Within the Palm Beach County area, drug overdoses are not uncommon. However, within the past few months, more and more emergency rooms are seeing patients come through the doors having overdosed on a medication much stronger than what they have seen in the past – carfentanil.
Carfentanil is an opioid substance that is used to sedate elephants and has never been used in professional medicine for human beings. Instead, humans have been prescribed morphine and fentanyl for sedation and pain relief. The problem here isn’t that the medications mentioned are meant for one species over the other, but that carfentanil is 50 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, making it extremely dangerous.
Many people might think that, since this highly potent medication is used to sedate large animals like elephants, it is contained within zoo or other wildlife settings. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Like many other substances that are available on the streets, carfentanil has made its way into the hands of dealers and addicts alike, posing a severe problem. Within the past seven months, 50 people within South Florida, including the Palm Beach County area and places like Boca Raton, have died as a result of carfentanil use. Sadly, not all of those who lost their lives to this drug were even aware of how powerful it was. In addition to those who have lost their lives, at least another 40 cases of overdoses on carfentanil (which were not fatal) have been reported.
The rise in the abuse of carfentanil and the increase in overdoses because of that abuse are extremely alarming trends not just for the people of southern Florida, but also for people throughout the country, as this substance and its abuse is popping up all over. For years, the public has been aware of the prescription painkiller epidemic that has infiltrated their communities where medications, such as Vicodin, morphine, and OxyContin are commonly used. In more recent years, these same individuals have seen an increase in heroin use, as those who were previously addicted to prescription painkillers and other opioid-based medications turned to the use of heroin, as it became more accessible, was more affordable, and produces the same effect. Now, however, the thought that there is something out there that is taking lives as fast as carfentanil is ignites fear in many people.
What the rise of this substance proves is that it is extremely easy to suffer an overdose in today’s society, especially when opioid substances are involved. When purchasing substances illicitly, it is impossible to be able to tell for sure that the substance that is being obtained is what the dealer says it is. In addition, many dealers will expand their supply by cutting their substances with more powerful substances like carfentanil, which puts those who purchase these substances at increased risk for overdose. Additionally, any type of substance abuse always produces a significant risk for an overdose, especially if the individual is abusing other substances simultaneously.
If you or someone you care for is struggling with substance abuse, it is imperative that help is obtained as quickly as possible to prevent an overdose from occurring.