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What Does Fentanyl Look Like? What Does Fentanyl Look, Feel & Taste Like. Facts & Risks.

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Wondering “what does fentanyl look like?”? Read more about how long fentanyl stays in your system, fentanyl withdrawal symptoms, and overdose signs.

By We Level Up NJ Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: November 15, 2022

What Does Fentanyl Look Like?

Illicitly manufactured fentanyl has been specially designed to be more powerful than other opioids like heroin. This makes it a popular choice for drug dealers who want to dilute their product without their customers realizing it. While this might be good for the dealer’s bottom dollar, it’s actively harmful to individuals who can’t recognize fentanyl in their drugs. People can easily overdose without knowing what they’re taking, and a fentanyl overdose can be deadly without medical intervention.

Typically dealers will either steal fentanyl from local healthcare providers or make their own fentanyl at home, which can increase the risk of fentanyl overdose since it may not be chemically identical to fentanyl medication. According to the U.S. International Trade Commission report:

  • Fentanyl, fentanyl disguised as candy, and its analogs (Carfentanyl) are openly available on the internet through the public and dark web, where buyers and sellers transact sales anonymously.
  • China was the source of 97 percent of inbound shipments of high-purity fentanyl during 2016 and 2017.
  • Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are the preferred payment method, as these make transactions easier, with anonymity, instant transfers, acceptance, and currency conversion.
  • Fentanyl and new fentanyl candy drugs are imported primarily through clandestine shipments via the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), and to a lesser degree via express consignment operators (ECOs), FedEx, UPS, and DHL.
  • Given the high purity of fentanyl illicitly manufactured in China, most illicit imports are less than 700 grams (1.5 lbs.) per shipment.
  • After importation, these small batches of high-purity powder are often mixed with heroin (or other illicit drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine) or pressed into pills, including counterfeit narcotics (e.g. OxyContin, Percocet).

What Is Fentanyl? 

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid analgesic similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more powerful. It is a Schedule II controlled substance [1], and it is medically used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery. In its prescription form, fentanyl is known as Duragesic, Actiq, and Sublimaze. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) [2], fentanyl may be habit-forming. As a result, taking certain medications with fentanyl may increase the risk of developing severe or life-threatening breathing problems, sedation, or coma. What does Fentanyl look like? many forms of illicit fentanyl don’t have a specific characteristic like color, taste, or odor to help you confirm it’s the drug. 

The most recent fentanyl overdose and death cases in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl. It is sold through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect. It is often blended with heroin and cocaine as a combination drug —with or without the user’s knowledge—to increase its euphoric effects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [3], rates of overdose deaths involving fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (carfentanil) increased by over 16% from 2018 to 2019. More than 36,000 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, in 2019.

How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Your System?

How long does fentanyl stay in your system for? This is a common question that many abusers of the drug may have. Since fentanyl can be administered in so many different ways, the administration method determines how long the effects last and how long they may stay in your system. When someone who suffers from an addiction to this drug suddenly stops using it, fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can occur. It is important to remember that recovery from fentanyl addiction takes much more than simply ending drug use. The underlying causes of the addiction and the mental illness from the addiction itself must be addressed for the best chances of successful fentanyl addiction treatment and recovery.

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Fentanyl Fact Sheet

Common brand names include Duragesic, Abstral, Subsys, and Ionsys.


Is Fentanyl A Narcotic?

Yes, Fentanyl is a narcotic and it has the ability to alleviate extremely painful conditions.


Fentanyl Brands

Duragesic, Abstral, Subsys, and Ionsys.


Fentanyl & Pregnancy

Consult a physician.


Fentanyl & Alcohol

Avoid. There may be very serious interactions.

Is Fentanyl A Controlled Substance?

Yes, Fentanyl is a controlled substance and has a high potential for dependency and addiction. When consumed in high amounts or in combination with other substances, particularly alcohol or other illegal narcotics like heroin or cocaine, it can cause respiratory distress and even death.


