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Can accidental fentanyl exposure lead to drug overdose?

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2024 | Drug Charges

Fentanyl is a type of opioid, which is a depressant for the central nervous system. Accidental exposure to it can happen through skin contact or inhalation. But can an accidental exposure lead to a dangerous drug overdose?

Symptoms of an opioid overdose

Over 107,000 people died in the United States in 2021 due to drug overdoses. Of those fatal overdoses, 75% dealt with opioids. In addition, most opioid overdoses were due to fentanyl or fentanyl-related substances. In Maryland, 2012 people died from fentanyl overdoses from March 2022 to March 2023.

An opioid overdose is a high-risk situation that involves any, some or all of these symptoms:

  • The brain not getting enough oxygen
  • Loss of consciousness
  • A body going limp or having the inability to move or stand
  • The slowing or cessation of the heart rate
  • The stopping or severe slowing of breathing

Once an alleged overdose victim shows these symptoms, it is crucial to seek or provide emergency care. Witnesses may call 911, begin rescue breathing or administer naloxone.

Misinformation on accidental exposure

Since an overdose is life-threatening, it is vital to clarify if accidental fentanyl exposure can lead to one. According to the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center, experts debunked this claim.

The risk of overdose is very low when the accidental exposure is via skin contact. A fatal dose would occur if the exposure happened for a much longer time and covered a greater surface area. Additionally, accidental exposure after inhaling fentanyl has a low risk of causing an overdose.

Facing a drug charge

Exposure to drugs and other controlled substances is risky because it is a criminal offense to possess, sell, distribute or make them. If you are dealing with a drug charge, getting legal counsel can empower you to exercise your right to defend yourself.

Moreover, you may dispute the evidence and question the search and testing procedures. You could also mention circumstances such as accidental exposure and other exceptions as you aim to protect your name and record.