Harm reduction

February Updates from Syringe Access Services

There are many myths about fentanyl in San Francisco. Get the real info, here.

Fentanyl Myth Busting 

By Syringe Access Services

There is a lot of misinformation and myths surrounding Fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate and has risen in popularity over the past few years. Unfortunately, misunderstanding about this drug has only increased stigma and sensationalism. Some myths are that fentanyl is “laced” in many drugs. This is simply not true. Another myth is that people aren’t actively using fentanyl as a drug of choice, and that it is a “contaminant” in the drug supply, rather than a drug people use by choice just like any other drug.

Fentanyl myths, facts, tips and tricks

You cannot get high or overdose by touching fentanyl!!

Fentanyl needs to get into your bloodstream or through your mucus membranes for you to feel the effects and get high. This is done by injecting, smoking, or snorting fentanyl. The powder cannot be absorbed through your skin. 

(Fentanyl patches from a doctor are different from fentanyl powder and have been made in a way that allows for absorption through your skin.)

The idea that  “Fentanyl is in everything” is a myth!! Fentanyl is not in all drugs!! 

Human error can occur, people can get their white powders mixed up.

Mixing up equipment can happen as well. For example people often smoke meth out of bubble pipes, and people who use fentanyl may also use bubble pipes. The white residue in the pipe can look similar for both substances and someone who smokes meth could pick up the wrong bubble pipe and actually bend up smoking fentanyl when they thought it was meth. 

Tips and tricks:

Smoking: If you are sharing bubbles/pipes make sure you mark your pipes in some way, like with a sharpie or nail polish. Keep one pipe for Fent and one for Meth.

This way you can avoid someone thinking its meth, when its really fentanyl and ODing because they do not have a tolerance since they don’t normally use opiates and were not expecting an opiate.

Our drug supply is unregulated and inconsistent. 

Pills bought on the street, like Xanax, can contain fentanyl. Fentanyl test strips can be reliably used for testing pills like Xanax and M30’s, cocaine, and heroin when used correctly. 

They are an unreliable method for testing meth. 

There is no evidence that there is fentanyl in the San Francisco meth supply.

Carry Narcan and know how to use it.  

Naloxone will work on all opioids, and fentanyl is an opioid.  

Narcan works on fentanyl and all fentanyl analogues!!!

Carry Narcan and know how to use it. 

You cannot overdose by breathing in fentanyl that’s been kicked up into the air. 



About the author

San Francisco AIDS Foundation

San Francisco AIDS Foundation promotes health, wellness and social justice for communities most impacted by HIV through sexual health and substance use services, advocacy, and community partnerships. Each year more than 21,000 people rely on SFAF programs and services, and millions more access SFAF health information online.