Drug abuse and overdose epidemics go through trends. In the 1970’s, heroin was a major problem in the United States. In the 1980’s, it was cocaine. Today, it is opioids, synthetic but potent drugs frequently found in pain medication. One opioid found both in the pharmacy as well as on the street is a very potent drug called Fentanyl, of which stronger and stronger strains are being made and sold.
Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin and up to 100 times more potent than morphine. It has been responsible for a large number of deaths, often because the user isn’t aware that the heroin they purchased was laced with fentanyl. To make matters worse, strains of fentanyl are being made to be stronger and more dangerous. Of course, when there are strong drugs available on the street, more people are at risk for abuse and overdose. They are also at risk of becoming resistant to emergency drugs that are meant to save them in the event of an overdose.
Strains of Fentanyl
According to a Special Report published by the National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS), there are over 15 versions of fentanyl. Chemically speaking, a strain of fentanyl is also known as a structural analog or simply analog. An analog is a compound having a similar chemical structure of another one but is different in one or two components, changing the effect or other characteristics of the drug. Analogs of fentanyl include:
- 3-Methylfentanyl (TMF) – This drug is responsible for an opioid epidemic in Estonia and for overdoses in California between 1984 and 1985. Typically, it has only seen short epidemics because of its significant potency.
- 3-Methylthiofentanyl – This drug was sold in the black market in the 1980’s. It was also responsible for deaths in Eastern Europe.
- Acetyl Fentanyl – Acetyl Fentanyl is also known as desmethyl fentanyl. It requires a stronger dose of Naloxone in order to save a life. It is 5 to 15 times stronger than heroin. Users typically use it intravenously as a direct substitute for heroin or painkillers. However, those who use it may suffer severe consequences because of its potency.
- Acrylfentanyl – Unlike other forms of fentanyl which may be used medically, acrylfentanyl has no medical purpose. According to reports, this drug is resistant to Narcan, a drug that is meant to save individuals in an opioid overdose.
- Alfentanyl – This drug has approximately 1/4 to 1/10 the strength of fentanyl and roughly 1/3 of duration. However, the onset of its effects is roughly 4 times faster than fentanyl.
- Butyrfentanyl – This is a strong, fast-acting drug with roughly 1/4 the potency of fentanyl.
- Carfentanyl – This drug has been sold for medical purposes, but because of its potency it has also been sold on the street. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency issued a warning about this drug late last year. Carfentanyl is 100 times stronger than fentanyl and 50 times stronger than heroin.
- Para-fluorofentanyl – This drug was developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals in the 1960’s. This strain of fentanyl substitutes para-flouraoaniline for aniline in its makeup.
- Remifentanyl – Remifentanyl is frequently used medically during surgery to relieve pain. It is twice as strong as fentanyl and up to 200 times stronger than morphine.
- Sufentanyl – This drug has been used medically and can be up to 10 times stronger than fentanyl and 500 stronger than morphine.
- Ocfentanyl – Ocfentanyl is commonly sold as heroin in the street but is actually much stronger, leading to overdoses and deaths. Ocfentanyl is a naloxone-reversible substance.
Drugs that are altered slightly from its original form, are known as designer drugs. The list above represents some of the fentanyl strains which are considered to be designer drugs. These drugs are typically created to be stronger so that its users will continue to crave more; in some cases, dangerous ingredients are added without the knowledge of the user. For instance, Spice is a designer drug containing marijuana, household cleaning products, and even lighter fluid. Those addicted to drugs often do not evaluate the risk, due to the effects of long-term drug exposure that significantly affects brain function. Seeking and taking the drug becomes both compulsive and repetitive.
Getting Treatment for a Drug Addiction
When it is time to get the help you need for a drug addiction, you typically start with an efficient and safe detoxification process. This is the preliminary step to begin any form of recovery. The most successful drug detox available is the individualized and medically supervised centers. A private and comfortable environment, combined with a dedicated licensed medical staff can provide the most thorough care needed through the detoxification process. A medically supervised detox is particularly important in the case of opioid-based drugs which can cause a severe physiological withdrawal.
Once you detox from opioid-based drugs, you could still experience some negative symptoms, both physically and mentally. That is why so many people continue to abuse opioids or relapse soon after detox. An important part of a detox process is to get individuals somewhat stabilized. It is crucial to provide patients with a comfortable and safe place, surrounded by caring and knowledgeable professionals, to safely navigate through this regulating phase.
The Waismann Method® have combined a superior medical opioid detoxification in a full-service hospital, with an exclusive and private recovery retreat. We believe that there is no therapeutical reason for unnecessary suffering or public judgment. People have different histories, difficulties, and needs which should be met and respected.
We believe in treating one patient at a time, so they are carefully heard and properly understood. Providing drug treatment with unwavering respect and empathy is how we achieve success.