Consumers may have commented that certain pills seem too large to have been designed for human consumption and joke that they must be for horses. They say a drug hits them so hard, the dose must have been meant for an elephant.
Carfentanil is suitable only for horses, elephants, domestic animals, and so on. Humans were never supposed to use this stuff, but the death toll is rising in association with illegal supplies on worldwide streets and in back alleys around the globe.
While strong enough to sedate a huge mammal, less than a teaspoon of the granules can kill a human being. Images in the news show a scattering of these sugar-like white pieces and warn readers: that’s all it takes.
— Border Services (@CanBorder) August 9, 2016
You don’t need to swallow or inject a tablespoon of it because this is the world’s most powerful, commercially available opioid painkiller.
What Is an Opioid?
A hundred years ago and for centuries, even millennia before, a particular poppy plant was bred and cultivated for use in medicine and spiritual practices. Its role was as a sedative and painkiller: opium. Literature from the ages shows its popularity in mainstream society but also a shift towards illegal use and addiction.
In more recent years, consumers have been introduced to manmade versions, narcotics products of chemical genius in the lab. Unfortunately, some drugs have been so powerful (heroin, for instance) that new drugs were created to mitigate their addictive potential, methodone being reserved for substance abusers.
There are now numerous varieties of narcotic analgesics derived from opioids varying in strength. Codeine is the least powerful and most readily prescribed for pain that exceeds the norm but isn’t the result of serious injury or surgery. It’s far easier to wean off of codeine than off of oxycontin and similar medications.
Carfentanil is derived from fentanyl, the most powerful narcotic painkiller prescribed to people. This drug is prescribed with extreme caution and has recently been associated with many overdoses on the streets.
First-time users and addicts treat it like heroin, accidentally take too much, and overdose, sometimes on their initial outing with drugs. It acts both as a sedative and a painkiller. If one takes fentanyl with alcohol, the result is almost certainly an overdose.
More than Fentanyl
If consumers believed fentanyl was scary, they hadn’t been introduced to carfentanil. A flood of this drug has been pouring into the United States and crossing the border into Canada. Police and medical authorities in Ohio and British Columbia have reported a spate of overdoses; mass deaths related to the use of carfentanil.
One does not need to encounter a supply laced with heroin or other poisons in order to be vulnerable; any amount of the drug is inappropriate for human use. A drug made for animals the size of horses and elephants is clearly too strong a drug for people.
But the drug isn’t a new product. Carfentanil has been used in the veterinary field for decades. What has changed? The general public doesn’t realize what carfentanil is, believing it to be just like other narcotics, providing the same sedating and sometimes joyful effects. Pair that with the recently increased supply of illegal sources and the death toll has risen.
News and Education
While news reports might sound exaggerated to some readers, they are not. The number of deaths which can be attributed to carfentanil is probably in excess of what reporters and medical examiners even know at this point.
Worldwide, the drug has caused fear, but its presence has also led to an increase in efforts to educate young people who are at great risk of experimenting with the substance. No rehab options are suggested for carfentanil addiction because addiction is not likely; death is far more realistic.