Designer drugs like carfentanil and U-47700 are infiltrating the U.S. at an alarming rate. The opioid epidemic has taken America by storm. You can’t turn on the local news without there being coverage of another fatal overdose from opioids, more specifically synthetic opioids.
New synthetic opioids from China continue to get smuggled into Canada and Mexico and trafficked to the United States every day. The United States has long suffered from an opioid epidemic with the rise in fatal heroin deaths each year. However, what’s behind those deaths are often synthetic opioids that are either mixed with heroin or sold as heroin.
Many heroin users think they are taking a non-fatal dose of pure heroin, but it actually turns out to be a much more lethal synthetic opioid. While fentanyl-mixed heroin has caused fatal overdose deaths across the U.S., more powerful synthetic drugs such as carfentanil and U-47700 have caused more recent deaths in 2016.
What is Carfentanil?
Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid used by veterinarians to tranquilize elephants and other large animals. As a Schedule II controlled substance meant for animals, the drug is not meant for human consumption. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), carfentanil is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine and 100 times more powerful than fentanyl.
Sold illegally on the streets and online, carfentanil is often disguised as heroin and resembles cocaine. The way the drug is distributed can vary, it can take the form of powder, tablets, a spray, or blotter paper. Carfentanil can also be inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
Dangerous Effects of Carfentanil
At even the lowest doses, the effects of Carfentanil can be fatal. Some of the more immediate symptoms that someone has used carfentanil include:
- Respiratory problems
- Arrest from erratic behavior
- Clammy skin
Since carfentanil is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine and can be mixed with other drugs to mimic heroin and cocaine, deadly overdose is highly likely even at the first consumption. To revive heroin and opioid users, it usually takes a single 2 milligrams dose to reverse an opiate overdose; however, with a drug as powerful as carfentanil, it may take up to 6 doses to prevent an overdose death.
What is U-47700?
Originally created as a painkiller for cancer and serious injury, U-47700 is a research drug. Sometimes referenced as “pinky”, “pink” or U4, the synthetic opioid was first created in the 1970s by Upjohn pharmaceuticals as an alternative to morphine, but it never received approval by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Recently, the DEA designated U-47700 as a Schedule I substance so it is now an illegal drug.
While the synthetic drug has been relatively under the radar over the years, it has recently gained resurgence as foreign manufacturers have used the research chemical to create a new designer drug. Commonly sold as a painkiller to mimic legal synthetics like fentanyl, U-47700 has caused a string of deaths across the U.S., including celebrity deaths.
Most notably, the drug was found to be included in Prince’s toxicology report as one of the drugs mixed in his “cocktail” of painkillers, although his death was ruled as a fentanyl overdose.
Effects of U-47700
U-47700 is about 7.5 times more powerful than morphine and in small doses can be lethal. It can also be resistant to Narcan to reverse the effects of overdose. Some common symptoms experienced include:
- Feeling no pain
- Respiratory depression
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Nasal or rectal bleeding
The synthetic opioid is most commonly mixed with other drugs and meant to replace heroin, which increases the potential for deadly overdose due to its potency.
Detoxing from Synthetic Opioids
In cases where synthetic opioids are ingested and cause overdose, naloxone is administered. However, treatment doesn’t stop there. Quitting opioids on your own can make things worse. Most people think they can quit taking opioids, but the withdrawal symptoms from opioids often require medical treatment.
At Summit Detox, our compassionate team of medical doctors, psychiatrists, registered nurses, and addiction professionals will help you or your loved one medically detox from opioids in a safe environment. If your loved one is struggling with an opiate addiction, get them the help they need and deserve at our medically-supervised detox. Call Summit Detox today (888) 995-5265.