Just the Facts

Fentanyl and Narcan 101

From the illicit drug's various forms to an overdose-stopping medication.

By Angela Cabotaje With Taylor McKenzie Gerlach November 3, 2022 Published in the Winter 2022 issue of Seattle Met

Fentanyl's Alter Egos

The nefarious forms of the illicit drug.

Brightly colored pills, dubbed “rainbow fentanyl.”

Green V48 or A215 pills, meant to mimic prescription pills.

Pressed blocks, similar to sidewalk chalk.

Blue M30 pills, fashioned to look like oxycodone. 

White powder

Imitating other drugs, like cocaine and heroin. 

Image Credits: Marco Verch / Wikimedia CC and Nate Bullis 

Drug Vernacular

A glossary of common drug use and medication terms.

Buprenorphine: A medication to help treat opioid use disorder; can be prescribed and taken at home.

Fentanyl: A powerful, highly addictive opioid that’s 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

Methadone: A medication to help treat opioid use disorder; administered daily under observation at treatment programs.

Naltrexone: A medication to help treat opioid use disorder; usually taken as a monthly injection.

Narcan: Brand name for naloxone, a medicine that can reverse an overdose.

Opioids: A class of drugs, such as heroin, oxycodone, and fentanyl, that works in the brain to produce pain relief, relaxation, or a euphoric high.

Opioid use disorder: A chronic medical condition characterized by a physical and psychological reliance on opioids.

Stimulants: A class of drugs, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and caffeine, that increases activity in the brain to produce feelings of alertness and energy.

Suboxone: A brand name of a medication, a mix of buprenorphine and naloxone, used to treat opioid use disorder.

Image: Nate Bullis

More About Narcan

  • Any Washington resident can request naloxone, commonly known by its brand name Narcan, at a pharmacy sans physician prescription, thanks to a 2019 standing statewide order. All first responders also carry the drug.
  • Now-defunct Evzio’s EpiPen-style naloxone auto-injector made headlines in 2017 for charging over $4,000 per prescription. Most insurance policies cover Narcan, with the out-of-pocket cost averaging under $150 for a two-dose package.
  • Washington’s Good Samaritan Law protects against minor drug possession charges when seeking medical help to save a life, even if illicit drugs are at the scene. When in doubt, administer Narcan.

Further Reading

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