We help a lot of people with drug rehabilitation here at the Granite Recovery Center, so we’re used to seeing people struggling with addiction to many different types of drugs. One of the most dangerous drugs we’ve come across is Carfentanil. People who are struggling with Carfentanil addiction are in a very precarious situation because Carfentanil isn’t even a drug approved for human use.
What Is Carfentanil?
Carfentanil is one of the most dangerous drugs in the world. It’s a synthetic opioid that’s over 1000 times more powerful than the synthetic opioid fentanyl and over 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and just a few grains could cause someone to overdose. It’s used to treat severe pain, so knowing this information sheds light on exactly how incredibly powerful Carfentanil is. A single grain of Carfentanil can kill a human.
Carfentanil is so dangerous that the World Health Organization has recommended that an opioid antagonist like naloxone or naltrexone be available in areas where Carfentanil is known to be present. These antagonists may help to revive someone in case of a suspected overdose. As mentioned, naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan, is the antidote used for opioid overdoses. When someone overdoses on Carfentanil, several doses of naloxone are needed in order to treat the victim, but they may not be effective.
Carfentanil was first created in 1974 by Janssen Pharmaceutica. It was created in order to create effective anesthesia that could be used on large zoo animals. People needed to create a level of anesthesia that was powerful enough to sedate large animals so that people could safely work on them. The drug was never intended to be for humans due to its extremely high potency.
Carfentanil is used by veterinarians to sedate large animals like elephants. It’s an extremely strong tranquilizer that only requires about 2ml taken intramuscularly to take down a large animal. It is not to be used for human use for any purpose, but that hasn’t stopped drug dealers and street pharmacists from using it when they package drugs for sale.
Drug dealers often mix Carfentanil with other drugs like heroin, prescription opioids, or cocaine in order to make those drugs more powerful. They do this because Carfentanil is less expensive than the other drugs, so they use it as filler. Unfortunately, drug dealers are not scientists, so they frequently underestimate just how much Carfentanil they’re putting into their mixtures.
This is why most users don’t even know that they’re getting Carfentanil. It’s also a bit difficult to track the number of deaths related to Carfentanil because doctors and labs are not looking for it. Since it’s mixed in with the other drugs, the assumption is usually made that the overdose came about as a result of the other drugs in the system.
How Is Carfentanil Ingested?
Carfentanil is hidden in other drugs, so it’s ingested the way people take those drugs, including via snorting or injection. Carfentanil is available in several different forms, including as a yellow or white powder, tablet, liquid, or spray. Like other opioids, it works by binding to opioid receptors in the body, creating the relaxing, heavily sedating feeling that opioids usually bring. The difference is that this drug also causes severe respiratory distress within mere minutes of it being ingested.
The drug is so powerful, its particles can also actually be absorbed through the skin or simply by inhaling them. This makes it extremely dangerous for first responders and anyone else who comes upon a drug overdose victim who’s taken Carfentanil since it’s extremely easy for them to pick up particles of the drug and become dangerously sick themselves.
Symptoms of Exposure to Carfentanil
It’s extremely difficult to detect Carfentanil, so it can be extremely difficult to figure out if someone has been exposed to or affected by it until they’ve already overdosed. It’s clear, it’s soluble in water, and it’s completely odorless. These characteristics are one of the reasons that it’s so easy for drug dealers to mix into their drugs, and it also makes it difficult to gauge exposure until it’s too late.
One of the best ways to figure out if someone has been exposed to Carfentanil is by looking at their symptoms. The symptoms of Carfentanil exposure are extremely easy to identify since they happen so quickly after ingestion. Some of those symptoms include sudden difficulty breathing, nausea, disorientation, wet and clammy skin, extreme drowsiness, sedation, anxiety, disorientation, runny nose, insomnia, restlessness,pinpoint pupils, and death.
Is Carfentanil Abuse Common?
Because it’s usually hidden inside of other types of opioids that people are more likely to ingest, like heroin and prescription pills, people don’t intentionally abuse Carfentanil. They usually get exposed to it by accident. It can even be difficult for medical professionals to determine whether or not someone has an addiction to Carfentanil because it’s usually masked by other drugs.
This means that while actual abuse of the drug itself is not very common, it’s masked by a real addiction to other drugs. Those addictions have to be dealt with, or the user could end up in a very dangerous situation. Because Carfentanil is so lethal, the most common side effect is, unfortunately, death. If a person does get exposed to Carfentanil and is somehow able to continue using it, the addiction symptoms will look similar to other types of opioid addictions.
