A man holds a set of pills wit the words Danger written on them

The widespread abuse of prescription painkillers factors as the root cause of the ongoing Opioid Epidemic, and continues to be a major problem today.

Over 17,000 Americans died in 2016 alone from prescription painkiller overdoses, which accounted for more deaths than heroin that same year. (1) As disturbing as these numbers are, they fail to account for the number of overdose deaths caused by counterfeit prescription pills.

Here we discuss the disturbing trend of fake prescription pills that are providing yet another tragic contribution to the number of people lost to the Opioid Epidemic.

What are counterfeit prescription pills?

Prescription painkillers, such as Oxycontin, Dilaudid, and Vicodin, typically have street values Caution tape lines some fake prescription drugsmuch greater than drugs such as heroin or fentanyl.

The DEA has recently reported that drug traffickers have begun investing in pill presses that replicate the pill markings found on common prescription painkillers in order to pass them off as the real deal.

Often times, these pills can be indistinguishable from the real prescription pills in which they mimic.

What makes this trend so dangerous?

Prescription pill abusers typically fall into a false sense of security that the pill in which they are using has a specific amount/strength of narcotic. In reality, counterfeit prescription pills almost never contain the drug or relative strength of the pill they seek to mimic.

To make matters even worse, the DEA reports that the most common drug used in fake pills is fentanyl. (2) Fentanyl is extremely lethal in small doses, and currently is responsible for the greatest number of deaths in the Opioid Epidemic. (3)

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Is the danger only limited to prescription painkillers?

No. Counterfeit prescription pills are not simply limited to prescription painkillers. Rather, any prescription pill commonly abused bought from the street carries the risk of being a counterfeit pill. An unfortunate example of this occurred in Mount Hermon, California in October 2018.

A man was found dead from a fatal fentanyl overdose. Counterfeit Xanax pills containing fentanyl, described as being indistinguishable from real Xanax, were found with his body. (4)

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2679931
  2. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2018-07/DIR-040-17_2017-NDTA.pdf
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0329-drug-overdose-deaths.html
  4. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-uphill-fight-against-fake-prescription-drugs-1539009351