Fentanyl Availability

Prescription only.


What Is The Drug Class For Fentanyl?

Fentanyl’s drug class is opioid.

Fentanyl Statistics

The majority of current fentanyl-related overdose cases are associated with illegally produced fentanyl, which is sold on the black market for illicit drugs due to its heroin-like effects. Due to its tremendous potency, it is frequently combined with other drugs, making them more potent, addictive, and hazardous.


150 people die every day

Every day, overdoses involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl claim the lives of roughly 150 people.

Source: Centers For Disease Control And Prevention

100 times more potent than morphine

A synthetic opioid called fentanyl is up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.

Source: Centers For Disease Control And Prevention

56,516

With 56,516 overdose deaths reported in 2020, deaths employing synthetic opioids other than methadone (mainly fentanyl) continued to climb.

Source: National Institute On Drug Abuse


Illicitly Manufactured Fentanyl

There are several different forms of illicitly produced fentanyl (IMF) on the drug market, including liquid and powder.

Fentanyl in powder form resembles several other medicines. It is frequently combined with illicit substances like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine to create pills that look like other prescription opioids. Drugs that have been laced with fentanyl are exceedingly hazardous, and many users may not be aware of this.

IMF comes in liquid form and is used in eye drops, nasal sprays, and droplets on paper or tiny candies.

Street Names For Illicitly Manufactured Fentanyl Include:

  • Apache
  • Dance Fever
  • Friend
  • Goodfellas
  • Jackpot
  • Murder 8
  • Tango & Cash

How Long Does Rainbow Colored Fentanyl Stay In Your System?

If you are wondering, “what does rainbow fentanyl look like?’, the answer is that rainbow fentanyl resembles brightly colored sidewalk chalk. Your body can retain rainbow colored fentanyl for up to 72 hours. Fentanyl is only detectable in the body for a short period of time, but drug traces linger in the body for much longer.

A number of variables also influence fentanyl’s duration in your body:

  • Dose
  • Frequency of use
  • Use duration
  • Administration method
  • Metabolism speed
  • Your weight
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Kidney and liver functioning
  • Urine concentration 

Fentanyl and fentanyl candy pills can be detected through drug tests between 24 and 82 hours after the previous usage. Hair tests can identify “norfentanyl”, a metabolite produced when fentanyl breaks down in the body for up to 96 hours or even three months.

Urine Test – The most popular form of drug testing utilized by employers is urine testing. This drug test can detect fentanyl between one to three days after use.

Blood Test – Fentanyl will appear on a blood test between 5 and 48 hours after the last use. Due to fentanyl’s short average blood half-life of 12 hours, blood tests aren’t thought to be very reliable for detecting this drug.

Hair Test – Because a hair test is more expensive than other tests, it is less frequently used. However, it can identify fentanyl or other opioids for up to three months after the last use.

Saliva Tests – Saliva testing is not considered reliable in detecting fentanyl addiction. This is because saliva tests cannot reliably detect fentanyl or its metabolites.

How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System After Surgery?

Patients who have extreme pain after surgery frequently receive fentanyl. Fentanyl can be administered intravenously, topically, or as cough drop-like lozenges. Fentanyl is nevertheless also offered illicitly in the form of eye drops, nasal sprays, tablets, powder, blotter paper, and nasal sprays that resemble other prescription opioids.

How long does fentanyl stay in your system for? Fentanyl has a half-life of about 219 minutes or just over 3.5 hours. This indicates that fentanyl typically stays in your system for 6 to 7 hours, with around half of it being flushed out after 3.5 hours. The distribution and redistribution time of the fentanyl type consumed, however, can alter this. Additionally, fentanyl addicts require higher drug dosages to achieve the same high due to their increased tolerance to standard doses.

