With the opioid crisis sweeping through the Western world, it is more evident in the US than in any other country. The phenomenon has now become even harder to control and more alarming with a growing trend of infusing heroin with elephant tranquilizers, a substance originally designed for an animal weighing on average 5,000 kilos. The drug is 5,000 to 10,000 times stronger than morphine so unsurprisingly this is leading to devastating results, with an increasing number of reported overdoses in connection with the drug. In September last year, the US Drug Enforcement Agency reported that it caused 60 overdoses over 48 hours across the states of Ohio and Indiana.
What could possibly be the appeal of this, even for the most hardened users? Presumably it is the promise of a stronger high, but the sad reality is that a lot of people don’t realise the drug’s contents when their dealer offers it to them. “It shows how callous these drug dealers are. It has no human use whatsoever and they’re putting it out on the street and wreaking havoc.” says Tom Synan, who heads up the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition in Ohio.
To gain an idea of just how powerful Carfentanil is, only 18 grams a year is needed to satisfy the needs of all the zookeepers and vets in the US combined. In human terms, the substance is 100 times stronger than Fentanyl, the lethal substance that was found in Prince’s body after his death.
There is no doubt that this is a serious problem, and one that is becoming all too common in mainstream drug abuse. But due to the power of Carfentanil and its ability to become absorbed through human skin, monitoring the problem is not easy; emergency services can’t detect the presence of this substance at the scene as they are at such a high risk of coming into contact with it.
Sales of heroin containing Carfentanil have also just been reported in the north of England, where there were also 6 recent deaths caused by Prince’s killer Fentanyl. This is an epidemic that will continue to spread if we don’t take notice, but the war on drugs is never easy.