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Fentanyl Laced Xanax Leading to Overdoses in Pinellas County, FL

Melinda Morris
By: Melinda Morris
Mar. 25 2016

Prescription Pills

According to Pinellas County law enforcement, a Xanax counterfeit drug has hit the streets of Pinellas County in recent months. Since January nine persons have overdosed on a combination of Xanax and fentanyl. Law Enforcement has reason to people the users were unaware the pills were laced with fentanyl.

What is Xanax?

Xanax, also known as Alprazolam, is a prescription medication used to treat anxiety, disorders, panic disorders, and anxiety caused by depression. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, Xanax-related deaths have increased in Florida substantially from 2003-2009. During this time, deaths from prescription drugs increased from 7.3 per 100,000 to 13.4 per 100,000 people. The death rate for Xanax/Alprazolam increased by 233.8 percent.

What is Fentanyl?

While the death rate for Xanax is startling, fentanyl is especially lethal. Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate used to treat patients with severe and/or chronic pain. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) fentanyl is 100 times more powerful than morphine. From 2012-2013, fentanyl was involved in 543 deaths in the state of Florida, alone.

Fentanyl is so potent that it is not administered orally. Fentanyl is administered through a transdermal time-released patch. The patch administers the drug in small doses over the course of days. Due to the potency of the drug, fentanyl should be taken under the supervision of a licensed physician. Unless directed by a physician, fentanyl should not be taken with any other drugs.

Why is There a Health Risk?

According to the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), the combination of Xanax and fentanyl is poses particular risk for overdose. As an opioid, fentanyl suppresses breathing and other involuntary functions and Xanax reduces alertness and impairs reactions.

Pinellas law enforcement officials have stated that eradicating recreational drug use and drug abuse is impossible, but they would like to alert the public of the health and safety risks of using the fentanyl laced Xanax.

Are The Any Other Risks With Using Xanax and Fentanyl?

In addition to the health risks of using Xanax and fentanyl, possession of these drugs without a valid prescription can result in serious criminal charges. Individuals in possession of Xanax and/or fentanyl can result in criminal charges, including possession of a controlled substance, prescription drug trafficking, and/or prescription fraud or doctor shopping.

Xanax is considered a Schedule IV substance. Schedule IV substance have a medically accepted use and have a mild risk for psychological or physical dependence. Other common Schedule IV controlled substances include Valium and Soma. Possession of Xanax (or any Schedule IV drugs) is a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.

Fentanyl is a Schedule II drug. Schedule II substances have an accepted and limited medical use, but a high potential for abuse. Because of the high potential for abuse, a conviction for possession of a Schedule II substance has more severe criminal penalties.

Possession of fentanyl and other Schedule II controlled substances may be considered a second degree felony. A second degree felony is punishable up to 15 years in state prison, a fine up to $10,000, and a driver license suspension. Other common Schedule II substances include codeine, opium, and morphine.


Melinda Morris and Seth Shapiro of the Morris Law Firm, P.A.  are Pinellas County criminal defense attorneys. The Morris Law Firm diligently defends individuals facing any drug-related charge, including possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, drug trafficking, drug possession with the intent to sell, and prescription drug trafficking.

The attorneys at the Morris Law Firm, P.A. work hard on your behalf and do not settle for the easiest outcome. They will fight persistently to have your charges reduced or dropped.

The Morris Law Firm, P.A. proudly represents clients throughout Pinellas County, including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Largo, Pinellas Park, Palm Harbor, Dunedin and other surrounding areas. Call (727) 388-4736 or submit an online form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.


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