Although fentanyl is a lethal narcotic, people still use it. Sadly, the opioid pandemic has contributed to increased fentanyl usage and overdose deaths in the US from opioids. Despite the negative side effects of abusing fentanyl, quitting without expert assistance is practically impossible due to physical dependence.

What Does Fentanyl Taste like?

There is no guaranteed way to identify what fentanyl tastes like. Different types of fentanyl mixed with different things may taste radically different, so a taste test is not an effective way to tell if something contains fentanyl. It does not have a super strong or bitter chemical taste compared to something like MDMA. Never try and smell fentanyl. or its analogs. It might be the last thing you ever do.

What Does Fentanyl Powder Look Like?

When sold as a powder, fentanyl can look at varying levels of off-white to light brown. When mixed into other powders, fentanyl tends to bring an off-brown color to the mixture.

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How To Know If It’s Real Fentanyl vs. Fake Fentanyl?

What does fentanyl look like? Illicitly manufactured fentanyl can be in powder or tablet form. Fentanyl powder is placed on blotter paper, nasal sprays, or eye droppers. Color varies from off-white to light brown, similar to illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine. Fentanyl can also be found in counterfeit pills that look like real prescription opioids.

Fentanyl can be difficult to identify, especially when mixed with other drugs. However, there are a few steps you can do to spot fentanyl:

  • First, check the color. Many illicit drugs, such as cocaine or meth, are pure white in powder forms. However, their color can change when they’ve been “cut” with another substance, like fentanyl. Usually, fentanyl creates patches of brown spots in the product. This can be useful in identifying fentanyl in drugs. However, this method is far from foolproof, but if you see brown spots in your drugs, they may be laced with fentanyl.
  • Fentanyl pills have surged into communities. These pills appear to be Oxycodone, Xanax, or other prescription drugs but are laced with fentanyl. dealers also marketed these pills as another opioid, ecstasy, meth, or benzodiazepines. Sometimes, the numbering on the pill or the color may be abnormal, which can help spot fentanyl. However, just as often, there is no clear physical difference to identify a fentanyl pill.

Fentanyl Made To Look Like Candy

The Drug Enforcement Administration is warning the general public about a disturbing new trend of candy looking fentanyl readily available around the country. Fentanyl looks like candy has been confiscated by the DEA and its law enforcement partners in 26 states since August 2022. The media has given the substance “rainbow candy fentanyl,” which looks like a new strategy drug gangs use to market extremely addictive and potentially lethal fentanyl to children and teenagers as candy.

Drug traffickers intentionally use candy colored fentanyl—fentanyl tablets and powder that come in a range of vibrant colors, forms, and sizes—to encourage addiction in children and young adults, according to DEA. Brightly-colored candy laced with fentanyl is being seized in multiple forms, including pills, powder, and blocks that resembles sidewalk chalk. Despite claims that specific colors may be more potent than others, there is no indication through DEA’s laboratory testing that this is the case. Every color, shape, and size of fentanyl should be considered extremely dangerous.

Be on Alert for “Fentanyl Candy” this Halloween

Nothing says Halloween like candy corn, carved pumpkins, and children dressed up in costumes to go trick-or-treating. But this Halloween, parents will face something much more haunting than ghosts—fentanyl as candy. Fentanyl-involved drug overdose deaths are increasing exponentially, and preliminary data from the Department of Health indicates that in 2020 they became more common than heroin deaths and those involving commonly prescribed opioids. 

Stay on the alert and double-check their children’s candy this year—not just for Halloween, but for the foreseeable future. While it is unfortunate that families in our communities can no longer solely focus on the fun traditions of Halloween, it is important to stay vigilant and keep our children safe.

Instead of worrying about children coming across fentanyl rainbow candy and fentanyl lollipops while trick-or-treating, experts say parents should speak openly and plainly with their children about drug use and staying safe. When things go unspoken or unsaid, you miss an opportunity to educate or inform about what your kid’s going through.

