The China White drug is a synthetic version of furanyl fentanyl. China White became a substitute for heroin derived from fentanyl, an opioid prescription drug that can be ingested, injected or inhaled. Other street names of heroin cut with fentanyl include White China Drug, China Girl, and China Town. 

A war against illegal drugs and their synthetic variants

Our country is currently engaged in a life-and-death struggle against alcohol and drug addiction. A major factor in the drug war is the onslaught of new designer synthetic drugs. These drugs are constantly flooding the market and increasing overdose deaths. According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC), drug overdoses killed 63,632 Americans in 2016. Nearly two-thirds of these deaths (66%) involved a prescription or illicit opioid. Overdose deaths increased in all categories of drugs examined for men and women, people aged 15 and older, all races and ethnicities, and across all levels of urbanization.

Why synthetic drugs exist

Manufacturing and distributing scheduled drugs can have huge legal implications. For a first-time offense of a Schedule I and II drug, a person could face five to forty years in jail in addition to hefty fines. Heroin and cocaine are illegal drugs, and law enforcement is cracking down on drug trafficking to get them off the street. This is causing drug traffickers and manufacturers to produce drugs that are easier to make and sell, with less legal implications. Their solution to the problem — synthetic drugs.

What are synthetic drugs?

To quote the dictionary, synthetic is defined as; (of a substance) made by chemical synthesis, especially to imitate a natural product. Synthetic drugs are created to imitate and mirror the ‘highs” or effects of narcotics, prescription drugs and even some everyday domestic products. Here is where designer drugs come in.

Different forms of designer drugs:

  • herbs
  • liquids
  • pills
  • powders

With the rise in opiate addiction sweeping the country, there is a growing demand for substitutes for controlled substances and known illegal drugs. One such alternate to heroin is furanyl fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. Fentanyl works like an opioid receptor, feeding the brain dopamine, and creates an intense high or euphoria. It also decreases breathing and slows heart rate. Fentanyl can be over 100 times as potent as heroin and morphine.

China White Drug – a deadly killer

China White has caused its own increase of drug overdose deaths with multiple variations of the illicit drug being made and sold on the streets. Illegal drug manufacturers dabble and play with the ingredients, preying on recreational users and heroin addicts. Users really have no idea what they are injecting or ingesting. There is no way to know the exact effect a synthetic drug can have on a person since the chemicals constantly change and vary in toxicity. Since the chemicals in any synthetic drug constantly change and vary in toxicity, there is no way to know its exact effect on a person. That makes it impossible to estimate how China White may impact an addict, increasing the chance of a fentanyl overdose.

Fentanyl is so deadly that contact with the drug in any form can be dangerous. An anti-overdose medication called Narcan was developed for law enforcement and medical practitioners to use. However, because of the varying ingredients used in designer drugs like China White, it is difficult for medical professionals and law enforcement to research and treat them effectively.

Opioids, heroin, and synthetic drugs like China White send euphoric messages to the reward center of the brain, increasing the chance of cravings and leading to an uncontrollable often unwanted drug addiction. This is what drug dealers prey on. In most cases when people try illicit drugs, they are not looking to become addicted. They are simply looking to continue the “happy high.” Unfortunately, the cravings for the substance become a necessity – just like air and water is needed for survival. After a while, the body starts to rely on drugs to stimulate the dopamine release, creating a vicious cycle that is hard to break without outside professional help. Recovery is possible.

China White Drug withdrawal symptoms

The withdrawal from China White is often more severe than heroin. With muscle aches, chills, sweating, loss of appetite, rapid breathing to decreased breathing, confusion, and extreme mood changes that can last several days, it can be hard for a person to stop cold-turkey. A medically-managed detox with physical and mental support is recommended to prevent relapse for anyone fighting China White addiction. 

DEA Drug Schedules Explained

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulates specific drugs and controlled substances into five schedules. These classifications are based on their potential for abuse and whether the drug has a legitimate value for treating medical conditions.

Schedule I – This includes all drugs that show potential signs that if used in excess could result in addiction that can lead to abuse. This type of drug has not proven itself as an accepted medical treatment option. Cannabis, ecstasy, GHB, heroin, LSD, mescaline, and methaqualone are included in Schedule I.

Schedule II – Drugs listed in this category show high potential for abuse. While these are accepted drugs for medical treatment with regulations and restrictions, they are known to cause physical and psychological dependency. Drugs such as amphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl, hydromorphone oxycodone, and hydrocodone are included in Schedule II.

Schedule III – Drugs such as anabolic steroids, buprenorphine, and ketamine have a lower potential for psychological and physical dependence than Schedule I or II. These drugs are accepted as medical treatment options.

Schedule IV – Benzodiazepines, modafinil, and tramadol, when compared to the above schedule classifications, show fewer signs of potential abuse or dependency. These drugs are currently an accepted medical treatment option. 

Schedule V – Diphenoxylate (in combination with atropine), lacosamide, and pregabalin have even less potential than Schedule IV for dependency and abuse and are currently accepted medical treatment drugs.

DEA Drug Schedules Explained

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulates specific drugs and controlled substances into five schedules. These classifications are based on their potential for abuse and whether the drug has a legitimate value for treating medical conditions.

Schedule I – This includes all drugs that show potential signs that if used in excess could result in addiction that can lead to abuse. This type of drug has not proven itself as an accepted medical treatment option. Cannabis, ecstasy, GHB, heroin, LSD, mescaline, and methaqualone are included in Schedule I.

Schedule II – Drugs listed in this category show high potential for abuse. While these are accepted drugs for medical treatment with regulations and restrictions, they are known to cause physical and psychological dependency. Drugs such as amphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl, hydromorphone oxycodone, and hydrocodone are included in Schedule II.

Schedule III – Drugs such as anabolic steroids, buprenorphine, and ketamine have a lower potential for psychological and physical dependence than Schedule I or II. These drugs are accepted as medical treatment options.

Schedule IV – Benzodiazepines, modafinil, and tramadol, when compared to the above schedule classifications, show fewer signs of potential abuse or dependency. These drugs are currently an accepted medical treatment option. 

Schedule V – Diphenoxylate (in combination with atropine), lacosamide, and pregabalin have even less potential than Schedule IV for dependency and abuse and are currently accepted medical treatment drugs.