What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid medication primarily used to manage severe pain. It is highly potent, much more than other opioids like morphine and heroin, which makes it an effective painkiller in small doses. This also makes it incredibly dangerous, especially when used without medical supervision, or when illegally manufactured and sold on the streets. 

The Kenosha County Medical Examiner's Office reports 38 of the 58 overdose deaths in 2022 involved fentanyl and/or a fentanyl analog.

How can I be prepared if I encounter fentanyl?

If you come across fentanyl or suspect its presence, it's crucial to prioritize your safety and that of others. Here are some steps to take:

  • Do not ingest or inhale Fentanyl: Fentanyl is dangerous when ingested by snorting it (inhaling), swallowing it or injecting it into the bloodstream. Avoid touching suspicious substances.
  • Leave the area: If you find yourself in a location where fentanyl is suspected, immediately leave the area.
  • Notify authorities: Report the location of the suspected fentanyl to law enforcement or emergency services.
  • Educate yourself: Learn to recognize the signs of fentanyl exposure and overdose. This may include extreme drowsiness, difficulty breathing, pinpoint pupils, and unconsciousness.
  • Carry Narcan: Narcan is an opioid overdose-reversal medication that can save lives when administered promptly. If you're in an environment where there is a risk of encountering fentanyl, carrying Narcan and knowing how to use it can save a life. Watch the 2-minute WI Department of Health Services (DHS) video Dose of Reality: How to Safely Administer Narcan.
  • Support others: If you know someone struggling with opioid use disorder, encourage them to seek professional help and support them in their journey to recovery.

See the Fentanyl is Everywhere and Can Kill page for more information on Fentanyl and to download the flyer.

Fentanyl Test Strips 

Fentanyl test strips, which allow for the testing of other substances for the presence of fentanyl, are available along with Narcan from Kenosha County Public Health. View the Narcan Distribution Program page for more information.

Where can I find additional resources?

For parent resources, check out the Parent's Guide to Fentanyl, available in English (PDF) and Spanish (PDF)