U-4 Synthetic Opioid is on Law Enforcement’s Radar
A new synthetic opioid, known to cause psychotic disorders and have high abuse potential, has crept its way onto local law enforcement’s radar. The drug, called U-4, has been described by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a research chemical that has not been studied for human use. DEA officials realized the emerging problem when synthetic opioid U-4 was found in pill form during an Ohio drug seize last March.
Over the last year, nine people in Florida have died from using U-4. This chemical compound is extremely potent, and researchers estimate it is about seven to eight times stronger than medical-grade morphine. U-4 has been attributed to overdoses in at least 10 states over the last year.
With little known about the effects of this volatile drug, law enforcement agencies are trying to prepare themselves the best they can. Martin County Sheriff William Snyder says dealing with U-4 would be new territory. “We need to be prepared if we do see it. We’re working on understanding the drug, the implications, and what happens when they overdose.” Sheriff Snyder expresses particular concern about the known euphoric effects of the drug, and the difficulties this could pose for both drug users and local authorities.
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg says, much like a dog chasing its tail, getting and staying ahead of drug manufacturers is difficult. He states “the best way to do it is through tough law enforcement,” and officials hope to stop U-4 from spreading by cracking down early. Aronberg plans to push for tougher penalties on those caught with substantial amounts of synthetic opioids, and ultimately create a statute that would increase charges against drug trafficking of synthetic opioids.
Some Facts About U-4:
- Synthetic opioid U-4 can come in pill, powder, or spray form.
- U-4 crystals are particularly corrosive, and can cause breakdown of mucus membranes with continued use.
- Side effects can include cognitive fatigue, thought deceleration, anxiety, depression, and compulsive re-dosing.
- Tolerance builds quickly with prolonged, repeated use – requiring higher doses to feel effects
- U-4 presents a cross-tolerance with other opioids, meaning U-4 use causes all opioids to have reduced effects.
If you or someone you know may be struggling with a substance use disorder, call the caring and experienced staff at A New Start, Inc. today. A New Start, Inc., is an IOP program in West Palm Beach offering therapies and support for those suffering from addiction. For additional information about A New Start, Inc., and our intensive outpatient program, please call 1-844-TALK-ANS.