U of M Fentanyl FAQ

There have been a significant number of overdoses and deaths related to legal and illicit fentanyl use across Winnipeg, Manitoba and Canada.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a potent prescription synthetic opioid, used primarily to treat severe pain. It is up to 100 times stronger than other drugs such as heroin, morphine and oxycodone.

Where does Fentanyl come from?

In Manitoba illicit fentanyl powder is being imported from overseas.

Fentanyl is also obtained by sale of legitimate prescriptions, theft of prescriptions, theft of the drug from institutions, double doctoring, fraudulent prescriptions, as well as purchasing from dark websites and illicit production.

Drug dealers often sell fake versions of drugs that contain unknown and varied amounts of fentanyl and other toxic substances, without the buyer knowing.

Why should I be concerned?

Cocaine, oxycodone, club drugs, heroin and other drugs you may choose to use can be cut with fentanyl in powder, liquid or pill form.

You can’t see it, smell it or taste it. If the drug you are using has been cut with fentanyl or has been unintentionally contaminated with fentanyl, it can kill you. A deadly dose is equal to 2 grains of salt.

Can I test my drugs for fentanyl?

No, there is no rapid detection test that is currently available for general use.

What does a fentanyl overdose look like?

Signs of an overdose include:

  • severe sleepiness, the person can’t walk or talk or their body is limp
  • no response to yelling or rubbing knuckles on the centre of their chest
  • slow or no heartbeat
  • slow or shallow breathing, trouble breathing, or no breathing; gurgling or snoring sounds
  • cold, clammy skin or bluish lips
  • vomiting
  • pupils that are very small or eyes are rolled back

What should I do if I think someone is overdosing?

Always call 911 immediately.

Be prepared to give rescue breaths if the person stops breathing and/or administer naloxone (Narcan) if available.

What is Naloxone?

Naloxone is a medication that can reverse the effects of opioids, such as fentanyl. Take- home naloxone may be available for illicit drug users. However, it doesn’t work every time and the effects of the naloxone may not last as long as the opioid.

More information about Naloxone

If I choose to use, what advice can you give me?

For your own health and safety, we always advise that you avoid all illicit drugs. However, if you do choose to use:

  • never use alone
  • start with a small amount
  • do not mix substances, including alcohol, as it increases risk of overdose
  • call 911 right away if you think someone is overdosing
  • make a plan and know how to respond in case of an overdose
  • use only where help is easily available
  • be prepared to give rescue breaths and/or, if available, administer naloxone (Narcan) until help arrives

I'm concerned about my own drug use, who can I talk to?

There are many non-judgemental and confidential supports available to you on or off campus. An important first step to a healthier life or recovery is reaching out for help:

On Campus:

Addictions Foundation of Manitoba Community Support Worker
Tara Nieman c/o
Student Counselling Centre, 474 University Centre, 204-474-8592

University Health Service, 105 University Centre, 204-474-8411.

Student Counselling Centre, 474 University Centre, 204-474-8592

Off Campus:

Manitoba Addictions Helpline
Toll-free 1-855-662-6605

Addictions Foundation of Manitoba
General Enquiries 204-944-6200
Toll-free 1-866-638-2561

Health Sexuality and Harm Reduction, Public Health
Main Floor, 496 Hargrave Street

For more information please see:

Fentanyl - Know your source