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Imported Chinese Drug, Carfentanil, Makes Heroin Even More Dangerous

What Is Happening?

The newest drug option available on the streets is a drug from China, called carfentanil. This drug is meant to be used for tranquilizing elephants and other giant sized animals. Because its intent is for medical use, it is legal in China, which makes it easy for getting it out of the country and into America. Once in the USA, the drug is often mixed with heroin, to create a much more potent drug and a much more intense high.

Why Is It Happening?

It is becoming common knowledge that drug addiction rates are increasing in the United States, largely due to opioid addiction. However, as people’s addictions grow and new people become addicted each day, it has created a market for ways for those with addictions and those who sell drugs to addicts to find lower priced opioids, opioid substitutes, and options more powerful than opioids.

Unfortunately, many are using heroin as an opioid substitute, because the drug is significantly cheaper and it can be much easier to obtain for many addicts. Much like opioid addiction, heroin addiction requires that the user’s body obtain increasing amounts of the drug in order to feel the wanted effects. Adding carfentanil to heroin increases those effects, which can mean not needing to take as much of the drug at a time or not needing to seek the drug as often per day, both of which are great benefits to the person who is addicted.

The problem is that carfentanil is often mixed or cut into the heroin as it is available, without any labels or notifications to the drug dealer or to the person who is taking the drug. Some estimate that carfentanil is as much as 5,000 times more potent than heroin on its own, which means that including any of it into heroin will significantly change the effects it has on the human body when introduced into the blood stream. This means that it is easier than ever to overdose and require medical attention. However, even in the cases where a physician can reach a patient before their death, the exact dosage of each drug in the body is unknown, which can make an overdose much more difficult to treat. This leads to a higher likelihood of death, as well as a higher rate of death for heroin users collectively.

How Might This Effect Me?

If you are a person who is already struggling with an opioid or heroin addiction, the there is a chance you may be exposed to carfentanil. This may be because the addiction will encourage you to seek new ways to feel high or because you may be introduced to carfentanil without realizing it as it may be mixed into what you expect to be pure heroin. If this occurs, the risk of overdose is quite high and the chance of being saved by a medical professional is quite low. This means that each interaction with a drug may become much more likely to be fatal than ever before, even if your drug dealer or your friends think they can tell whether carfentanil has been cut into the heroin being used.

In addition, this awareness may lead more people to seek opioid or heroin addiction treatment, either by their own choice or by interventions from their families and loved ones. This can lead to increased wait times in hospitals and treatment facilities, as well as a shortage of available opportunities to go to an in-patient rehabilitation facility in your own community. While the community overall benefits from a reduced rate of drug addiction within their jurisdiction, the process of getting treatment can become much more difficult and lengthy when the rates of those wanting a sober life exceed the capacities of facilities.

What Can I Do To Help?

If you are struggling with addiction, you can contact your local clinic, hospital, or treatment facility to discuss your options for getting the help you need to become and remain sober.  If you are someone who is considering a career in mental healthcare, you may wish to research whether you might be a good fit to specialize in addiction treatment therapy.  If you are someone with financial resources, you may decide to donate money to your local clinic to help them to afford more beds and more staff to treat more patients simultaneously.  Do not fear if you are none of those, however, as you can always provide help through facility volunteer programs, through asking your local treatment clinic what items they need that you can donate to them or collect for them.  Lastly, you can discuss with your local workplace or school what protocols are in place to help those in your community who are in need of an intervention or emotional support in order to take the first steps toward sobriety.1-6

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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  5. Thibodeaux, A. (2016). China drug making heroin even more dangerous. St. Charles Herald-Guide. Retrieved 23 December 2016, from
  6. World’s Most Dangerous Drug? Carfentanil makes its case. (2016). Retrieved 23 December 2016, from