Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Yesterday was national Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day. Marcy Hurlburt, a drug treatment counselor with the lE Phillips-Libertas Treatment Center, says the drug was originally developed as a pain medication, typically used to treat chronic pain and for people recovering from surgery.

It’s a synthetic opioid that she says is incredibly powerful. Over the past few years, it’s been added to drugs like heroin making them stronger. Those who take the drugs aren’t always told they have fentanyl in them. 

“It’s not like the government, where they put a label on it saying what’s in the item. So, when you don’t know what’s in the drug you’re taking, and you’re used to taking a certain amount to get high, you’re more likely to overdose because you’re not gauging what you’re going to feel or what you’re supposed to take.”

Hurlburt says fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin. Even an amount the size of a tip of a pen could cause someone to overdose.