What Is Carfentanil And How Does It Work?

Carfentanil is the most deadly fentanyl analog, and it has been linked to an alarming number of human overdose deaths in several locations across the United States.

12/21/20223 min read

Carfentanil is the most deadly fentanyl analog, and it has been linked to an alarming number of human overdose deaths in several locations across the United States. To improve its strength, this illegally made drug is frequently blended with heroin. As a result, purchasers may be unaware of exactly what they are consuming.

What Is Carfentanil and How Does It Work?

Carfentanil is one of a number of fentanyl analogs with a chemical structure similar to fentanyl. However, because specialized toxicity testing is necessary, it is not usually discovered. Carfentanil, like fentanyl, is a morphine-based synthetic narcotic analgesic.

Carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, which is around 100 times more powerful than morphine. Carfentanil, in other words, is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. Carfentanil has never been approved for use in humans. It is used to sedate huge animals, mainly elephants, in veterinary medicine.

Indeed, the medicine is so potent that veterinarians must wear protective equipment when handling it to avoid inhaling it or absorbing it via their skin. The medication is available for purchase both online and on the streets. "Drop dead," "C.50," "serial killer," and "grey death" are some of the street names for carfentanil when combined with other opioid or opioid-like substances.

Carfentanil is frequently used as a cutting agent in other narcotics such as heroin and fentanyl, putting users at danger of overdose and other consequences.

How Can You Know If You're Dealing With Carfentanil?

Fentanyl analogs that are chemically identical to fentanyl but are non-medical, completely manufactured, and illegal include:

  • Acetylfentany

  • Furanylfentanyl

  • Ocfentanil

  • Carfentanil
    The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has also found at least 15 other similar chemicals, including some that are brand new, such as U-47700.

Carfentanil on the street first appeared in the early 2000s, and cases have been on the rise since 2016. The material has been found in powder, pill, and capsule forms, as well as in liquid and blotter paper. As a result, it can be pharmacologically active when administered orally, intranasally, subcutaneously, intravenously, and intramuscularly.
Carfentanil can also be absorbed through the skin or inhaled accidentally as a powder in the air.

What Is the Effect of Carfentanil on Humans?

Carfentanil binds quickly to opioid receptors in the brain, overloading neuronal chemistry and quickly causing overdose symptoms.

When fentanyl binds to the opioid receptors in the brain, it produces strong euphoria and drowsiness. The presence of the narcotic causes raised dopamine levels and a reduced ability for the opioid receptors to absorb this neurotransmitter, resulting in these symptoms.

Opioid overdoses are often characterized by depressed, irregular, or halted breathing, which is controlled by these receptors. Carfentanil depresses the respiratory center, suppresses the cough reflex, and induces pupil constriction, similar to other opioid agonists.

Side Effects of Carfentanil

Carfentanil has drowsiness and sedation as adverse effects. Other major symptoms include:

  • Drowsiness that comes on suddenly

  • Breathing that is slowed or stopped

  • Disorientation

  • Sedation

  • Pupils should be identified.

  • Skin that is clammy

  • Death

Overdosage with Carfentanil

Because even a small amount of carfentanil (e.g., a 2 mg dosage) can kill a person, the substance's primary medical consequence is overdose and death. Only when many doses or continuous infusions of the opioid antidote naloxone (Narcan) are given quickly after carfentanil usage can a person survive. A lot of the time, this type of treatment doesn't work. Carfentanil-related deaths soared by 94% in the first half of 2017, but then appeared to level out in 2018. This could be because China added carfentanil to its list of restricted substances in 2017, causing the US supply to dry up. At around the same time, overdose deaths from two additional fentanyl analogs — acrylfentanyl and furanylfentanyl — began to rise. According to preliminary data, the pace of increase in drug overdose deaths in the United States is increasing and astounding (30 percent in the year ended February 2021). While the impact of carfentanil to that increase rate has yet to be determined, every fentanyl analog is likely to have had a role in the surge.

Is Carfentanil a Compulsive Drug?
People are consuming and possibly abusing carfentanil, according to reports from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Carfentanil has also been linked to illicit distribution, use, and overdose deaths in Canada, according to health officials.

Across the last few years, there have been numerous reports of illicit carfentanil seizures all over the world. We can't, however, guess on the drug's "addictiveness." The following are the four basic causes behind this:

  1. Carfentanil's potential for abuse has not been investigated in controlled investigations, either preclinical or clinical.

  2. There are no controlled pharmacological data on carfentanil's dependence or tolerance potential in non-human species or humans.

  3. In humans, the potency of illegally made fentanyl analogs has not been tested.

  4. Carfentanil's fatal dosage range in humans is unknown.

  5. Carfentanil is not mentioned in SAMHSA's 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), and there is no information on its prevalence in the 2017 Global Drug Survey. What we do know is that carfentanil has a very high overdose rate. Few people are likely to remain addicted to the chemical for long, as they will most likely die from overdosing on it.