Xanax Laced With Fentanyl: Dangers Of Counterfeit Alprazolam

Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Last year, over 71,000 Americans died of a fentanyl-related overdose, out of more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths that occurred in the United States total.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s 50 times more potent than heroin, and 100 times stronger than morphine.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), fentanyl has increasingly been found in counterfeit drugs, including fake pills sold as alprazolam (Xanax) and Adderall.

Taken together, the drugs alprazolam and fentanyl can be a lethal combination. If you or a loved one is misusing counterfeit pills, here’s what you need to know:

What Is Counterfeit Alprazolam?

Counterfeit alprazolam, or Xanax pills, are illegally manufactured drugs that are made to look identical or similar to prescription Xanax medication.

Counterfeit Xanax is also known by street names such as:

  • zanies
  • bars
  • zanbars
  • z-bars
  • benzos

While prescription Xanax is legally prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders and panic disorder, counterfeit alprazolam is not prescribed.

What Does Counterfeit Alprazolam (Xanax) Look Like?

According to the DEA, counterfeit alprazolam can look similar to the prescribed medication, but they don’t always look identical.

Counterfeit pills/tablets are typically rectangular, in the shape of small bars. And while prescription alprazolam may be white in color, counterfeit pills are often yellow.

Authentic, or prescribed Xanax, may also come in the form of a syrup or injectable application.

What Does Xanax Laced With Fentanyl Look Like?

Fake Xanax pills laced with fentanyl may be indistinguishable from other fake Xanax pills. This can make purchasing fake Xanax pills particularly dangerous.

What Is The Difference Between Xanax And Fentanyl?

Xanax (alprazolam) belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. They depress the central nervous system (CNS), which is composed of the brain and spinal cord.

Xanax is legally prescribed to treat mental health issues such as anxiety and panic attacks. It can also help relieve insomnia and control seizures.

Fentanyl Is An Opioid

Fentanyl belongs to the opioid drug class. It is another depressant also available by prescription, but the majority of fentanyl overdose deaths stem from illicitly manufactured fentanyl.

Fentanyl is very strong, and can be addictive. Even small amounts can cause overdose and be lethal if taken by someone who has not built up a tolerance to opioids.

According to law enforcement officials, medical professionals, and harm reduction advocates, illicit fentanyl has increasingly been found in illicit drugs.

Fentanyl-laced drugs may include:

  • heroin
  • counterfeit drugs (e.g. fake Adderall, Xanax, prescription opioids)
  • methamphetamine
  • cocaine
  • marijuana
  • psychedelics/hallucinogens

Dangers Of Taking Fentanyl-Laced Xanax

The biggest danger of taking fentanyl-laced pills is the risk of drug overdose, which is even more likely to occur if you don’t typically use opioids.

Benzodiazepines and opioids — including prescription painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone — can be a deadly combination, due to the fact that they both depress the CNS.

Side effects of mixing fentanyl and Xanax can include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • slow, shallow or stopped breathing
  • sedation
  • irregular vital signs (i.e. low heart rate or blood pressure)

These side effects are also signs of an overdose, which can be deadly. If this occurs, the primary way to treat this is with naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug.

If administered quickly, naloxone (Narcan) can reverse an overdose and prevent fatal outcomes.

Treatment For Xanax And Opioid Abuse

Xanax is one of the most commonly abused prescription medications. When abused chronically, it can become addictive and lead to substance use disorder.

If you or someone you know is misusing street drugs, getting help for substance abuse as soon as possible is strongly encouraged.

Find Help For Xanax Abuse Today

At Bedrock Recovery Center in Massachusetts, we offer top-rated detox and residential treatment programs for prescription drug abuse and addiction.

Our goal is to meet people with addiction where they are, and help them heal from addiction through a holistic, evidence-based treatment approach.

For more information, call our helpline today to speak with a specialist about our addiction treatment center.

  1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — U.S. Overdose Deaths in 2021 Increased Half as Much in 2020 - But Are Still Up 15% https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/nchs_press_releases/2022/202205.htm
  2. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — Sharp Increase in Fake Prescription Pills Containing Fentanyl and Meth https://www.dea.gov/alert/sharp-increase-fake-prescription-pills-containing-fentanyl-and-meth
  3. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — One Pill Can Kill https://www.dea.gov/onepill

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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