Author: Justin Mckibben
First there was the opiate epidemic, with prescription opiate painkillers adding to an ever-increasing rate of heroin addiction. Then came the stories of fentanyl being laced into heroin in various states and soon all across the country, only magnifying the rates of overdoses and opiate-related deaths everywhere. As law enforcement, politicians and other public officials scattered in all directions with different propositions and opinions on how to solve the dilemma, things seemed to be taking a turn toward a new progressive direction for drug treatment. Now, a new synthetic opiate called W-18 is stirring the pot again, and this time the disastrous defects of this potent drug threaten to take an already desperate situation to a new level of lethal.
What is W-18?
W-18 is a synthetic opiate and psychoactive substance similar to heroin, but is said to be much more deadly. W-18 is stated to be the most powerful opioid of a series of about 30 compounds. Experts go as far as to describe W-18 as being:
- 100 times more potent than fentanyl
- 10,000 times stronger than morphine
Now this incredibly horrific opiate is making its way to America after first being discovered in Canada. Now even scarier is that while fentanyl is now classified as a controlled substance, W-18 has not yet been prohibited in Canada or in the United States. Back on January 26, 2016 W-18 was actually made illegal in Sweden, but Canada and America have yet to catch up with banning this appallingly toxic synthetic.
Where Did It Come From?
The drug W-18 was originally developed as a painkiller by scientists in Canada at the University of Alberta in 1981. Part of the reason W-18 and the effects if has on human beings is largely unknown is because the drug was deemed too strong after only ever being tested on lab mice. Because of the excessive strength, it was never picked up by pharmaceutical companies and eventually W-18 was simply forgotten… until now.
Currently many believe that this drug, much like the synthetic chemicals that came to produce the synthetic drug Flakka, are created in labs in China and sold over the internet. Because of the limited testing and information on this new threat, there is nearly no clear answer as to how addictive W-18 may be or what side-effects may result from long-term use.
The Damage Done
Now even though this may be the first time a lot of people have heard anything about this drug, W-18 has been causing some damage already, and in no small way.
In August of 2015 police in Canada first seized W-18 in Calgary when authorities confiscated 110 pills initially suspected to be made with fentanyl. Some of those pills were later discovered to contain traces of W-18. Then in mid-April, authorities announced that last December they had seized four kilograms of pure W-18 in Edmonton.
Recently in March more than 2.5 pounds of W-18 was found in the home of a Miramar, Florida man who was being arrested for selling fentanyl pills. This man was later sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
Police in New Hampshire are now warning about the drug making it into the area, with Plaistow and Bristol Police Departments posting on their Facebook pages to warn their communities about the drug.
The Sanford Maine Police Department and the Wells Maine Police Department both also have issued warnings on their Facebook pages about W-18 over the weekend.
The drug so far has been found to be pressed into pills mislabeled as OxyContin and other opiates being sold on the streets, or mixed into powdered heroin. Health officials are growing more and more concerned because not only do we not have enough data to truly tell us how lethal this experimental substance is, but the current drug tests cannot detect W-18 in a person’s blood or urine- making it especially difficult for doctors to help someone who may be overdosing.
Opiates have become one of the greatest threats against human lives today. More and more people are losing their lives in a tragic battle against opiate abuse, be it prescription painkillers or illicit and experimental synthetics. The last thing the world needs is another ingredient to this terrifying blend of man-made elements proving fatal.
Pills and powdered opiates are killing people every day all over the nation, and the heartbreak is only amplified when thinking of how the resources to help save those lives are there but people don’t take the first step towards changing. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, don’t wait. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The synthetic epidemic is one that has existed parallel to the ongoing and increasingly distressing heroin and opiate epidemic, but now a new synthetic opiate threatens to make a detrimental contribution to both sides of the troubled task of fighting these epidemics.
Synthetic Substance Problems
For a while it seemed like every other week you would hear about another synthetic form of a street drug was being marketed in corner stores and smoke-shops under clever brand disguises, or there was a new form of chemically-induced insanity like Bath Salts or Flakka with a name always stranger than the one before it. Overdoses, bizarre behaviors and even deaths escalated as a result of these unregulated and often mysteriously concocted ingredients as law enforcement struggled to keep up with constantly changing names and components.
As distributors did their best to avoid detection they changed an ingredient or two in the chemicals used to make the synthetic drugs, and this kept them slipping through loop holes and out of the grasp of law enforcement. New legislation has been proposed just to try and hone in on the problem, and many states are still stumbling trying to keep up.
This newest suspect to send a shock to the system is the synthetic opiate U-47700. In the last several decades the synthetic opiate U-47700 has generally been limited to laboratories, but is now this opiate is being “recycled” as a recreational drug on the streets.
The Trouble with U-47700
According to reports on the synthetic opiate U-47700 the drug is actually 7.5 times more powerful than morphine and can cost as low as $40 per gram! The synthetic opiate also has been reported to be abused in various ways including:
- Snorted in powder form
- Taken orally
- Injected intravenously
There have even been reports of individuals taking U-47700 rectally. At this point no matter how it is ingested, users should be aware that it comes with a great measure of danger. Most recently the synthetic opiate already sent two young adults in North Texas to the hospital, with one of the individuals in intensive care with respiratory depression.
This recent incident created such shock that it prompted the Parkland Health and Hospital System to release a statement last week desperately warning the community of the dangers of U-47700. In a Parkland Hospital press release Dr. Kristina Domanski, a toxicologist with the North Texas Poison Center stressed the nature of the drug as an experimental synthetic opiate, saying:
“This seems to be a pretty new recycling of the drug which is intended as a research drug and not for use in humans,”
This may be the first time you have ever even heard of U-47700, I know I had never heard of it… but this isn’t the first time this drug has brought some serious concerns to the table. This synthetic opiate has been linked to deaths throughout Europe, motivating Sweden and Finland to make it illegal, and back in February the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issued a statement regarding a death in Belgium that was connected to a combination of fentanyl and U-47700.
In this statement the UNODC noted that U-47700 has,
“…effects very similar to morphine and heroin, but with a significantly shorter duration of action.”
The intensity of this synthetic opiate creates an exacerbated threat potential for overdose, respiratory depression and death.
Internet Intervenes with the Issue
Users of the synthetic opiate have shared a variety of personal experiences on online forums like Bluelight and Reddit, and one Bluelight user quoted a parent whose son died from an accidental U-47700 overdose, stating:
“He was still sitting in his chair, so I hope with all my heart that he died quickly, painlessly and without fear. He was our only child…we don’t have answers, but these chemicals are far too dangerous. Live to be old, not just 22.”
A Reddit user described watching a friend almost succumb to an overdose on U-47700, but this individual was saved be the administration of Narcan.
With all the internet testimonies of users seeking a euphoric feeling and being met with near-death experiences it is probably fair to say that these online forums are helping spread the word on this dangerous and deadly synthetic drug that is making its way from the research labs to the mainstream drug scene.
But how is this drug getting on the streets? Well, that too is the internet… as plenty of sites also advertise being able to sell research chemicals. In fact, when I searched U-47700 on Google the third site to link to was selling the synthetic opiate in powdered form for $39.99 in U.S. dollars, so it apparently isn’t that hard to get a hold of.
The question is- will people heed the warnings being shouted out across the internet and news, or will this new potent and potentially lethal substance add a new element to the demoralization and ruin caused by the opiate epidemic.
Synthetic or ‘designer’ drugs are bad enough already, and the opiate problem has only continuously gotten worse. Although this research chemical may not be as well known, it is a tremendous threat, but there is an effective rehabilitation program to help. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135