Carfentanil Addiction

Carfentanil is one of the most powerful and addictive synthetic opioids drugs available. It is 10,000 times stronger than morphine and strong enough to put an elephant to sleep. This dangerous drug can sometimes be used to cut other drugs, such as heroin, when drug dealers want to “stretch” their supply. Carfentanil, even in the tiniest amount, can be fatal to someone who ingests it.

As the prescription opioid crisis continues and cities and states work hard to curtail it with crackdowns on pain management clinics and nefarious pain doctors, many people addicted to prescription opioids are finding that their substance of choice is outpriced and they can’t afford it. When this happens, they turn to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to obtain, and stronger than prescription opioids, such as OxyContin and morphine.

The increased push for more heroin and cocaine has illegal drug manufacturers cutting their products with synthetic opioids, like fentanyl and carfentanil. Both substances can be fatal in even incremental amounts. Overdose can occur when they are inhaled as a powder or absorbed through the skin.

Fentanyl was first on the drug scene and was closely followed by carfentanil. Both can cause addiction and overdose. However, carfentanil is much stronger than fentanyl.

Learn what carfentanil addiction is and how to treat it before you risk your life again when taking it–even unknowingly.

What Is Carfentanil?

Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid that was sold under the brand name Wildnil in 1974. It was created with the primary purpose of sedating large mammals, such as elk and elephants. It is still used for that purpose today; it has no use for humans at all.

Carfentanil works the same way opioids do in humans. It activates the brain’s transmitters, called opioid receptors, to block pain signals from reaching the brain. This increases the brain’s dopamine levels, giving the person the feelings of relaxation and euphoria. 

Carfentanil is often difficult to detect in toxicology reports and medical screenings. The drug can come in powder form and mixed with heroin and cocaine, or it can be pressed into pills so that it resembles prescription opioids.

Often, people using illicit substances do not know the drugs they bought have carfentanil in them. They take their usual dose, and in some cases, overdose immediately. 

Learn what the signs of carfentanil addiction are and be ready to seek substance use treatment as soon as possible.

Carfentanil Addiction Signs

Carfentanil use and addiction are not matters to be ignored. Knowing the signs of use and addiction can make the difference between someone living or dying.

There are key short-term effects to note when a person has taken carfentanil. These are:

  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Constricted pupils
  • Vomiting
  • Impaired movement, sometimes to the extent of not being able to move
  • Clammy skin
  • Weakened pulse
  • Unconsciousness
  • Heart failure
  • Coma
  • Death caused by lack of oxygen from depressed breathing

If a person takes an extremely small amount of carfentanil, addiction is very possible due to the strength of the drug. These are the signs to notice:

  • Slurred speech
  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Vertigo
  • Tremors
  • Intense and uncontrollable itching and scratching
  • Major gastrointestinal problems
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Withdrawing from social interactions
  • Intense paranoia
  • Compromised immune system
  • Suicidal ideation or behavior

The signs and symptoms above are clear indicators of carfentanil addiction. If you observe them in someone you know, it is vital to seek treatment immediately. Doing so can make the difference between permanent physical and mental health damage, overdose, and death.

What Is Involved in Carfentanil Addiction Treatment?

Medical detoxification is the first step in the treatment of carfentanil addiction. Opioid addiction can be a challenging process, especially when someone is withdrawing from it. It is strongly recommended that the person undergoing carfentanil withdrawal do so under the supervision and care of medical professionals, as they will need a medical maintenance program to wean them off opioids safely. It is dangerous to abruptly stop using an opioid as strong as carfentanil, as it can cause a relapse or overdose, which could lead to death.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is meant to reduce cravings for the drug throughout the tapering process. Tapering off the drug is a safe way to reduce opioid use. The medication used in this type of therapy is much weaker and does not pose the same addictive risks.

Below are the drugs most commonly used to treat those with carfentanil addiction:

Methadone

Methadone is given to lessen cravings and does not cause the “high” associated with opioid use. It has the best record for use in opioid addiction, and it is quite widely known. It has a strong record for those needing a long-term alternative or those with a better chance of relapse. It does, however, carry a risk of addiction. Responsible administration and diligent monitoring are needed.

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine is known as a “partial opioid.” This means it decreases cravings by using space in opioid receptors while blocking the effects of the opioids. It also has a proven record in fighting opioid dependence and a lesser change for addiction than methadone.

Suboxone

Suboxone is the brand name for buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone, by itself, is very strong when blocking the effects of opioids. When it is mixed with buprenorphine in maintenance therapy, naloxone is less potent.

Naltrexone

Naltrexone totally invalidates the effects of opioids and has no risk for addiction. An extended-release injection, named Vivitrol, is beneficial for long-term use.

Medical detox can be a tough and exhaustive process to go through, as the body rids itself of the drugs and other toxins. When overseen by substance use and medical personnel, it can be safe and less dire.  After detox is complete, it is imperative to continue addiction treatment. Withdrawal alone does not guarantee that the individual has overcome carfentanil addiction.

Addiction treatment and therapies help the individual face addiction head-on, learn alternative ways to deal with addiction, and carve a new path to recovery. Support is at hand throughout the time spent in treatment.

Different treatment modalities are available from residential, in-patient, intensive outpatient, and outpatient programs. Support groups, family sessions, addiction treatment for teens, and Christian addiction treatment can also be found.

Carfentanil addiction treatment does not have to lead to an overdose.

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Important Facts to Know About Carfentanil

The more you know about carfentanil, the better you can react if someone you care about is addicted or has overdosed on it.

Addiction is a chronic disease that affects the mind. While there is no cure for addiction, it is treatable, and sustained sobriety is possible if the proper treatment is sought.

Carfentanil can adversely affect someone with a tiny amount inhaled, injected, or swallowed. A 2-milligram dose (the size of a penny) can be fatal depending on the route of administration and other factors.

There were more than 31,000 synthetic opioid-related deaths in the U.S. in 2018, which was more than any other opioid-related deaths.

First responders may try to use Narcan, an opioid overdose reversal drug, but it might not work. If a person is overdosing on fentanyl, it could take up to three doses of Narcan to work. It could take between one to three Narcan doses for overdose on other opioids.

Do not touch the drugs used that caused the overdose. If the drugs consist of a powder-like substance, you will not know if it contains carfentanil. Even a miniscule amount of it on your hands could cause an adverse reaction.

Carfentanil addiction can occur, but more often, a fatality occurs. If you suspect you or someone you care about is struggling with opioid addiction, seek addiction treatment as soon as you can. It might save a life.

Sources

Pharmacy Times. (2016, September 13) 7 Things to Know About Carfentanil. Ross, M. Retrieved from https://www.pharmacytimes.com/news/7-things-to-know-about-carfentanil

Verywell Mind. (2020, March 23) The Dangerous Hidden Ingredients in Cocaine. Hartley, E. BSc., MSc., MA, PhD Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-in-cocaine-21989

Wikipedia. Carfentanil. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carfentanil

SAMHSA. (2020, September 1) Medication-assisted Treatment. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment

Drug Enforcement Administration. (2018 July) Officer Safety Alert. Carfentanil: A Dangerous New Factor in the U.S. Opioid Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2018-07/hq092216_attach.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, March 19)Opioid Overdose. Synthetic Opioid Overdose Data. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/fentanyl.html

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