An opioid overdose requires immediate medical attention. Call 911 immediately if you or someone you know exhibits any of the symptoms.

Synthetic Opioids

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, synthetic drugs are substances that mimic the effects of illegal chemicals. Learn more about the dangers of synthetic opioids.

Yellow text that reads "Every batch is a mystery"

About Synthetics

Synthetic drugs, also known as designer drugs, are chemical compounds produced in a laboratory. They can be produced commercially by drug manufacturers for valid medical purposes however illegally produced synthetic drugs can mimic or even enhance the effects of natural illicit drugs, such as marijuana.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified more than 200 synthetic drug compounds and more than 90 different synthetic drug marijuana compounds. They may contain stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic properties.


Terms and Additional Info

Synthetic drugs are typically either synthetic cannabinoids, sometimes referred to as synthetic marijuana or “vaping,” or synthetic cathinones, more commonly known as bath salts.

Visit for a more extensive list of synthetic drugs.

A lethal amount of fentanyl sitting next to a penny

Fentanyl and Fentanyl Analogues

In 2020, the number of deaths caused by drug overdoses increased by 27%, according to preliminary findings from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Of the 654 opioid-caused overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020, 593 (90%) involved synthetic opioids and were involved in more than half of all drug overdoses.

What is Fentanyl?

From the National Institute on Drug Abuse: Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.

The illegally used fentanyl most often associated with overdoses is made in labs. It can be sold illegally as a powder, dropped onto blotter paper, put in eye droppers and nasal sprays, made into counterfeit pills that look like other prescription opioids, or mixed with other drugs (i.e. heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA) to increase potency.

Due to its strong ability to produce a high, fentanyl is seen as a cheaper drug option however it is especially risky when people taking drugs do not realize they might contain illegally produced fentanyl and can be more likely to overdose.

MN Department of Health info >

Fentanyl FAQs >

Signs of an overdose >

Reversing an Overdose

Every death caused by an opioid overdose is preventable. The life-saving drug, naloxone, can reverse the effects of an overdose when properly administered.

Naloxone is free, legal to obtain and possess, and widely available at pharmacies across the state. Visit the link below to learn how to acquire naloxone and find resources for training.

Injectable Naloxone

What are Opioids? Learn more about the opioid epidemic in Minnesota.