According to a CBS News report, the counterfeit Xanax pills that killed one person and put eight others in the hospital between October and December of 2015 were perfect replicas of the real thing. These fake Xanax bars match the real ones in size, color, and pharmaceutical markings. However, they did have one major difference: these counterfeit Xanax pills were laced with fentanyl and did not contain any of the anxiety-treating drugs of original Xanax. Considering the harm that fake drugs can cause, today we wanted to share how to spot fake Xanax bars and the signs to look out for.
What Is Counterfeit Xanax?
Most people who sell drugs illegally typically find different ways to produce their products cheaply and easily. To do this, many drug dealers dilute or cut their products with other substances, creating a weakened copycat of the drug they can sell for higher profit. Usually, the cutting agents used to cut drugs are mild, such as baking soda and baking powder, for instance.
But in the case of fake Xanax, fentanyl was used. But why? Sadly, dealers may also cut their products with more addictive drugs, such as fentanyl, to keep their customers coming back for more.
Fentanyl is an opioid that’s up to 100 times stronger than morphine and heroin and is, unfortunately, widely accessible. During the opioid epidemic, fentanyl has wreaked havoc throughout the country, impacting the lives of millions. As a Schedule II drug, fentanyl is available with a prescription, but it’s only used in extreme cases to treat chronic pain or pain associated with cancer.
When used as directed, fentanyl is administered with either a patch or in oral form. Sometimes it’s infused into lollipops to help cancer patients better endure their pain and treatments. Due to its potency, fentanyl can be deadly when abused or used in large doses.
As with other drugs, fentanyl may be stolen or obtained illegally by other means, sold on the streets, and used by drug dealers as a cutting agent. The influx of illicitly manufactured fentanyl from overseas was an especially recognized issue in 2016 and remains a problem today.
Like other opioids, fentanyl is highly addictive, which makes it difficult for users to quit regardless of any obvious repercussions or deterioration in their health. In addition to the euphoria and pleasurable sedation produced by fentanyl, other side effects of the drug include:
- Dizziness and confusion
- Respiratory depression
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
- Itching or hives
- Difficulty sleeping
When used for long periods, physical dependence on fentanyl can develop. When this happens, addicted users find it difficult to stop using the drug without medical detox. Opioid withdrawals also tend to be highly uncomfortable and challenging to manage without professional care, which is why so many relapse before they can fully detox.
Within months a fentanyl addiction can take place. Over time, not only does one’s health deteriorate, but their relationships, career, and finances do, as well.
How to Spot a Fake Xanax Bar
Knowing how to spot fake Xanax is important if you take Xanax regularly. And while we in no way approve of drug abuse, being able to spot the fake stuff from the real stuff can also mean the difference between life and death. It only takes a few grams of fentanyl to overdose, and when taking counterfeit pills, the obscurity of the ingredients increases this risk. With this in mind, below are some common signs of fake Xanax to look out for.
- No pharmaceutical markings: The most common way to spot counterfeit Xanax pills is by looking at the markings. Real Xanax pills should have a diamond-cut design with no other markings or numbers around them. “XANAX” should be stamped at the center of the diamond without any protruding lines.
- Different markings from pharmaceutical Xanax: While some fake Xanax bars do have logos, the “XANAX” logo should have a three-dimensional appearance. If you flip the pill over and the letters are flat, it’s probably a fake pill. However, some counterfeit Xanax pills may appear differently than others, so this issue may not be the only indicating factor. If you were to open up the pill, you should be able to see markings from the other side of it inside the pill. If not, then it's fake.
- Different coloring: Real Xanax has a slightly opaque color that looks either white or peach. It’s not a completely transparent color, but it should look almost like the color of the pill itself. If you notice any Xanax pills that are darker or lighter than your pill, then they’re fake. Another way to spot fake Xanax bars is any color variation. The color of the pills should be consistent and smooth throughout, with no variations like lines, dots, or spots of missing color.
- Differences in weight: When comparing fake and real Xanax pills, a fake pill will usually be heavier. Authentic Xanax weighs about 0.5 grams. They’re also usually bulky, which makes them slightly difficult to hold between your fingers, but not too bulky, heavy, or thin.
- Misspelled labels and altered lettering: It’s rare for authentic Xanax to have misspelled words. If you notice any parts of the text on the pill are misspelled, blurred, flat, or inconsistent with the design, then it’s fake. The same applies if there are any noticeable gaps or missing letters. Then it’s probably fake as well.
Another obvious sign that you have fake Xanax is if the pill doesn’t dissolve in water after a few minutes. Authentic Xanax usually dissolves in water almost instantly. If it doesn’t do this or only dissolves partially, then it’s probably fake.
Fake Xanax also shatters quickly under pressure, whereas authentic pills take a significant amount of pressure to shatter. Odd or misshapen pill bottles can also indicate that the drug comes from a non-trustworthy source.
Help for Prescription Drug Addiction
When taken as prescribed, Xanax is beneficial to people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), panic disorders, and insomnia. But when used recreationally, this drug can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Once an addiction kicks in, because of withdrawals, it can be difficult to quit even if the repercussions are realized.
If you or someone you care about is addicted to Xanax or opioids like fentanyl, our Palm Springs, CA, drug rehab offers prescription drug detox and addiction treatment that can help. We usually start patients off with detox to physically prepare them to abstain from drugs and alcohol during inpatient treatment.
Withdrawals are often difficult to overcome both mentally and physically without medical care, so we prioritize this step and follow all the appropriate protocols to make sure patients remain as safe and comfortable as possible. Psychotherapy and individual and group therapy then follow detox to help patients overcome the psychological ties to addiction and teach them how to live fulfilling and sober lives.
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