanyl? And if it can, what hazards would it pose to users?
What Is Fentanyl?
Before we explore if weed can be laced with fentanyl, let’s take just a moment to quickly review what fentanyl is and why it’s so dangerous.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid. Doctors sometimes use it to treat people who are experiencing severe pain, often in the aftermath of surgery or due to certain types of cancer. To underscore fentanyl’s potency, doctors don’t usually prescribe this drug to patients until they have built up a tolerance to other opioids.
Unfortunately, fentanyl is often illegally manufactured and abused for recreational purposes. This has contributed to dramatic increases in overdose deaths in the United States.
For example, from 2015-2021, the annual number of overdose deaths in the U.S. rose from 52,404 to 106,699. More than 70,000 of the overdose deaths that were recorded in 2021 involved fentanyl or other synthetic opioids.
Can Weed Be Laced With Fentanyl?
One of the reasons why fentanyl overdose deaths have increased so significantly is that the drug is often combined with other substances, often without the user’s knowledge.
Can weed be laced with fentanyl? Yes, marijuana is one of the many drugs that have been mixed with fentanyl. Since marijuana can be legally purchased in many states, the danger of acquiring fentanyl-laced weed is primarily limited to those who buy the drug from illegal sources.
Why Would Someone Lace Weed With Fentanyl?
After asking, can fentanyl be laced with weed, a common follow-up question is, why would someone do this? Here are two reasons why someone would lace weed with fentanyl:
- Users may do so to heighten the effects of the marijuana
- Dealers may do so to increase their profit margin (by selling more powerful weed at a higher price)
Whether a person uses fentanyl-laced weed intentionally or without realizing that their marijuana has been combined with this synthetic opioid, the potential damage can be catastrophic.
What Are the Dangers of Weed Laced With Fentanyl?
When someone consumes weed that has been laced with fentanyl, two of the greatest risks are addiction and overdose.
The Danger of Fentanyl Addiction
Opioids are highly addictive substances. Even when a person receives fentanyl for a legitimate medical purpose under the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider, they risk becoming addicted.
The likelihood of developing opioid use disorder (which is the clinical term for fentanyl addiction) is considerably higher among those who abuse illicit fentanyl for recreational purposes.
When a person becomes addicted to fentanyl, they may experience a range of symptoms, including tolerance and withdrawal. Both of these symptoms occur after their body becomes adapted to the presence of fentanyl in their system:
- Tolerance means that when a person takes fentanyl, their body has less of a reaction than it used to. To achieve the effects that they desire, they then have to take increasingly larger doses of the drug.
- Withdrawal refers to the painful physical and psychological symptoms that a person experiences when they abruptly end their fentanyl abuse, or when they can’t acquire and use the drug. Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms usually begin to appear within 12 hours of a person’s last dose.
The distress of withdrawal can keep someone trapped in the downward spiral of compulsive fentanyl abuse. Increased use of the drug can elevate their risk for overdose.
The Danger of Fentanyl Overdose
Overdose occurs when the amount or potency of a drug exceeds the ability of a person’s body to safely metabolize and eliminate it. In the case of fentanyl, overdose can occur any time someone uses the drug. This includes if they unknowingly use weed that has been laced with fentanyl.
Signs of fentanyl overdose include:
- Extreme disorientation
- Loss of consciousness
- Inability to be awakened
- Slow or shallow breathing
- Slow heart rate and faint pulse
- Cool, clammy skin
- Bluish coloration near the mouth and fingertips
A fentanyl overdose can quickly lead to death. Anyone who overdoses on fentanyl needs immediate medical attention.
How Is Fentanyl Addiction Treated?
Overdose isn’t the only fentanyl-related concern that merits professional care. Anyone who becomes addicted to this synthetic opioid can also benefit from treatment.
For many people, the path to recovery from fentanyl addiction begins in a detoxification, or detox, program.
Detox is a short-term experience that is designed to help people get through withdrawal as safely and comfortably as possible. During detox, patients may receive both medical and therapeutic support to help them manage their discomfort and prepare for the next phase of treatment.
After detox, a person may transition into an inpatient, residential, or outpatient program. If they receive care for fentanyl addiction at Nashville Treatment Solutions, their outpatient options will include:
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Outpatient program (OP)
In each of these outpatient programs, people can develop the skills that will help them avoid their triggers, manage cravings and other addiction symptoms, deal with challenges in a healthy manner, and resist relapse.
Outpatient treatment is also an ideal environment for discovering the power of sharing support with other members of the recovery community.
Find Addiction Treatment in Nashville, TN
Nashville Treatment Solutions offers personalized care and compassionate support to adults who have become addicted to fentanyl and other opioids. Our comprehensive outpatient programming in Nashville, Tennessee addresses the physical, psychological, and social aspects of addiction and recovery.
When you’re ready to start living a healthier and more hopeful life, the Nashville Treatment Solutions team is here for you. Visit our contact us page or call us today to learn how we can help.