Carfentanil is a relatively new drug out on the streets, but it has been making the news a lot in a short time. The risks it poses is cause for great concern. In fact, it is more potent than heroin, fentanyl and morphine, which has many worried about the dangers for anyone looking to buy drugs from dealers.
History of Carfentanil
Carfentanil is such a powerful drug one of its primary uses is to sedate elephants and other large animals. It was first developed in 1974 through a team of chemists employed with Janssen Pharmaceutica. The drug has 10,000 times more potency than morphine, and it is an analog of fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid. Pure carfentanil is similar to table salt, and only a few grains are needed to achieve a high. The substance has also been used to subdue hostages. It has been seen throughout Europe and Russia with numerous deaths being contributed to the drug. Wildnil is the market name for carfentanil, which is significantly more dangerous than fentanyl, even though it belongs to the same category of drugs. Both carry an even higher risk than morphine.
Use of Carfentanil
The drug is deadly and has been linked to numerous fatalities. And yet, it’s being sold on the streets by drug dealers. Many drug manufacturers are mixing it with heroin and selling it as heroin. The drug functions as an opioid painkiller even though it’s not prescribed for human use. It works by slowing breathing and reducing the functioning of the central nervous system. Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is popular on the street. It is a dangerous substance and often linked to overdoses and emergency room visits. One of the reasons it is dangerous is because many drug dealers and manufacturers mix it with other substances to make more money. One of those substances has been fentanyl in recent years. Now, carfentanil is also being discovered in synthetic heroin. Carfentanil is so deadly that even a few grains can result in an overdose. The problem has reached epidemic proportions in the Midwest with as many as 48 overdoses in just one day in Hamilton County, Ohio. Responders are even wearing protective gear when treating victims to prevent accidentally overdosing themselves. While the substance is in the same category as heroin and even prescription drugs like OxyContin, it is much more deadly than the others. One reason for its newfound popularity is because it is easy to manufacture in a lab and doesn’t cost a lot to create. The main problems with carfentanil are being seen in places like Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky. Originally, the drug is coming from China through Mexico and South America. It’s often ordered online. Some experts speculate it may also be made in labs in Mexico.
Why Carfentanil is Gaining Popularity
Drug manufacturers are moving away from organic drugs and moving towards synthetic substances that are easier to make and less expensive. Instead of waiting for them to grow out in nature, these substances can be created in the relative safety of a lab. The demand is also increasing as more people are suffering from prescription pain medication addiction. When they can no longer obtain prescriptions for their medication, they seek out illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl. The results are much more powerful, which leads to more addiction. The effects last longer for carfentanil because it takes more time for the body to metabolize it. This means a high that lasts longer, which encourages users to keep using. Overdosing is harder to treat as well because of the extreme power of the substance. It often takes two or three doses of naloxone to stop the effects. Naloxone is a medication used to bring people back from heroin overdose.
Signs and Symptoms of Usage and Overdose
Since the substance is mixed with heroin, it can appear in all the same forms. It may be a powdery substance or liquid and can be injected, snorted or even smoked. Because of its high potency, medical personnel wear gloves, goggles and other protective gear to keep from being exposed. Carfentanil doesn’t necessarily cause addiction because of its severe reaction, but it is the mixture with other substances like heroin that keep people addicted. Because of the small amount needed and the likelihood of overdose, it is difficult for experts to study the drug and the effects on people. The substance binds to the brain’s opioid receptors, which occurs even more rapidly than with heroin and other drugs. Breathing is slowed, which is why overdose is common. Signs of overdose happen within minutes of using the substance. Symptoms include the following:
- Sudden drowsiness
- Slow breathing
- Clammy skin
- Feeling disoriented
- Pinpoint pupils
If these symptoms are noted immediately following use of a drug, immediate medical help is needed. The sooner naloxone is administered, the better the chance of survival. However, multiple doses of the antidote may be needed to get a response from the addict. While users don’t get addicted to carfentanil, they can become addicted to other opioids, such as heroin, morphine and fentanyl. This increases the risk of exposure to carfentanil, which could lead to death.
Getting Help for Addiction
Even though it has always been important to seek help for an opioid addiction, the risk is even greater with carfentanil on the streets. Addicts need to seek out a treatment center to help with overcoming addiction. It begins with detoxification, which cleanses the body from the substances so treatment can begin. Treatment for opioid addiction begins after the person detoxes. It’s impossible to scare the person into not using drugs, so explaining the dangers of heroin mixed with carfentanil won’t have the desired impact. Instead, the person’s condition must be treated. This usually means several types of therapy, including individual counseling and group therapy. Therapists work with the person to overcome addiction by developing positive ways of dealing with stress or other situations that trigger the need for the substance. Many times drug addiction and mental disorders go together, and both conditions must be treated. Heroin addiction is particularly difficult to treat because of the highly addictive status of the substance. Successful programs are usually residential treatment centers where the person receives 24-hour monitoring and support. Relapse prevention is also an essential part of the process to ensure the person doesn’t start using again. Heroin addicts often have to continue treatment even after completing the initial program. They may attend counseling sessions with therapists or through 12-step programs. Former addicts must be aware of the risk of relapsing and maintain a strong support system to help them maintain recovery. With the introduction of carfentanil, the need for treatment of heroin and other opioid addiction becomes even more important. The risk is even greater for overdosing and death by users who aren’t aware of what substances are in their drugs. Family members and friends of addicts should be aware of the newfound danger that comes from purchasing heroin off the street and how carfentanil is being mixed. Talk to your addicted friend or family member and get them to see the need for help. No one wants to die when they seek out a high, but that is what is happening with the addition of carfentanil, a deadly substance not meant for human consumption. Seek help right away to save your life or that of a loved one. The Oceanfront Recovery Addiction Treatment Program can help you or your loved one through the process of recovery from addiction. Our clinicians focus on bringing the underlying causes of addiction to the surface with a modern and effective recovery program in a closed setting. Contact Oceanfront Recovery today for a confidential assessment, and begin the journey of recovery today.