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What Are the Signs that Someone is Using Fentanyl?

Some of the signs someone is on fentanyl or abusing fentanyl include:

  • Euphoria followed by depression or confusion
  • Slowed heart rate and breathing
  • Weakness and trouble walking
  • Stiffness of muscles
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Shaking
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itching and scratching
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Hallucinations
  • Urine retention
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleeping problems
  • Swollen arms or legs

While the above are signs of someone taking fentanyl, long-term effects also develop if someone chronically abuses the drug. Some of these include gastrointestinal problems, a weakened immune system, and the potential for seizures to occur. With the chronic use of fentanyl, sedative effects may also increase over time. You may also notice someone is on fentanyl if they go through behavioral or mental changes, including paranoia, social withdrawal, a loss of motivation, or other personal changes.

How Is Fentanyl Taken?

Fentanyl pharmaceutical products are currently available in the following dosage forms: oral transmucosal lozenges commonly referred to as fentanyl “lollipops” (Actiq), effervescent buccal tablets (Fentora), sublingual tablets (Abstra), sublingual sprays (Subsys), nasal sprays (Lazanda), transdermal patches (Duragesic), and injectable formulations.

Fentanyl can be injected, snorted/sniffed, smoked, taken orally by pill or tablet, and spiked onto blotter paper. Fentanyl patches are abused by removing their gel contents and then injecting or ingesting these contents.

Patches have also been frozen, cut into pieces, and placed under the tongue or in the cheek cavity. Illicitly produced fentanyl is sold alone or in combination with heroin and other substances and has been identified in counterfeit pills, mimicking pharmaceutical drugs such as oxycodone.

What Does Fentanyl Look Like In Weed?

In recent years, fentanyl-laced narcotics have been in circulation in America’s illegal drug trade. Lacing any drug — including cannabis — with fentanyl increases the risk of an overdose. Whether fentanyl-laced cannabis is real or common remains the subject of controversy. As fentanyl is more expensive than cannabis, it is unlikely that a person will routinely encounter cannabis with fentanyl.

No scientific data would validate the assumption [that fentanyl-laced weed is causing widespread fatalities] thus far. However, Narcan is a drug to treat opioid overdose and can save a person’s life. Carrying it is beneficial for anyone who has concerns about overdose. The high opioid overdose rate means anyone can encounter someone who has overdosed.

It can be challenging to determine if marijuana is laced with another drug or substance. Different strains of marijuana have different colors. They also have different smells and tastes. A suspicious color or pungent smell may be a warning sign for laced weed. People who use recreational marijuana claim that rubbing marijuana against a CD shouldn’t cause scratches. If the weed scratches the CD, it may contain glass. But many impurities are undetectable by do-it-yourself tests.

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Fentanyl And Overdose

The most frequently used medicines in overdose deaths are fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. It can be fatal even in little doses. Every day, approximately 150 individuals pass away from opiate overdoses caused by synthetic drugs like fentanyl.

Fentanyl may be present in drugs at lethal amounts, yet you can’t detect it through sight, taste, or smell. Without testing your drugs using fentanyl test strips, it is practically impossible to determine if they have been laced with the opioid.

Test strips can be the difference between life and death because they are cheap and often provide findings in 5 minutes. Be cautious even if the test comes back negative because test strips might not pick up stronger fentanyl analogs like carfentanil.

Signs Of Overdose

A life can be saved by identifying the symptoms of an opioid overdose. What to look for includes the following:

  • “Pinpoint pupils” with small, tight pupils
  • Losing consciousness or going to sleep
  • Breathing that is sluggish, feeble, or nonexistent
  • Gurgling or choking noises
  • Lethargy and/or clammy skin
  • Skin coloration (especially in lips and nails)

What To Do If You Think Someone Is Overdosing

It could be difficult to detect whether someone is high or suffering from an overdose. Treat it like an overdose if you’re unsure; you might save a life.

