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Carfentanil Addiction: Signs, Dangers and Treatment

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Carfentanil Addiction Treatment in Atlanta, GA
Picture of Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Dr. Mohsin Ali MD is board certified in Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Trained in Syracuse NY, he has worked in Tennessee for the last sixteen years.

Table of Contents

Carfentanil, an exceptionally potent synthetic opioid, was never intended for human use, being originally developed in the 1970s as a tranquilizer for large animals such as elephants. With a potency roughly 10,000 times that of morphine, even tiny amounts can be lethal to humans. Unfortunately, it often ends up in the hands of individuals, usually mixed with heroin, significantly increasing the risk of overdose. Carfentanil addiction is dangerous and can cause severe long-term consequences. If you or someone you know is struggling with misuse, please consider contacting our outpatient opioid treatment center in Chattanooga at 423-541-0656.

What is Carfentanil?

Synthesized first in 1974 and now classified as a Schedule II substance, carfentanil is chemically related to fentanyl, which is widely used in medicine for pain management and anesthesia. However, unlike fentanyl, carfentanil has no sanctioned medical applications for humans and is typically employed to sedate very large animals. Its inclusion in street drugs like heroin magnifies their potency and danger significantly.

What Does Carfentanil Look Like?

Carfentanil is usually found as a white powder that closely resembles other street drugs such as cocaine or heroin. This resemblance allows it to be easily mixed into street drugs without detection. It is notoriously part of a deadly combination known on the street as “gray death,” which includes heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids, thus named for its resemblance to concrete mix. It can be ingested by injection, smoking, or oral ingestion.

Is Carfentanil Addictive?

Like other powerful opioids, carfentanil has a high potential for abuse and addiction, classified under Schedule II narcotics. Its use can quickly lead to a dependency cycle, necessitating increasingly larger doses to achieve the same high, exacerbating the risk of overdose. This risk is often hidden, as users may not be aware they are consuming this potent additive when mixed with drugs like heroin.

What is Carfentanil Addiction?

Carfentanil, known for being 100 times more potent than fentanyl, presents a profound risk due to its extreme strength. Addiction to this substance can develop swiftly, trapping users in a dangerous cycle of intense dependency and withdrawal that is difficult to break without professional help. The effects of carfentanil are not only physically detrimental but also severely impact mental health, often contributing to disorders like depression, anxiety, and PTSD, thereby compounding the difficulty of recovery.

Recognizing the severe dangers associated with its use, treatment for carfentanil addiction at Iris Wellness Group in Chattanooga, TN, involves a specialized approach that addresses both the mental and physical facets of dependency. We provide a supportive environment that fosters recovery and facilitates a transition to a healthier, substance-free lifestyle.

If you are concerned about someone’s use of carfentanil or other opioids, take the crucial step of reaching out for professional assistance. Starting the journey toward recovery begins with the decision to seek help. Contact Iris Wellness Group at 423-541-0656 or via our online contact form to get the necessary support.

Signs and Symptoms of Carfentanil Addiction

Identifying carfentanil addiction early is essential for timely and effective treatment.

Symptoms of carfentanil addiction include:

  • Extreme tiredness or drowsiness
  • Confusion, often with slurred speech
  • Constricted pupils
  • Breathing difficulties, including slow or shallow breaths
  • Unconsciousness or frequent episodes of nodding off
  • Visible marks from injections
  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Withdrawal from social interactions
  • Financial issues or engaging in illegal activities to fund the addiction
  • Increasing tolerance, necessitating higher doses for the same effect

Signs of Carfentanil Addiction

Dangers of Carfentanil Overdose

The potency of carfentanil makes it exceptionally dangerous, with a very small amount capable of causing an overdose. Its potency exceeds that of many other opioids, and the line between a therapeutic and a lethal dose is dangerously thin. Recognizing the signs of a carfentanil overdose quickly can be lifesaving.

Signs of carfentanil overdose include:

  • Extreme drowsiness or unresponsiveness
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Severe disorientation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of coordination
  • Sudden dizziness or fainting
  • Unconsciousness
  • Symptoms of respiratory failure or potential heart failure

In the event of a suspected overdose, immediate medical intervention is critical. Call 911 immediately.

How Long Does Carfentanil Stay in Your System?

Carfentanil is known for its potency and brief but intense presence in the body. The substance has a half-life of around 5.7 hours, meaning that it takes this time for half of the drug to be processed out of the system. Its breakdown product, norcarfentanil, lasts about 11.8 hours. To fully clear carfentanil from your system, it typically takes around 28.5 hours, equivalent to five half-lives of the drug.

Carfentanil Withdrawal

The cessation of carfentanil can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms due to its high potency.

Those who stop using carfentanil may experience a range of withdrawal symptoms including:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Temperature swings with hot and cold flashes
  • Sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Diarrhea

These symptoms highlight the need for medical supervision during withdrawal, as they can range from mildly uncomfortable to severe and potentially life-threatening.

Carfentanil Withdrawal Timeline

Due to the scarcity of studies on humans, the withdrawal timeline for carfentanil can vary significantly but generally starts within 8 to 48 hours after the last dose. The intensity and duration of withdrawal are influenced by several factors, including the length of drug use and the usual dose.

Carfentanil Addiction Treatment in Chattanooga, TN

Addressing carfentanil addiction necessitates a comprehensive approach that tackles both the physical and psychological aspects of the dependency. Effective treatment may incorporate medication-assisted treatment, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and both individual and group counseling. Iris Wellness Group provides a range of specialized outpatient programs, including outpatient detox, PHP, and IOP, specifically designed to assist individuals in overcoming to carfentanil addiction in Chattanooga, TN. These programs support patients through recovery, aiming to establish a stable, substance-free life.

For those grappling with carfentanil addiction or seeking help for a loved one, reaching out for professional assistance is crucial. Iris Wellness Group is committed to providing the necessary support to navigate this challenging journey. Contact us at 423-541-0656 or through our online form to start the path to recovery.

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