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Carfentanil-Laced Heroin Abuse And Addiction

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

March 5, 2019

Standing alone, heroin has a serious potential for abuse, addiction, and overdose, when mixed with substances like Carfentanil, however, the risks of taking this drug increases and can leave the user with severe health effects.

What Is Carfentanil?

Carfentanil, which was formerly known under the commercial name Wildnil, was first synthesized in the early 1970s. It was produced for commercial applications as a general anesthetic for large animals. It was not created or intended for human use. The National Institutes of Health’s Open Chemistry Database explains that it “is an analogue of the popular synthetic opioid analgesic fentanyl, and is one of the most potent opioids known.”

The database cites that Carfentanil has a “quantitative potency approximately 10,000 times that of morphine and 100 times that of fentanyl.” This makes it an extremely dangerous and lethal illicit drug when it stands alone; paired with the side effects and dangers of heroin, this becomes exponential. Due to the fact that this drug is being laced into heroin, the user experiences the drug’s effects very quickly which can overwhelm your body’s systems. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) speaks of fentanyl analogues, stating that they “are most commonly used by intravenous administration, but like heroin, they may also be smoked or snorted.”

This Lethal Combination Can Cause Death

Currently, there is very little research that illustrates exactly how this drug affects humans. Despite this, reports are surfacing within the United States that portray what scientists can understand based off of the drug’s undeniable chemical truths—that this drug is not for human use and it can be deadly.

Reports of this deadly combination have surfaced in various locations in Ohio, specifically Hamilton County and areas around Akron, Columbus, and Cincinnati. On July 15th, officials in Hamilton County, Ohio issued a press release that stated, “In a recent three-day period, Akron officials reported 25 overdoses, four of which were fatal, while Columbus reported 10 overdoses in a nine-hour window, two of which were fatal.”

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What Is The Danger Of Fentanyl?

In order to better understand Carfentanil, we will discuss fentanyl and its potential for danger and overdose. The DEA cites that fentanyl is used for chronic pain management, treatment of breakthrough pain in cancer patients, and for anesthesia and analgesia.

A year ago this past March, the DEA issued a nationwide alert about the fentanyl outbreak, urging people to remember that “Fentanyl is a dangerous, powerful Schedule II narcotic responsible for an epidemic of overdose deaths within the United States.”

Fentanyl is the most potent opiate that is on the market for human use, and at even 100 times less potency of Carfentanil, it is highly addictive and dangerous when used illicitly. At this potency, which is vastly less than that of Carfentanil, fentanyl presents unique dangers related to its exposure. The DEA recently released information on this, urging law enforcement officials to be on alert and conscientious during any encounter with this drug. They stated, “A very small amount ingested, or absorbed through your skin, can kill you.”

Like other opiates, including heroin, fentanyl binds to the body’s opiate receptors and impacts neurotransmitters. When a person takes fentanyl, his dopamine levels increase, which creates the euphoric feeling that the user seeks.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) tells us that “Opioid receptors are also found in the areas of the brain that control breathing rate. High doses of opioids, especially potent opioids such as fentanyl, can cause breathing to stop completely, which can lead to death.” It can also induce coma. Carfentanil would exert this same impact, only in a much greater capacity.

Why Is Carfentanil So Dangerous?

The frightening thing is that people may unknowingly use this drug combination, resulting in what is essentially like Russian roulette—you might think you’re using only heroin, while in reality you’re taking something that contains a potentially lethal cocktail of these two drugs. Carfentanil is, according to the Journal of Emergency Medicine “a highly water-soluble, clear liquid with no distinguishable odor.” This makes it impossible for a person using it illicitly to detect.

Other people may hear that this analogue is associated with fentanyl, without hearing or understanding the vast difference in potency between the two, and take heroin that is laced with it on purpose, in pursuit of a greater high. Either way, taking this combination puts you square in the face of danger with high risk of death.

The Journal of Emergency Medicine published an article which spoke of the risk certain veterinary medicines carried and the proper procedure to deal with them should accidental human contact occur. In the case of Carfentanil, the authors noted that “extreme care, concentration, and personal protective equipment are required when working with this medication.” That’s how powerful the drug is.

The American Journal of Emergency Medicine also contained an article that spoke of this drug’s unbelievable potency. In it, the authors noted how a man that had simply come into contact with the drug externally, immediately became drowsy. He was administered 100 mg of naltrexone and taken to the ER at a hospital. To illuminate exactly how potent this is, we cite another passage from the article: “Even after a single splash to the face, eyes, and mouth, and despite immediate decontamination, the patient rapidly became symptomatic.”

Consider this—this drug is intended for animal use only, and not just any animal, but very large animals that might be found in a zoo or a wild game reserve. Carfentanil is so potent that it can immobilize an animal of large size very quickly. To put this in perspective, wild African elephants—an animal that Carfentanil is used on—weigh between 5,000 and 14,000 lbs as reported by National Geographic, which is roughly 26 to 72 times the weight of your average adult male (195.5 lbs).

Any time you mix drugs, the potential of dangerous side effects and damage to your body increases. In this case, you’re gambling with your life.

Click here to view our infographic on Carfentanil-laced heroin.

Carfentanil Laced Heroin Infographic

Don’t Take Any More Chances, Call Us Today And Make The Right Choice

Whenever you use drugs, you are endangering your health. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your drug use and feel as if you’re no longer making decisions that are good for your mind and body, call us today. We can help you change that by educating and supporting you so that you can begin to make positive and healthy choices that will get you on the road to recovery. Contact us today at for help entering rehab and getting back to a healthy life.

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