Carfentanil: The Elephant Sedative Killing People

If there was ever a drug designed to wreak havoc – this is it!
5 milligrams (about 1/16th the size of a baby aspirin) is strong enough to take down a one-ton Buffalo, actually make that 7 one-ton Buffalos, and it’s readily available through illicit sales on street corners throughout the US. It is also now one of the leading causes of opioid related death, which claimed over 33,000 lives (out of 52,000+ drug related overdose deaths) in 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Carfentanil first showed up in the Ohio area in mid-2016 and has been advancing it’s destructive power across the nation with a vengeance. If it came in a bottle, it would need to have a warning label that is longer than the Great Wall of China, stating something to the effect of “If you take this drug, you are committing suicide. Avoid it at all costs.” In fact, its only legal use is for the sedation of large animals, like “elephants”.

Addicts generally work their way up to Carfentanil.
The typical gateway is by medical prescription for something like Oxycontin, with the user then graduating to cheaper heroin once the prescriptions run out. In fact, the majority of heroin users admit they started with prescription opioids. They beckon you like the sirens from Greek mythology, tempting you past your breaking point. It eventually gets to a level that heroin is no longer nearly enough, so you start taking fentanyl, many multiple times stronger than morphine which sucked so many war veterans into addiction during the Vietnam era. Your tolerance builds as your habit expands from a few days a week to every day. Eventually fentanyl too is not enough. What else is there? Carfentanil. ‘Do I risk it?’ is what an addict should now ask himself, but they rarely listen to their voice of reason. They jump ‘all in’ without any thought or concern of consequences, they just want to get high. Then again, oftentimes they don’t even get to make that choice, it’s made for them. Carfentanil is so cheap that it’s used as an additive on the street. I read an article the other day where someone bought street Xanax. It was laced with Carfentanil; he was dead within minutes. This same scenario has repeated itself throughout the country, as drug dealers seek to convert a small amount of Carfentanil, into a large amount of sale-able product, mixing it with ‘whatever is available’, solely to line their pockets with addicts’ money.

The Elephant Sedative Killing People
Typical Gateway Drug
Carfentanil is also a concern for first responders. It is odorless, colorless and can be absorbed via skin contact, inhalation, oral exposure or ingestion. EMS crews typically wear protective gloves and masks because a dose as small as a grain of salt could kill a person even if just absorbed through the skin, much like Anthrax.

The increases in opioid-related emergencies are overwhelming the country on a state-by-state and city-by-city basis. Incidents are up 13.3 percent in Minnesota, over 20 percent throughout Ohio and the numbers are even worse in Kentucky, New Hampshire, New Mexico and West Virginia. The growth in Native American communities is by far the worst at 32.7 percent. 50 people recently overdosed in one day alone in Philadelphia, which experienced 35 overdose related deaths over five days. Cincinnati had 174 overdoses in six days, Cleveland 46 in one day and tiny Akron 236 over 20 consecutive days. In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency after opioids killed nearly 1,500 residents in the first nine months of 2016. The US represents just 4.6 percent of the world’s population, yet we consume 80 percent of its opioids.

So, where’s all this Carfentanil coming from?
The usual suspects. China and India were the largest suppliers for the illegal online pharmacies during the early 2000s

Distributors located in the Caribbean and Central American countries, typically run by American ex-pats, bought knock-offs of everything from Viagra to Xanax to Oxycontin for pennies a pill, sending shipments ‘directly to your door’ without the need of a pesky prescription. Those same large suppliers simply shifted to the next hot product and now sell to Mexican cartels distributing it street-by-street. After recent pressure from the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), China clamped down on bootleg opioid operations to curb the flow of illicit drugs into the US. Yet, the Mexican drug-lords are resourceful. I fear it won’t take too much time for them to find other suppliers to fill the gap. There’s already evidence of them trying to produce substantial quantities on their own, to eliminate the need for an outside source.

According to the DEA, 144 people now die each day from a drug overdose. As recently as 10 years ago, gun related deaths outnumbered drug overdose deaths by a factor of 5-to-1. Today more people die from opioids than guns and traffic accidents combined. It is estimated that 600 people try heroin for the first time each and every day.

The issue is now mission critical. President Trump has appointed a SWAT Team of business executives to tackle the opioid crisis, led by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, a leading businessman and near billionaire in his own right. They are already working with a ‘Who’s Who’ of Fortune 500 Company leaders including such luminaries as Apple’s Tim Cook and Microsoft’s Bill Gates, just to name a few. Kipu and our sister company, InRecovery Magazine, have reached out to this Team to offer our unique experience, knowledge, perspective and support. We are hopeful that this is a key step toward helping to start to turn the tide in this life-or-death struggle against addiction.

-Jefferey Fiorentino

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