  1. Dial 911 right away.
  2. If naloxone is available, administer it.
  3. Try to keep the person breathing and aware.
  4. To avoid choking, turn the person over onto their side.
  5. As soon as help is on the way, stay with the person.

How Is Fentanyl Addiction Treated?

First and foremost, if you think that a loved one is abusing fentanyl, you should first research the drug and its associated addiction to understand better what your loved one needs. Next, you must plan an intervention to provide your loved one with options to battle their addiction in a safe and supportive environment. During this intervention, offer compassion and support instead of judgment. Lastly, offer your support throughout the entire treatment process.

Clearing fentanyl from the body and overcoming fentanyl withdrawal symptoms is the goal of detox, which is the first step of treatment for fentanyl addiction. Here at We Level Up NJ, a comprehensive team prescribing medications as part of our medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program aims to alleviate your fentanyl withdrawal pains while monitoring your health 24 hours during the detox. We prioritize your safety and comfort because this is a fragile and challenging time for you.

Once detox is complete, a new doorway in treatment opens up, which is referred to as an inpatient drug rehab or residential level of care. Our residential care program slowly and effectively introduces the individual into an atmosphere of therapeutic growth, marked by master’s level therapists, clinicians, group counselors, psychiatrists, and a community of like-minded individuals with the same aim: to attain sobriety and live a great life.

Some of the many modalities applied and practiced within our residential treatment facility are:

Our treatment tailors the program to the individual and the individual to the program of recovery. We begin by assessing our client’s history of mental health, drugs, and substance abuse-related past. The needs of each individual are specific and personalized because we aim to provide comprehensive support for mental health, addiction, and dual diagnosis treatment. Our supportive environment is designed accordingly to give clients 24-hour care for sobriety. Most importantly, we hope to have our clients live comfortably within the facility during this crucial and fragile time.

Now that you’ve answered the question “what does fentanyl look like?” it is crucial to seek help to avoid fentanyl overdose. At We Level Up NJ, we prioritize removing the stigma and temptations for relapse and applying an air of recovery into every component of the treatment timeline. We find that clients living in a supportive community, especially during their early recovery process, can truly focus on what matters most: their recovery. 

FAQs On Fentanyl

  1. What Does Fentanyl Pill Look Like?

    If you are wondering, “what does fentanyl pills look like?”, the answer is in an effort to entice young Americans, fake pills that are laced with fentanyl are starting to resemble candy. This substance is also called rainbow fentanyl.

  2. What Does Fentanyl Laced Weed Look Like?

    If you are wondering, “what does fentanyl look like on weed?’, the answer is when marijuana is mixed with other drugs, in addition to the frequently found brown crystals, it may also contain blue or white crystals, since fentanyl is typically white.

  3. What Does A Fentanyl Overdose Look Like?

    If you are wondering, “what does fentanyl overdose look like?”, the answer is understanding the signs of an opioid overdose can save a life. Finding yourself unconscious or falling asleep, respiration that is sluggish, feeble, or nonexistent, gurgling or choking noises, lethargy and/or clammy skin, and skin coloring are all things to watch out for (especially in lips and nails).

  4. What Does Fentanyl Patches Look Like?

    If you are wondering, “what does a fentanyl patch look like?”, the answer is it is applied directly to the skin and comes in the form of a thin patch. It comes in neatly wrapped packets and is reasonably modest and transparent. The sticky side of the patch is the side that has a gel-like substance on it.

  5. What Does Pure Fentanyl Look Like?

    If you are wondering, “what does street fentanyl look like?”, the answer is that pharmaceutical-made fentanyl is a white powder. Fentanyl produced illegally might be grey, brown, or off-white in color. However, the drug is typically concealed in other narcotics, most frequently heroin, rather than being readily available in its pure form.

