Don’t Pick Up Money Lying On The Ground—It Could Be Laced With Fentanyl

By Melody Rose··  5 min read
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With inflation heating up this summer, many of us are in no position to decline a dollar. However, there’s one very dangerous instance in which you should.

Not a Lucky Penny

The other day, I was scrolling through Facebook when an eye-catching post caught my attention. There was a picture of a woman lying debilitated in a hospital bed. In the caption, the woman, Renee Parsons, shared her story, which was also recently covered in Newsweek and many other media outlets.

Renee and her family were driving through Nashville, Tennessee when they decided to make a pitstop at McDonald's to use the restroom. She was standing outside the bathroom with her 3-month-old baby waiting for her husband. When Renee looked down, she saw a dollar bill on the ground. As we all would, she picked it up thinking nothing of it. When her husband came out of the restroom, she put the dollar in her pocket, went into the restroom and washed her hands, but neglected to dry them thoroughly. 

When they got to the car, Renee took the dollar out of her pocket and placed it in the car door. As she began telling her husband about her stroke of luck, she suddenly felt an alarming burning sensation within her shoulders that quickly spanned throughout her body. Panicking, she turned to her husband and declared that she needed to get to the hospital as she was feeling “really funny.” Her body immediately went numb, and her breath grew labored until she passed out.

If you see money on the ground, don’t touch it, especially if the dollar bill is crumpled or folded.

Fortunately, Renee’s husband was able to rush her to the emergency room and they were able to nurse her back to stabilized health. Her experience was filed as an accidental drug overdose. When reporting this incident to the police, the officer informed her that either the dollar bill was accidentally dropped after it had been used to cut and store drugs (possibly fentanyl), or it was purposely left with drugs on it. Renee believes the mixture of her partially wet hands, the alcoholic wipes she used in the car, and the lingering drugs on the dollar bill created the perfect concoction to provoke such a severe reaction. Either way, she’s determined to use her experience as a warning to others to never touch money found on the ground, as it almost cost her her life.

Of course, after reading about this horrific event, I was curious if this was a unique circumstance or if it was becoming a pattern. What I found is that this has been a pattern detected in other locations as well and reported within the past few weeks. 

Another case occurred in Orange Beach, Alabama. A family was enjoying a relaxing vacation at the popular destination when their 13 month old picked up a folded dollar bill. At first, no one thought anything of it. The toddler’s mother retrieved the dollar and placed it on the table. One member of the family had heard about the dollar lacing tragedy through Facebook and warned his family not to touch it. Another member then flicked the folded bill across the table and that’s when a white powdery substance came out. Police were then called, who confirmed it was in fact a fentanyl-filled dollar.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid. Originally a prescription drug, it’s become more popular for selling on the streets because of its similarity to morphine, its potency (50-100 times more potent), and its cheapness to make. Medicinally, it’s used to treat patients with chronic or severe pain, either in a shot, a skin patch, or as lozenges. Fentanyl is also an ingredient in epidurals. 

In 2017, 59% of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl.

Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids have become increasingly responsible for drug overdose deaths. In 2017, 59% of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl up from 14.3% in 2010. When sold illegally, synthetic fentanyl is usually in powder form, put in eye droppers or nasal sprays, or in pill form. It’s also common for other drugs like cocaine to be cut with fentanyl because it’s cheaper to make, but it also increases the risk of overdosing.

Fentanyl overdose can lead to life-threatening conditions, and due to its potency, it doesn’t take much. Other effects of fentanyl include drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, problems breathing, and unconsciousness.

How To Protect Yourself and Others

This situation is a very serious matter, and what’s worse is no one would believe it’s something that could happen to them (the above victims attest to that). Therefore, the best way to be proactive is to be aware. By reading and sharing this news, spread the word so others are aware of the risk. If you see money lying on the ground, don’t touch it. Talk to your children about the importance of not touching money they see on the ground, especially if the dollar bill is crumpled or folded. If you do see a dollar bill that looks suspicious or has white powdery residue on it, report it to your local police as soon as possible. These are the best measures to keep yourself and your loved ones safe!

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