Although there haven’t been any controlled laboratory studies evaluating the abuse potential of Carfentanil, medical professionals treat it extremely seriously. The DEA classifies it as a Schedule II drug, meaning that it’s considered a drug that has a high potential for abuse that could lead to extremely severe physical or psychological dependence. This puts it at the very least in the same category as other Schedule II drugs. The likelihood of death when exposed to Carfentanil just makes it that much worse.
Even though the drug has only been on the streets for the past few years, the effects have been devastating. The state of Arizona recorded its first Carfentanil death in 2018.
How Can You Help Someone With Carfentanil If They Can’t Technically Be Addicted to It?
It may feel confusing to try and figure out how to protect someone and help them get over an addiction to Carfentanil if exposure to the drug usually causes such devastating results. Carfentanil abuse usually isn’t discovered until it’s way too late.
The answer to this harkens back to the fact that people don’t seek out Carfentanil. It’s mixed into the drugs and other opioids that they’re already taking. They have an addiction to those opioids, and those addictions brought them into contact with the Carfentanil. In order to prevent someone from having any further exposure to Carfentanil, you have to help them with their addiction to opiates.
How to Tell If Someone Is At Risk of Being Exposed to Carfentanil
It’s extremely easy to tell when someone’s been exposed to Carfentanil because the symptoms show up almost immediately, and they’re usually severe or deadly. The drug is usually mixed in with other drugs, and the onset of symptoms is almost immediate. This means you can assume that if someone has been using heroin or cocaine, and they’ve experienced extreme symptoms after taking it, it’s highly probable they’ve been exposed to Carfentanil.
Another way you can tell that someone may risk being exposed to Carfentanil is if they’ve been using some of the drug’s most common street names, including Serial Killer, Drop Dead, Apache, Tingling Cash, Gray Death, and TNT. If someone you know is mentioning these names, or they’re looking for people to hook them up with illicit opiates like heroin or drugs like cocaine, you could assume that exposure to Carfentanil is much more likely.
How We Can Help
It may feel hopeless or difficult to help someone who is at risk for exposure to Carfentanil, but it can and must be done. Since the person is most likely addicted to other drugs that could be mixed with Carfentanil, the goal is to help them detox from the drugs that are causing the addiction.
This is where we come in. At Granite Recovery Centers, we have years of experience helping people get rid of even the toughest addictions.
Helping people through addiction is our number one goal. Everyone from our administrators to our practitioners to our clients work together as a unit in order to bring about success. Our goal is to bring people to a point where they’re not just in recovery, but they are fully recovered.
We understand that addiction is a chronic disease, and we help our clients understand that we will help them with this disease so that they can be the masters of their own lives once again. We understand that there are many factors that go into addiction. Our goal is to help our clients get through all of them.
During intake, our goal is to understand the whole patient. We know that our clients are human beings who need help reclaiming control over their lives. Addiction has temporarily turned them into other people, and we will help them get their true selves back.
We will assess their medical, emotional, and mental state so that we can determine what their specific treatment will look like. Everyone will have a treatment plan that is tailored to their specific circumstances. We show nothing but empathy for everyone who comes into our space, so that first meeting will hopefully fill our clients with hope.
When you’re dealing with a strong opiate addiction, you’re going to need all hands on deck to help you go through the withdrawal process. At Granite Recovery Center, we use techniques like medication-assisted treatment programs that help people safely withdraw from the strongest opiates, including heroin and prescription drug pills.
Withdrawing from a strong opiate addiction without help can be dangerous, so our trained medical staff will be on hand to make sure that you remain safe as you go through this critical part of the recovery process. Our clients are closely and constantly monitored during this time to help make sure that there aren’t any life-threatening symptoms.
Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment
People struggling with addictions that could have exposed them to Carfentanil will most likely benefit from an inpatient program. Strong opiate addictions are extremely hard to break, and addicts know how to find their way back to their old drug-foraging grounds and relapse if there are no strategies in place that can help keep them away from the drug.
With inpatient detox and treatment, not only will they be able to slowly and safely remove the drug from their systems, but they’ll also be able to be in a protective, loving space where they can start to work on the issues that got them to this point. After the intensive first level of inpatient treatment, many of our clients move on to thrive in our outpatient programs. We’re able to give them the emotional, physical, and loving support that they need so that they continue to thrive in the real world.
We’ll introduce our clients to therapies ranging from holistic therapies to traditional therapies that will help them learn how to choose healthy and soul-strengthening methods of healing and coping.
Carfentanil is one of the most dangerous drugs on the street. Because it’s mixed into other drugs, it’s very easy for people to get caught up in its deadly net. At Granite Recovery Programs, we will get to the heart of the addiction issue and help you recover and heal so that you can get your life back again.