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Addiction and drug abuse – Part 2: Some deadly synthetic drugs seized in 2016

Addiction and drug abuse – Part 2: Some deadly synthetic drugs seized in 2016

01-23 | CDAH Team

Every year, millions of prescription pills are circulated in the market for medical use in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain that would translate into a bottle of pills for every adult in the U.S.

In addition, the death rate due to prescription drug addiction has reached an all-time high. To top it all, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says that hundreds and thousands of counterfeit prescription pills laced with deadly synthetic drugs continue to infiltrate the U.S. market.

These pills are manufactured in pharmacy-grade factories in such a manner that they look identical to legitimate prescription painkillers. The rate of such production has risen, perhaps to cater to the increasing opioid demand in the illegal market. These drugs are potent, unregulated and hardly distinguishable from pharmacy-grade medication until tested in a laboratory. Prescription drugs laced with these synthetic drugs continue to baffle the law enforcement agencies who made some big seizures related to the drugs in 2016.

Drugs laced with carfentanil

For many years, carfentanil was considered a chemical weapon and is about 5,000 times stronger than heroin and about 100 times stronger than fentanyl. Carfentanil is extremely toxic and even a few grains of the substance are enough to kill a person. There have been over 400 documented cases of seizures of the chemical in the U.S. in 2016. In July 2016, paramedics in Akron, Ohio reported 236 overdose cases, including 14 deaths, suspected to be linked to carfentanil. According to the DEA, the Ohio coroner’s office confirmed eight carfentanil overdose deaths in Cincinnati in September 2016.

Unfortunately, the DEA reports only account for the samples confiscated by federal, state and local forensic laboratories. The severity and distribution of drugs laced with this deadly chemical are likely to be much bigger.

Deadly synthetic opioid W-18

This deadly synthetic opioid is about 10,000 times more powerful than the classic opiate. It is a chemical intended for forensic and research applications. The drug was synthesized in Canada over 30 years ago, but till date, its physiological and toxicological effects on humans are unknown. The compound first surfaced in North America as fake OxyContin in 2015. After its arrival, the reported fentanyl-related deaths increased by almost twofold from 120 in 2014 to 213 in 2015.

According to law enforcement agencies, the compound is being smuggled from laboratories in China. It is yet to be listed as a controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act, nor is it on the DEA’s radar as a drug of concern.

Fentanyl-laced drugs

Fentanyl was synthesized in 1959. Similar to oxycodone, it is used to treat pain. This compound along with its analogues continue to be manufactured and distributed illegally. The DEA speculates that 666,666 pills can be made per kilo of fentanyl and each pill can be sold between $10 and $20.

Between January and April 2016, the Guardian reported 52 overdose cases, of which 10 perished in California due to medications laced with fentanyl that were made to look like painkiller Norco. According to a DEA report, the producers of such fake drugs were inconsistent while dosing fentanyl, suggesting that they were new to incorporating fentanyl in pills.

Road to recovery

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug abuse, it is important to seek professional help. Contact the Colorado Drug Addiction Help to avail the best addiction treatment centers in Colorado. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-218-7546 or chat online with our medical representatives to get assistance in locating the best drug addiction treatment centers in Colorado. One must not delay in treatment or it can worsen the situation

Read other articles of the series “Addiction and drug abuse:”

Part 1: Helping a person with drug addiction

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