Law enforcement officials have come to believe that heroin laced with a synthetic opioid called Carfentanil is now being sold to drug users in Ohio, Indiana and Florida. This poses an extreme risk to the users, for Carfentanil is 10,000 times stronger than Morphine. Carfentanil is a type of Fentanyl. Fentanyl is a powerful narcotic used to treat severe pain such as that suffered by cancer patients.
It takes only one microgram of Carfentanil to effect a human being. Indeed, the drug was developed as a large animal tranquilizer. It takes 2 milligrams of Carfentanil to anesthetize an elephant, which usually weigh over a ton. It was never intended for human beings.
Street dealers of heroin regularly and notoriously lace, or mix pure heroin with other substances to make their supply last longer and to increase their profits. Heroin and other drugs have been laced with everything from caffeine to cornstarch. But the potency of Carfentanil makes a drug cut with it uncommonly risky. Carfentanil is so dangerous that even touching it can lead to a reaction, for it is absorbed through your skin. It is also dangerous to inhale.
Like other opioids, Carfentanil is a central nervous system depressant. Taking it leads to itching, nausea and a potentially life-threatening respiratory depression.
According to police chief Bill Collins, Hamilton County, Ohio saw 35 overdoses and six deaths over a three day period in July, 2016. Usually, they see only 25 overdoses per week. The problem was especially severe in Cincinnati, the county seat. All of the overdoses were treated with Naloxone, another opioid but doesn’t bring the intense euphoria or other effects associated with opioids such as heroin or morphine. Like these other drugs, Naloxone bonds to the opioid receptors in the central nervous system and blocks the action of other opioids. Naloxone is best delivered intravenously. The drug takes effect in one minute and lasts as long as three quarters of an hour. It can also be injected or taken as a nasal spray. The doctor can also give you repeated doses if you need them. At one point there were so many overdoses in Jennings County, Indiana that the deputies, troopers and other law enforcement officials ran out of Naloxone and had to borrow some from the local health care system.
Carfentanil was first synthesized in 1974 by Janssen Pharmaceutica. Its chemical formula is C24H30N2O3, and it is listed as a Schedule II narcotic by the Food and Drug Administration. That means it carries a danger of potential abuse, can lead to physical or psychological dependence but has a legitimate medicinal use. It’s believed that the Carfentanil that’s being sold on the street was made in China, sent to Mexico and then transported north into the United States.
As of 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration doesn’t track Carfentanil specifically because few labs in the United States are able to test for it. An autopsy done on a person who died of an opioid overdose might report evidence of a Fentanyl analog. People suspect heroin is being cut with Carfentanil because of the spike in overdoses and the fact that quantities of the drug have been seized in Florida.
If you are taking heroin, or know anyone who is, it's important that you get help from a United drug rehab center or a detox treatment facility with a dual diagnosis treatment program, especially in the face of this new and dangerous development.