  6. What Does Powder Fentanyl Look Like?

    Fentanyl in powder form resembles several other medicines. It is frequently combined with illicit substances like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine to create pills that look like other prescription opioids. Drugs that have been laced with fentanyl are exceedingly hazardous, and many users may not be aware of this.

  7. What Does A Lethal Dose Of Fentanyl Look Like?

    A lethal dose of fentanyl for most people is 2 milligrams.

  8. What Does Fentanyl Look Like Liquid?

    IMF can also be purchased in liquid form as eye drops, nasal sprays, or little candies.

How long does a fentanyl patch stay in your system?

If you use a patch or lozenge, fentanyl has a half-life of 7 to 17 hours. This means it will leave your system after 36 hours.

How long does fentanyl stay in your blood system?

Drug testing can detect fentanyl, candy looking fentanyl, or its metabolites (breakdown products) in urine for 24 to 72 hours, in blood for 5 to 48 hours, and in hair for up to 3 months, but it cannot be consistently detected in saliva.

How long does IV fentanyl stay in your system?

There are many different formulations of fentanyl and rainbow colored fentanyl. This form is given intravenously (IV, directly into a vein) or intramuscularly (IM, injection into a muscle). It is used for both short-term pain management and anesthesia.

Fentanyl and candy laced fentanyl enters the bloodstream, circulate throughout the body, and ends up in the liver, where it is metabolized. When injected into the bloodstream, fentanyl and candy laced fentanyl has a short half-life of just 2-4 hours in adults. Since it takes 4-5 half-lives for a substance to leave your body completely, it takes approximately 11-22 hours to leave your system if you inject it.

How long does fentanyl stay in your system drug test?

Fentanyl and candy colored fentanyl can be detected in the following ways:

  • Urine – for eight to 24 hours
  • Blood – for up to 12 hours
  • Saliva – for one to three days
  • Hair – for up to 90 days
How long does fentanyl stay in your urine system?

As a general rule, fentanyl and candy looking fentanyl remain detectable in urine for 24 to 72 hours after a person has last used fentanyl. As such, it is essential to time a test properly. 

How long does fentanyl patch stay in system after removal?

It takes approximately 17 hours for candy colored fentanyl and fentanyl blood levels to drop by 50% once the patch is removed, so fentanyl interactions with sedatives, hypnotics, and other opioids are still possible hours after the patch removed.

How long does smoking fentanyl stay in your system?

Fentanyl might be combined with heroin or methamphetamines that people smoke. Smoking this drug makes it more difficult to control the dose, increasing the risk of overdose. The drug has a half-life of 3 to 7 hours. Excretion is 75% in the urine and 9% in the feces.

How long does street candy looking fentanyl stay in your system?

Candy looking fentanyl is any fentanyl used by someone it was not prescribed for. Candy laced fentanyl can come from two sources:

• illegal drug labs 

• patches that have been sold by

When taken intravenously, fentanyl has an elimination half-life of approximately 2 to 4 hours in adults, meaning it takes about 11 to 22 hours to leave your system. 

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Search We Level Up NJ Fentanyl Addiction & Resources
Sources

[1] Deadly High-purity Fentanyl from China is Entering the U.S. through E-commerce Channels (usitc.gov)
[2] Fentanyl DrugFacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (nih.gov)
[3] SAMHSA Opioid Overdose Toolkit
[4] Fentanyl – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
[5] Effective Fentanyl Rehab Options (welevelup.com)

Wilson N, Kariisa M, Seth P, Smith H IV, Davis NL. Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United States, 2017–2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:290–297. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6911a4external icon

NCHS, National Vital Statistics System. Estimates for 2020 are based on provisional data. Estimates for 2015-2019 are based on final data (available from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm).

Bergh, Marianne Skov-Skov et al. “Selectivity and sensitivity of urine fentanyl test strips to detect fentanyl analogues in illicit drugs.” The International Journal on Drug Policy. Vol. 90 (2021): https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.103065external icon

United States National Library of Medicine – Fentanyl

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