Carfentanil is so deadly a 10 milligram dose can subdue or even kill a 15,000-pound elephant. That same-sized dose, when diluted enough, is enough to kill hundreds of people. To take just a single human life, all it takes is a dose smaller than a poppy seed. Federal officials even fear that carfentanil, the most powerful commercial opioid in the world, could be utilized as a chemical weapon.
In recent years, carfentanil, which is used to tranquilize large animals, has been claiming casualties in an entirely different war, the opioid epidemic. People have been succumbing to this dangerous substance without their knowledge as drug dealers often lace heroin and cocaine with it.
People have been able to purchase carfentanil over the internet from distributors based in China, even though the substance is banned over there. What’s more, news of its illicit use came to bear with reports of hundreds of overdoses in states like Ohio, Florida, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Florida. Carfentanil also was a key ingredient in a drug dubbed “Grey Death,” a toxic mix of opioids that looks like concrete mixing powder.
As the most powerful opiate of all, carfentanil is an insidious substance. It is colorless and odorless, yet accidental contact through the skin can cause life-threatening complications. It only takes exposure to a dose of carfentanil no greater than a grain of salt to send someone into respiratory arrest or depression.
In fact, carfentanil is so dangerous that it compelled the U.S.Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to issue a safety alert to first responders and law enforcement personnel who may come into contact with the substance. When veterinarians administer it to animals, they wear gloves and face masks to avoid exposure.
Nevertheless, those who ingest it, either accidentally or on purpose, will almost always experience overdose. Ultimately, carfentanil use comes with one side effect: death.
Carfentanil was first synthesized in 1974 by a team of chemists at the Belgium-based pharmaceutical company, Janssen Pharmaceutica. Beginning in 1986, the substance was sold under the brand name Wildnil for use in tranquilizer darts to sedate large animals like elephants, moose, and buffalo.
The substance comes as a powder, blotter paper, tablets, patch, and as a spray and technically affects the body like other opioids. When it enters the bloodstream, it strongly binds to opioid receptors to block pain signals from reaching the brain. Opioids like heroin and oxycodone activate a flood of dopamine, which causes users to experience tangible feelings of euphoria and relaxation. Because carfentanil is so potent, most humans will not experience those sensations whatsoever. More likely, they will suffer overdose, which is often fatal.
Still, people are being exposed to carfentanil through illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine. Drug dealers lace these drugs with trace amounts of carfentanil to boost potency for longer-lasting highs. A user can take a normal dose of their preferred drug without knowing that it contains carfentanil and immediately overdose.
There is no overstating the risks and lethality that comes with carfentanil. If you or someone you care about is in the grips of a carfentanil addiction, a medical detoxification is critical to avoid a fatal overdose.
Not much is known about the long-term effects of carfentanil addiction because, quite frankly, most people who take it will overdose and/or die. Thus, not enough time has passed in many of those cases to observe carfentanil’s long-term effects on the brain and body.
For individuals who are fortunate enough to have only ingested an extremely small or diluted amount of carfentanil, where it does not kill them, addiction is almost immediate. They will exhibit these signs:
If you observe these behaviors or symptoms in someone, it is vital that they get professional treatment immediately, not only to avoid permanent mental and physical damage but also to avoid the impending danger of overdose and death.
For those struggling with a carfentanil addiction, the safest route to recovery is through a professional addiction treatment program. Attempting to quit carfentanil on your own can be dangerous, if not fatal. When you enroll in addiction recovery, you will receive highly intensive therapy and constant care to meet your medical needs. This is called acute treatment.
This phase of treatment always begins with a medical detoxification, which addresses the problem of drug dependence. In detox, we will rid your body of the carfentanil by administering a program of medical maintenance therapy.
In medical maintenance therapy, you will be administered methadone, Suboxone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone to treat your carfentanil addiction. Any of these medicines will wean you off carfentanil, decreasing your cravings in the process. An experienced medical staff will provide the care and supervision necessary to ensure a safe and comfortable detox.
You also will receive a comprehensive initial assessment, which includes a review of your medical history, a mental health evaluation, and social evaluation.
Once you are stabilized and can sit down with a clinician, a licensed therapist will provide you an in-depth look at your biological, psychological, and sociological needs. What you will gain from this step is a foundation of knowledge that will allow your therapist to develop the best treatment plan for your individual needs going forward.
To help you recover from the severity of a carfentanil addiction, it is highly recommended that you stay at a facility and receive comprehensive treatment and counseling. This step is referred to as residential treatment, where you will receive the level of care designed to get to the root of your addiction.
A stay at a residential treatment facility typically lasts between 30 days and 90 days. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends that the treatment process take the full 90 days from detox to completion. This time frame has been shown to produce the best results.
After your stay at our residential treatment facility, it is recommended that you undergo outpatient treatment. In outpatient, you can return to your career and family life while still receiving the care and support necessary to maintain your sobriety and reduce the risk of relapse.
Outpatient treatment is divided according to how many hours you spend a week in therapy:
Carfentanil is unparalleled in its potency. It is 10,000 times stronger than morphine and 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, its chemical cousin. Fentanyl is considered 50 times stronger than heroin.
In essence, carfentanil is the most lethal opioid in the world where a single microgram can kill a person. To put this into context, a 10 milligram dose of carfentanil, which is 10,000 micrograms, is just a fraction of the weight of a paperclip. Still, this dose is lethal enough to kill 500 people. It is also enough to take out an ox or buffalo.
While emergency responders and medical doctors have used one or two naloxone injections to reverse heroin overdose, it takes a multitude of naloxone to reverse carfentanil overdose.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there were 49,068 opioid overdose deaths with 60 percent of those related to fentanyl and carfentanil.
Among 11,045 opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. between July 2016 and June 2017, 1,236 (11.2%) tested positive for carfentanil.
In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which includes the city of Cleveland, there were 52 overdose deaths in August 2016, at the time the most deaths related to fentanyl and heroin the country has ever seen.
Carfentanil is the most dangerous substance you can use, let alone abuse. If you or a loved one is battling a carfentanil addiction, it is imperative that professional addiction treatment is sought. For someone addicted to the substance, waiting likely puts their life at risk.
At Serenity at Summit, we offer a range of treatment options and resources to help you recover from your addiction so that you can experience a sober, hope-filled future.
Call 844-432-0416 at anytime, day or evening, for a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable addiction recovery specialists. They can help you locate the right treatment option. Call us at 844-432-0416 or contact us online for more information.
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Kinetz, E., & Butler, D. (2016, October 07). Chemical weapon for sale: China’s unregulated narcotic. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20180730162657/https://apnews.com/7c85cda5658e46f3a3be95a367f727e6#
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