This Dangerous Myth About Fentanyl Just Went Viral

A recent video from the San Diego Police Department has gone viral on a variety of platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and boasts 3.4 million views on Youtube. The video is comprised of mostly bodycam footage of a July 3rd incident. It is intercut with interviews and narration from the two officers involved. In the video, a trainee officer is said to have been exposed to Fentanyl and suffers an intense overdose reaction. When the highly dramatic clip was released and shared millions of times across multiple platforms, it sparked further conversation about this long-held belief about drugs, specifically synthetic, lab-produced, highly potent drugs like Fentanyl; can touching Fentanyl cause you to have an overdose?

This video would suggest so, but in the wake of its viral spread, many medical experts are saying otherwise. In this age of misinformation, it is important to have the facts, especially with these potentially dangerous situations.


The Clip That Started It All

The short video was posted to YouTube on August 5th, 2021 on the official channel for the San Diego County Sheriff’s department and has since racked up close to 3.5 million views. The video features a senior officer and a deputy in training on their first call of the day. The deputy recovers a white substance that the senior officer then states tested positive for Fentanyl. Whether it is pure Fentanyl or a mix of Fentanyl and other substances is unknown. The senior officer then offers a common warning to the deputy, not to touch the Fentanyl because it is “no joke.” The video then cuts to the deputy on his back, presumably overdosing from either touching or inhaling the drug. The senior officer administers naloxone and calls for an ambulance.

This incredibly harrowing video serves as a cautionary tale about how dangerous this drug is. While medical experts are saying the reaction is “something else”, the video accomplishes the task of creating a viral response. Medical experts agree that a Fentanyl overdose cannot be caused by momentary skin contact.


Is There Any Truth To The Myth That Touching Fentanyl Can Kill You?

Pure Fentanyl is up to 100x more potent than heroin, but medical experts from NBC and ABC News, as well as the Washington Post, say that an accidental skin exposure cannot lead to an overdose. Rather, Fentanyl overdoses are caused by ingestion of pills, inhalation of powder, and intravenous injection of the substance. Though inhalation could be a cause of this overdose, these medical experts say that Fentanyl would have to be in the air in a large quantity and for a long time, neither of which are present in the video. Though the accidental skin exposure overdose is a myth, the CDC still recommends using PPE such as nitrile gloves, and medical N95 masks for emergency responders when handling Fentanyl. The CDC also recommends washing any accidentally exposed skin immediately with soap and water and treating with alcohol to sanitize.


What This Video Gets Right

Overall, this video highlights the dangers of Fentanyl, even if some of the information is inaccurate. First and foremost, the senior officer’s response to his colleague’s overdose is by the book. He administers Naloxone and calls for an ambulance. These are two of the most critical steps when faced with a Fentanyl overdose. Then he talks with the officer, working to keep him calm and breathing. Again, two more tools necessary in the fight against a Fentanyl overdoes. And while this video sparked more questions than answers, it shows you how dangerous Fentanyl can be. Ultimately, the video created a dialogue that was needed.

The Fentanyl crisis is no joke. And just like this video, it’s sweeping across the nation quickly. You, or someone you know, might be seeking help for an opioid addiction. And if so, you’ll need a partner to help you survive the ups and downs. If that is the case, look no further than Fritz Clinic. With more than 35 years of experience, we are a dependable partner. Fritz Clinic is where you go for help. Call us or fill out our contact form and let Fritz Clinic help you on your journey back to wellness.