Carfentanil, Killer Sidekick to Oxycontin?
Nowadays, most everyone knows about opiate drugs and the potential dangers they bring. Opiates alone account for the addiction epidemic sweeping the country today. Both Oxycontin and carfentanil belong to the opiate drug class and they both produce powerful effects.
Once touted as the “miracle” pain-reliever of the 1990s, Oxycontin’s reputation soon turned to that of one of the most dangerous drugs to ever enter the market. In effect, Oxycontin caused more overdose deaths than any other drug in history.
Carfentanil is indeed a killer cousin, making Oxycontin look like a mild pain-reliever by comparison. Commonly used as a veterinary tranquilizer agent for large animals, carfentanil’s potency level equates to 10,000 times stronger than morphine, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
As opiate addiction rates continue to rise, carfentanil abuse has increased as well; however, the dangers surrounding carfentanil extend well past the intentional use of this drug.
Oxycontin and Carfentanil – Similarities & Differences
While Oxycontin and carfentanil may both belong to the opiate drug class, Oxycontin’s primary purpose works to relieve moderate to severe pain symptoms, whereas carfentanil is designed to act as a tranquilizer agent. Also of note: one is for human consumption and the other is not.
According to the National Center for Biotechology Information, carfentanil’s effects can easily overwhelm the brain’s ability to maintain the body’s major systems. This characteristic alone carries grave implications in terms of just how quickly this drug can kill.
Onset of Effects & Potency Levels
Carfentanil is derived from fentanyl, which is a fast-acting drug. With Oxycontin, it takes up to an hour before a person feels its effects. Carfentanil takes effect within a matter minutes.
Carfentanil’s potency level also warrants cause for concern considering its 100 times more powerful than fentanyl. Considering fentanyl amounts as small as two milligrams can be lethal, carfentanil can kill in minuscule amounts.
A drug’s abuse-addiction potential has to do with how quickly it alters the brain’s chemical system. With opiate use in any form, growing brain chemical imbalances create a domino effect, causing:
- An increasing tolerance for the drug
- Physical dependence
- Withdrawal episodes
- Drug cravings
- Psychological dependence, or addiction
As a general rule, powerful fast-acting opiates carry the highest addiction potential. In this respect, carfentanil’s addiction potential is off the charts.
Carfentanil appears in different forms, including tablets, powder, blotter paper and sprays. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, mixtures of carfentanil with other street drugs, such as heroin poses an especially high risk for overdose.
As if carfentanil wasn’t lethal enough on its own, mixing it with heroin or any other opiate-type drug only works to intensify its effects, making overdose all but a guarantee. In the case of powders and sprays, carfentanil can also be absorbed through the skin and kill a person within minutes.
As carfentanil distribution increases, rates of overdose for this drug may well put Oxycontin’s run to shame. In effect, opiate addiction in any form naturally drives a person to seek out stronger and stronger opiates. Once heroin abuse enters the picture, the likelihood of acquiring a carfentanil-laced batch is high.