(WJW) – As Halloween approaches, it can be a scary time of the year, but even more alarming is a growing trend of dangerous street drugs that can be made to look like candy.
So-called “rainbow fentanyl” is brightly-colored and potentially deadly in small doses.
In August, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued an alert that drug cartels were using colorful pills to sell highly addictive fentanyl made to look like candy to children and young people.
But even the DEA and a local doctor we spoke to say parents should not be concerned about finding it in their kids’ trick-or-treat bags this Halloween.
“Parents should have conversations with their kids about fentanyl and about drugs because we are seeing increasing rates of fentanyl use and overdoses in kids. The discussion about the Halloween candy, though, is kind of a distraction,” said Dr. Ryan Marino, an emergency physician and addiction specialist for University Hospitals.
Dr. Marino says concerns that people could give out rainbow fentanyl to children this Halloween is unfounded.
“There’s some sort of quote, unquote Halloween sadism myth where people are giving away either drugs or trying to poison kids or putting razor blades in things and these have been extensively debunked,” said Dr. Marino.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin. An amount equal to 10 to 15 grains of table salt is considered a lethal dose.
This summer, the DEA did issue an alert that brightly-colored fentanyl pills have shown up in 26 states, including Ohio.
“Ecstasy tablets, there’s plenty of pictures that I think people can think of where these can look even more like candy and less like actual pharmaceuticals and again, they were never targeted towards children. Adults also like brightly colored things,” Marino said.
Dr. Marino says dealers also produce fake pills in bright colors to make them look like real medication.
“They do come in certain colors and they usually do mimic prescription drugs because actual legitimate prescriptions do come in different colors as well,” he said.
Even though rainbow fentanyl is often disguised in candy boxes for transport, Dr. Marino says there’s another reason why he doubts anyone would give it out to trick-or-treaters.
“When it comes to fentanyl and other drugs, these are pretty expensive and so the pills that have been kind of put forth in the DEA press release can sell for $30 each on the street, and so for someone just to be giving these out for free would be a bad business model,” said Dr. Marino. “We heard the same thing with marijuana edibles that look like candy.”
Dr. Marino and the DEA say it is always good to have a conversation with your children about the dangers of drugs, especially because they are more likely to get a hold to them in other ways.
Bottom line, he says talk to kids and don’t worry about keeping them home for Halloween.