The Rise of Carfentanil

by

A lethal drug known as carfentanil is making headlines across the nation for causing drug-related deaths. It’s so deadly that a single drop—even touching or inhaling it—can kill.

Not Fit for Human Consumption

Carfentanil was never created for human use. Originally intended to tranquilize elephants and other large animals, the drug has since been reportedly used in assassination attempts and to end a hostage situation in Russia.

Now, the drug has made its way onto the street scene. It’s easy and cheap to make in labs; and when added to heroin, it creates a potent and highly addictive drug that users find alluring.

A Lethal Concoction

“Gray death,” a deadly mixture of heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl and newcomer carfentanil, is the latest drug cocktail causing fatal overdoses as the epidemic continues to grow across the country. Drug dealers are also passing off carfentanil as heroin to unsuspecting users. Buyers who believe they’re getting heroin are at an even greater risk of losing their lives thanks to this new cocktail and deceitful dealers.

A Mega Potent Drug

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), carfentanil is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine. It belongs in the same class of opioids as heroin, fentanyl, and prescription drugs such as Oxycodone.

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.

Where Is Carfentanil?

The drug, which comes from China and Mexico, has been found in multiple states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Although difficult to track due to China’s shipping agreements with the US, the drug’s spread is reportedly being closely monitored by federal drug enforcement and addiction advocates.

Unprecedented Overdoses

The DEA is concerned carfentanil will lead to an increase in overdoses and overdose fatalities. Naloxone, or Narcan, frequently used by first responders in cases of heroin overdoses, is not as effective with carfentanil and fentanyl and often must be dosed repeatedly. Carfentanil acts very quickly with symptoms occurring within minutes after exposure. If you suspect you or a loved one have been exposed to carfentanil, call 911 immediately.

Symptoms of Carfentanil Use

Symptoms of exposure to carfentanil may include:

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

New Jersey’s Drug Epidemic

New Jersey is no stranger to the opioid epidemic. Heroin- and morphine-related deaths in New Jersey rose over 200 percent since 2010. New Jersey has also witnessed the devastating effects of fentanyl with fatal overdoses nearly tripling from 2011 to 2014.

The United States opioid addiction epidemic is garnering international attention, and states like New Jersey are pulling out all the stops to address the crisis, which is affecting millions of people across the country. Hospitals and drug treatment centers are more vital than ever in battling the war against addiction.