Rainbow fentanyl has become the latest Halloween boogeyman because of unfounded fears about it.

Put away scary movies, haunted houses, and decorations that look too real. For many people, trick-or-treating can be the scariest thing ever because they are afraid that drugs are in the candy.

Professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware Joel Best said, “We don’t really believe in ghosts and goblins anymore, but we do believe in criminals.” “We tell scary stories about Halloween criminals to scare each other, and it works. It links the scary things that are at the heart of the holiday to fears that people have today.”

Even though it’s normal to hear people worry about what a child might get when they go trick-or-treating, there has been a lot of false information going around this year.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warned the public in August that there are brightly colored fentanyl pills that look like candy. These pills are now called “rainbow fentanyl.” The DEA warned that the pills were a plan by drug cartels to sell addicting fentanyl to young people and children.

Two children sort through Mars Inc. and Hershey Co. brand Halloween candy in an arranged photograph taken in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. Costume-sellers appear to be facing one of their scariest fall seasons in a long time, even as confectioners could see sales hold steady from past years, with some candy brands even expecting an uptick. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Even though the agency didn’t say anything about Halloween in particular, people are still worried about this holiday because of what the DEA said.

Drug experts, on the other hand, say that Halloween is not a new time for kids to be worried about fentanyl.

Best said that in all the years he’s spent researching this topic, he’s never found “any evidence that any child has ever been killed or seriously hurt by a treat found while trick-or-treating.”

Brandon del Pozo, an assistant professor of medicine and health services at Brown University, says that the pandemic, crime rates, and the overdose epidemic all contribute to a general feeling of fear and paranoia.

“There are just enough true things about fentanyl in this story to make it interesting,” del Pozo said. “It has a lot of power. There are a lot of fake pills that are causing fatal overdoses, and the cartels have added color to these pills. And companies that sell tobacco and alcohol have used color to market their products to younger people.”

Dr. Ryan Marino, a medical toxicologist, emergency doctor, and addiction medicine specialist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, also brings up the upcoming midterm elections.

“It also seems to have become very political,” he said. “This is a very tense election year, and partisan politics are at a very high level.” “It also looks like fentanyl is being used for political reasons.”

Sheila Vakharia, who is the deputy director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s department of research and academic engagement, says that the attention false information about rainbow fentanyl gets takes away from the real overdose crisis.

She said that more than a million people have died from drug overdoses in the past 20 years, and the number of overdose deaths is only going up. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that nearly 92,000 people will die of a drug overdose in 2020.



“When we hear about fentanyl in the news and see that people are dying from overdoses involving this drug, she said, we should think, “How do we keep people alive?” “How do we keep the people who are most likely to die from exposure from dying?””

Experts think that parents don’t have much to worry about when they take their kids trick-or-treating on Halloween and that the attention around rainbow fentanyl will die down, but it’s almost certain that false information about drug-laced candy will come back from the dead.

“I don’t think rainbow fentanyl will be around in a year,” said Best. “But should we worry about getting sick on Halloween? Absolutely. Every year, we worry about it.”

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