Pills and a syringe
Published On: July 25, 2017|Categories: Substance Abuse|

Street drugs are, unfortunately, a continuous problem in the US. Because so many of them are often crafted in illegal laboratories, they are not only unregulated but are highly dangerous. One batch of a drug may be much stronger than another batch of the same drug, or, the substance may be mixed with something else – something as harmless as baking flour or more potent like cocaine – to increase the amount of a certain batch.

Ultimately, there is no consistency in what street drugs include. This is not only risky, it is highly life-threatening due to the potential presence of dangerous chemicals. From the naked eye, there is no way to tell the difference between heroin or the potent drug carfentanil.

What is carfentanil?

Carfentanil ranks as one of the most dangerous drugs on the streets today. It was created for the sole purpose of tranquilizing large mammals such as elephants so that animal-keeping professionals and veterinarians could offer them appropriate care. When you consider the size of an elephant and the dose needed to knock it out temporarily, it is not hard to imagine what effects carfentanil would have on a human in comparison.

According to the DEA, “Carfentanil is a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act and is used as a tranquilizing agent for elephants and other large mammals.  The lethal dose range for carfentanil in humans is unknown.  However, as noted, carfentanil is approximately 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which can be lethal at the 2-milligram range, depending on the route of administration and other factors.”

To further put it into perspective, carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, and can quickly cause an overdose death even amongst opioid users who have an increased tolerance due to long-time use.

Needless to say, it is an incredibly dangerous substance.

How is carfentanil dispersed?

“Gray death” is a potent mixture of heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil and the latest drug cocktail causing fatal overdoses across the country. Drug dealers are passing off carfentanil as heroin to users, causing a significant increase in overdose fatalities among unsuspecting individuals.

The drug comes in powder, spray, tablets, patches and blotter paper and can easily be absorbed through the skin or accidentally inhaled. Officials from the US Drug Enforcement Agency are warning law enforcement, other first responders and health officials to handle suspected carfentanil and fentanyl incidents with extreme caution. Even inhalation of the substance or brief contact with the skin can cause death.

It may be hard to imagine this potency, but consider this image – the fatal dose of fentanyl for humans (2mg) is approximately the size of a pinhead. If carfentanil is 100 times stronger than that pinprick dose, it should be no surprise that even close proximity to such a visceral chemical will cause the body to start shutting down.

What are the signs of carfentanil poisoning?

Because there is no safe level of exposure to carfentanil, overdose is nearly synonymous with exposure, especially if one comes into physical contact and/or uses the substance (intentionally or not).

Symptoms of exposure to carfentanil may include:

  • Respiratory distress or arrest
  • Disorientation
  • Sedation/drowsiness
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Weak pulse or no pulse

Naloxone, or Narcan, frequently used by first responders in cases of heroin overdoses, is not as effective as carfentanil and fentanyl and often must be dosed repeatedly as heroin is much milder in its comparative effects on the body. Carfentanil acts very quickly and symptoms occur within minutes of exposure. If you suspect exposure to carfentanil, call 911 immediately.

Carfentanil vs. fentanyl

As previously noted, one of the significant differences between fentanyl and carfentanil is their potency and safety.

Under no circumstances is carfentanil approved for human consumption. Even the most microscopic amount can be lethal.

Fentanyl, on the other hand, has been cleared for human consumption, but in the most minuscule dose with strict medical supervision. It is used in hospital settings when the patient’s body is resistant to all other opioid medications. However, like carfentanil, fentanyl has found its way into the illegal drug market and caused numerous overdose fatalities.

What can I do about drug addiction?

Both of these drugs, carfentanil and fentanyl, are incredibly addictive, but most users suffer the life-threatening effects of these substances early on. In order to avoid the consequences of severe opioid drugs, it is most prudent to seek help for addiction before one becomes too tolerant of certain drugs, including heroin and other opioids.

To get help for substance use and addiction, consider researching treatment centers like High Focus Centers. With personalized treatment plans, you will find support and maintained recovery to help overcome addiction. Contact us to learn more by calling our offices at (877) 393-1650 or visiting our website to get in touch with someone today.

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