By Marianne Gouveia, Founder, EricsHouse


August 21st was national Fentanyl Awareness and Prevention day, created by the US DEA to help raise awareness around the Fentanyl crisis in our country. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin, and 100 times more potent that morphine. “It is the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “From large cities to rural America, no community is safe from the presence of fentanyl.”


Quick facts:

  • Criminal drug networks are mass-producing fake pills and falsely marketing them as legitimate prescription pills to deceive the American public.
  • Counterfeit pills are widely available, and law enforcement and their partners are seizing deadly fake pills at record rates.
  • Counterfeit pills are more lethal than ever before. The number of DEA-seized counterfeit pills with fentanyl has jumped nearly 430 percent since 2019. DEA lab testing reveals 2 out of every 5 pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose.

According to the CDC, an estimated 107,622 people in the US died of drug overdoses and poisonings in 2021, with 67 percent of those deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Only two milligrams of fentanyl are a potentially lethal dose. Two milligrams are equivalent a few grains of salt.

Overdose deaths are the leading cause of death for Americans 18-45 years old. Fentanyl is involved in killing more Americans than any other cause of death including cancer, heart disease, and accidents. It is alarming that Fentanyl is responsible for more deaths in American youth than heroin, meth, cocaine, benzos, and prescription drugs. Our youth, ages 14 to 23 have the fastest rate of fentanyl-related deaths.

Drug traffickers are mixing fentanyl with other illicit drugs—in powder and pill form—to drive addiction and create repeat customers, many people who are overdosing and dying don’t now they are taking fentanyl. A few grains of this drug are being mixed with common recreational drugs often used by teenagers and young adults. Fake pills have been found in all 50 states and are being sold on-line, and they look identical to the real pill.

Because the drug cartels are flooding the market with fentanyl, Fentanyl’s ultra-high potency makes it among the most addictive drugs. Fentanyl is cleared from the body rapidly, and withdrawal symptoms come on fast and intense, not long after the last dose. This makes the drug even more addictive because users will seek the next dose soon after their last dose to stop the withdrawal, thus establishing the addiction cycle early on.


What Can We Do?

Talk Openly About Drugs: Talking openly with your family, especially your children, about using illicit drugs should be a priority. Educate them on fentanyl and how is it used to addict people. Let them know that you cannot always be certain that a drug has been laced with a few grains of fentanyl because it is hard to tell the difference by sight, taste, smell, color or feel. There are many fentanyl test kits that test powders, crystals, granules, flakes, pills, tablets, or liquids. If you suspect someone you love is using fentanyl, encourage them to use a test kit so they can be sure that they will be safe.


Recognize the Signs of Addiction

Different people become addicted at different rates. Some addicts try to prevent addiction by letting time pass between usages of strong opiates and others feel compelled to use the drug continuously once they start, which walks them straight into addiction. As with any opiate, the main symptoms of fentanyl abuse are euphoria, drowsiness, lethargy, and mellowness.

If you suspect someone you care about is abusing opioids that may include fentanyl, get them help right away. There are many organizations with expertise to help people shed themselves of an addition using a variety of medical treatments and holistic therapies.

Become Part of Education Campaigns. There are many advocacy groups that create campaigns to help raise awareness around the Fentanyl crisis.  “One Pill Can Kill” campaign led the DEA. The Fentanyl Awareness Day organization (  You can also find many groups in social media that are working hard to raise awareness.

At EricsHouse, a nonprofit that works will families bereaved by alcohol, drugs, or suicide losses, we are seeing more fentanyl loss than ever. Not only do we see people who are struggling with addiction die from fentanyl overdoses, but we see people who innocently take a drug not knowing it contained fentanyl who pass away. Even more alarming is the fact fentanyl is being used the drug of choice for suicide.

If you have been impacted by a loss, consider getting involved in awareness efforts in your community. Getting involved helps spread the word. Take advantage of local and national resources to guide you to support someone in recovery. If you are bereaved by someone who died by Fentanyl, visit EricsHouse