As the opioid epidemic continues to rage (and doesn’t seem to be slowing down), we are continuing to see new threats emerging on the illicit drug market. Some of these threats are synthetic opiates, such as china white, that are being produced and distributed in an attempt to avoid enforcement. But a new threat has recently claimed lives in Maryland and across the country. Here is what you need to know.
Carfentanil- What Is It?
Carfentanil is an opiate, but it’s intended use is for tranquilization of elephants. Yes, elephants. The creatures that, at full growth, can weigh from 4,500-13,000 pounds. Given its intended use for very large animals, the strength of carfentanil is unlike any other opiate on the streets. It is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, and 5,000 times more potent than heroin. To give you some perspective here, fentanyl, which is yet another dangerous opioid that has caused a massive uptick in overdoses and deaths, is generally 30-50 times as potent as heroin. It seems crazy that addicts would gamble with anything more potent than that. But carfentanil has recently been linked to two overdose deaths in Anne Arundel County, and one in Frederick County. This drug is so dangerous that even handling it poses a risk, as it can be absorbed through the skin. Further, naloxone, which is the drug used to reverse opioid overdoses and that has saved many from opiate-related deaths, is not as effective. Multiple doses may be required to bring back a carfentanil overdose victim, and even then, there is no guarantee that it will work. The drug is sometimes even laced into heroin or other drugs, so the user buying opiates on the street really has no idea what they are taking, and are at an even more increased risk of an overdose.
The Rise in Overdoses and Spread of Carfentanil
The most recent statistics available reveal that in the first nine months of 2016, there were 1,468 fatal drug overdoses in Maryland. 2015’s total for the entire year was 1,259, meaning that by September, 2016 had already exceeded the previous year, and the numbers were likely even higher by the year’s end. Clearly, more has to be done to help addicts and spread awareness and prevention. Carfentanil first appeared in the midwest, specifically in Michigan, Kentucky, and Ohio, and has since spread east, leading to the recent carfentanil-related deaths in Maryland. Local law enforcement officials are trying to trace the source of the drugs that killed these victims, but have so far had no luck in tracking the dealer. Given the changes in the law passed in the last year or so, whoever distributed or sold the carfentanil that led to these fatal overdoses could be charged with homicide. However, authorities believe the drug may be being imported from China.
Ultimately, this drug is just another, yet incredibly dangerous, signal that the opioid epidemic is still highly present and is spreading like wildfire. While the strength of the drug may seem appealing to an addict who is desperate for their next high, the risk associated with it is unprecedented. If we are to put a stop to it, we need to continue to work at getting the message out that recovery from opiate addiction is possible. It happens every day, and no matter how bad off an addict is, their life can be totally different if they are willing to use the tools of recovery available to them. For many, this change needs to start with professional addiction treatment.
Help is Available
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the professional staff at Serenity Acres is ready to help. Call today for your free confidential assessment, to see if inpatient treatment may be the answer you are looking for: 1-800-203-2024.