What is carfentanil?
A frightening new ingredient, known as carfentanil, has been found in heroin across the country. The drug is a synthetic opioid and is the most potent commercial opiate out there. This drug is not approved for human use of any kind.
How powerful is carfentanil?
Carfentanil is reported by the DEA to be 100 times more deadly than fentanyl. Carfentanil is being mixed into heroin to increase the high experienced by users. The drug is considered to be extremely dangerous due to its potency, of which only a flake or half a grain of sand, is fatal to a human being.
Approximately 300 people in at least 4 states have overdosed on this drug since mid-August and first responders are having to use the overdose reversal drug Naloxone 4, 5 or even 6 times in an effort to save victims. It is reported that it can take hours for the body to metabolize carfentanil, which is far longer than other opioids, meaning the high is longer-lasting. It also means that when someone overdoses it is more difficult to revive them.
Where is carfentanil coming from?
The drug is suspected to be showing up in heroin because it can be manufactured inexpensively in a lab and cut into heroin, increasing its potency. It is suspected that carfentanil is being manufactured in China and shipped to Mexico or South America.
Investigators have seen a recent shift in the past year away from organic drugs to fentanyl-related synthetics. This is thought to be due to the prescription pain addiction problem that is so strongly overtaken areas like Ohio, where “pill mills” have been shuttered, forcing people to the black market for heroin.
In response to the increased use of carfentanil officials are increasing supplies of Naloxone and are working with investigators in an effort to combat this drug.