In 2016, almost 2,500 Canadians died from opioid-related overdoses, with fentanyl as the main contributor to hundreds of deaths just this year alone. However, there’s another drug that is threatening the opioid epidemic. Carfentanyl is the newest killer that could drive opioid-related deaths even higher. Here’s what you should know about the dangerous drug.
What Is Carfentanil?
Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid that is 100 times more potent than fentanyl -another deadly opioid painkiller-, and 10,000 times more potent than morphine. It is often used as a sedative for large animals and is highly restricted by veterinarians.
How Potent Is Carfentanil?
The drug is so extremely powerful that even just 5 milligrams can knock out an elephant that is 26 to 72 times heavier than an average man. The synthetic opioid is odourless, colourless and can be absorbed either through inhalation, ingestion, skin contact or oral exposure. Therefore, just a dose the size of a grain of salt -whether inhaled, ingested or even absorbed through the skin- can kill a person.
What Makes Carfentanil Even More Dangerous
What makes carfentanil even more dangerous is that it resembles a lot like heroin and fentanyl. Carfentanil comes in the form of a white powdery substance, making it impossible to identify when mixed with such drugs. Drug dealers often mix carfentanil with other drugs to lower costs and to increase potency. Such drugs aren’t limited to heroin and fentanyl – traces of carfentanil have also been found in other drugs such as cocaine, Xanax and methamphetamine. With smugglers often unaware of the content, this ultimately puts the user at even greater risk.
A DEA report found that synthetic drugs will widely become even more available due to the easy and low-cost manufacturing process for such drugs. Just fentanyl alone is responsible for hundreds of opioid-related deaths. And if carfentanil is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, these figures could skyrocket soon.