Here at the NJFAI in Morris County one of the things we do is work with individuals and clients who are struggle with substance abuse. Recently mainstream media, parents, and the communities overall have been expressing concern about opioids. This is understandable since they are ravaging our young adult community.
At NJFAI we believe one of our main functions is to provide education to the community about topics related to substance abuse. One of the most common topics parents and communities ask us about is opioids. Now the majority of people have at minimum a rudimentary understanding of prescription pills and heroin. Some may even have a bit of knowledge of fentanyl (for those that don’t read this post to get an understanding of fentanyl). However very few people besides those who work in the substance abuse field and law enforcement are familiar with carfentanil.
What is Carfentanil?
Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid that. Wildlife experts and zoos use it in tranquilizers darts for large mammals like elephants. Now I can hear you thinking that “Wow if this stuff is used on elephants it must be strong.” You are spot on.
Fentanyl, which has been in the news due to the staggering number of overdose deaths from it, is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl. To put this is perspective look at the picture below.
This picture shows what a lethal dose of heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil looks like. Due to its potency there is no margin of error with carfentanil. It is beyond lethal. Even just touching this substance can result in death.
Now That You Have Terrified Me Tell Me Why Anyone Would Knowingly Use This Stuff.
Similar to fentanyl drug users are typically not actively seeking out carfentanil. Drug dealers are putting carfentanil in their batches of heroin which increases the potency (i.e. causes a better high). When word gets out that a drug dealer has particularly strong heroin drug dealers will seek them out which is good for business.
As heroin is illegal in the U.S. there is no oversight body to ensure what is in the heroin. With the production of heroin illegal, drug dealers operate illegal labs where they do not have the necessary equipment to ensure the equal distribution of carfentanil throughout a batch of heroin. Two bags of heroin bought from the same dealer on the same day could have dramatically different levels of fentanyl or carfentanil in them.
How is Carfentanil Getting Into the United States?
Illegal Chinese labs produce Carfentanil. Then the labs ship it to the U.S. either in the mail. Additionally they ship it to drug cartels in Mexico who smuggle it into the U.S.
When carfentanil is in a batch of heroin the results can be deadly. Recently in a 6 day span in Cincinnati 174 people overdosed. Authorities suspect carfentanil was the source of the dramatic spike in overdoses.
In Canada police seized one kilogram of carfentanil which was hidden inside of printing cartridges shipped from China. The amount and the purity of the carfentanil were enough to kill 50 million people.
What Do I Do if I or A Loved One is Using Heroin or Discovers Powdered Substances That Look Like Drugs?
If you or a loved one are struggling with heroin use please do not wait to contact healthcare professionals. With no regulatory body there is no way to know what heroin may be laced with without laboratory testing. If you discover a powdered substance that you believe to be drugs please contact law enforcement immediately. Fentanyl and carfentanil are so powerful that just getting a little on your skin can result in death. Here are NJFAI we cannot underscore enough that these substances are not safe to handle. Only professionals in full hazmat suits should handle these substances.