The opioid epidemic in the United States is an unprecedented public health crisis. More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record and the majority of drug overdose deaths involved an opioid (www.hhs.gov). Since 1999, the rate of drug overdose deaths involving opioid nearly quadrupled and over 165,000 people have died from opioid overdoses. And just when we thought we had seen the worst of the opioid epidemic, the new synthetic “carfentanil” emerges on the scene threatening to decimate communities across America.
What is Carfentanil and Why is it so Dangerous?
Carfentanil is an incredibly powerful synthetic opioid normally used as an elephant sedative (6 Reasons Carfentanil is About to turn Our World Upside Down, Carise, Deni, http://www.huffingtonpost.com). Carfentanil is in the same class as other opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, and prescription pain killer like Oxycodone. Carfentanil is 10,000 times stronger than morphine and has been found in tainted heroin batches and even sold as the drug itself.
Carfentanil Introduces Communities to Next Level Opioid Synthetic
The introduction of carfentanil into U.S. drug markets has caused an unprecedented spike in opioid-related overdose deaths. Carfentanil, and the synthetic opioid fentanyl, are often mixed into batches of heroin with deadly results. Experts claim that an amount of carfentanil smaller than a snowflake could kill a person (Drug Linked to Ohio Overdoses Can Kill in Doses Smaller than a Snowflake, Healy, Jack, http://www.nytimes.com). In fact, carfentanil is so strong that just a few granules the size of grains of table salt can be lethal.
Law enforcement agencies believe the carfentanil makes its way into the U.S. from South America of Mexico after drug traffickers order the drug online from manufacturers in China.
Carfentanil Introduce to U.S. Markets as Demand for Opioids Increased
In the last several years, heroin use in the U.S. has skyrocketed. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published data showing heroin use increased 63% between 2002 and 2013 (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, http://www.cdc.gov). Heroin use has increased throughout the U.S. and addiction to prescription pain killers is likely fueling that rise (Heroin Use in U.S. Reaches Epidemic Levels, Sifferlin, Alexandra, http://www.time.com). The unprecedented rise in heroin use in the U.S. has created demand for other opioid drugs like the synthetic opioid carfentanil.
Until the opioid epidemic is adequately addressed in our communities, drugs like carfentanil will continue to kill unwitting addicts at alarming rates. An essential component to any effective plan to battle opioid addiction is expanding access to evidence-base addiction treatment. Evidence-based treatment programs use modern science-based approaches to address every major aspect of drug addiction. The Boulevard Center in Los Angeles, California is a cutting-edge evidence-based treatment facility providing detox, residential, and outpatient treatment services. To learn more about the Boulevard Center’s evidence-based treatment program visit http://www.blvdcenters.org.