Carfentanil Addiction | Overview, Warning Signs, Dangers, & Treatment

Those most at risk of being exposed to carfentanil are those who struggle with severe opioid addiction.

Carfentanil is a dangerous, ultrapotent synthetic opioid that is not intended for human use. Nevertheless, law enforcement officials have reported that it has recently made appearances as a street drug, with tragic results.

What Is Carfentanil?

In recent decades the United States has struggled tremendously with a long surge in opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose deaths, known collectively as the American Opioid Epidemic.

The three waves of this epidemic have each involved specific substances, namely:

  • prescription opioid painkillers
  • heroin
  • fentanyl and other synthetic opioid drugs like carfentanil

Carfentanil is a structural analogue of fentanyl. Along with certain approved medical uses, fentanyl is also produced as a deadly illicit street drug.

Fentanyl is around 80-100 times stronger than morphine by weight. Carfentanil is far stronger still, and is estimated to be around 10,000 times as potent as morphine, 4,000 times more potent than heroin, and 20 to 100 times more potent than fentanyl.

What Is Carfentanil Used For?

Carfentanil is reserved for use by veterinarians. It can be administered to large animals through injection or even loaded into tranquilizer darts to subdue bears, elephants, lions, and other creatures from a safe distance.

Warning Signs Of Carfentanil Addiction

Those most at risk of being exposed to carfentanil are those who struggle with severe opioid addiction, a form of substance use disorder. This condition may cause individuals to turn to counterfeited street drugs or drugs ordered from fraudulent internet pharmacies to get high.

Common opioid/carfentanil addiction symptoms and signs of abuse include:

  • an inability to control opioid use
  • increasing dose or frequency of drug use
  • severe drug cravings
  • drowsiness
  • sleep problems
  • weight loss
  • mental health changes
  • frequent flu-like illness
  • decreased libido
  • decreased hygiene and self-care
  • social isolation
  • sudden financial strain
  • drug-seeking behavior, often including theft and “doctor shopping”

Dangers Of Carfentanil Abuse

According to law enforcement, the greatest risk posed by carfentanil is that it may be used by those who are not aware of what drug they are actually ingesting.

Carfentanil is cheaply transported into the United States via black market smuggling, and it may be diluted into different forms and sold under the guise of other substances, including prescription opioids and heroin.

However, even the smallest error in dosage during this process can result in a sudden and severe carfentanil side effects. This fact has earned carfentanil a variety of colorful street names including “drop dead,”, “serial killer,” and “gray death.”

The drug is so potent, in fact, that first responders are advised to take extreme precautions against inhaling or making skin contact with it.

Carfentanil Overdose

Unlike some opioids, which may trigger a somewhat delayed overdose, signs of a carfentanil overdoses are likely to be immediate:

  • a sudden blue color shift in a person’s lips and fingertips
  • gurgling sounds and breathing difficulties due to respiratory depression
  • muscular stiffening or seizures
  • foaming at the mouth
  • confusion and a dramatic change in a person’s ability to think or respond to their surroundings

As the drug continues to influence the human body, deepening the overdose, other signs and symptoms will likely include:

  • constricted/pinpoint pupils
  • cold, clammy skin
  • shallow or interrupted breathing
  • low blood pressure
  • decreased or stopped heart rate
  • extreme sedation/drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • limpness
  • loss of consciousness

How Should You Respond To A Carfentanil Overdose?

Any drug overdose should be considered a potentially life-threatening medical emergency. If you suspect one has occurred, summon immediate medical attention.

If the overdose shows signs of being caused by an opiate or opioid drug, you can also administer naloxone, a drug sold as a nasal spray under the brand name Narcan.

Naloxone works to block the body’s opioid receptors, stripping away opioid drugs and rapidly reversing opioid overdose effects. Carfentanil, however, is so potent that normal emergency doses of naloxone may not be enough to fully reverse an overdose if one occurs.

Carfentanil Addiction Treatment Programs

Opioid/carfentanil abuse can lead to tragic results and withdrawals. However, drug addiction and dependence can be treated effectively through proven, approved programs hosted at treatment centers across the United States.

These treatment options may include:

If you or a loved one struggle with an opioid use disorder, please reach out to Northeast Addictions Treatment Center today.


What Does Carfentanil Look Like?

Carfentanil can come in different forms. When in a powder, it’s usually yellow or white. When it’s a liquid, it can be completely clear. As a tablet, it’s usually blue, pink, or white, but this depends on whether it has been mixed with other drugs.

Learn more about Carfentanil Identification

What Is Slang For Carfentanil?

The most common slang terms for carfentanil include Apache, China Girl, Drop Dead, Gray Death, Serial Killer, and TNT. Many of these terms also refer to fentanyl. That’s because carfentanil is a fentanyl analog, which means the drugs are chemically similar to each other.

Learn more about Carfentanil Street Names

How Long Does Carfentanil Stay In Your System?

Carfentanil, a potent synthetic opioid, can stay in your system for about 36 hours. However, the liver metabolizes carfentanil into norcarfentanil, a metabolite that can last in your body for 2.5 days.

A drug screen can detect carfentanil and its metabolites for up to 48 hours in blood, 4 days in urine, and 90 days in hair follicles.

Learn more about How Long Carfentanil Stays In Your System

What Does A Carfentanil High Feel Like?

A carfentanil high can cause feelings of severe drowsiness, sedation, euphoria, and numbness. In severe cases, taking too much carfentanil can feel like your body is shutting down. Carfentanil can cause a life-threatening overdose in small doses.

Learn more about a Carfentanil High

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

©2024 Northeast Addition Center | All Rights Reserved

This page does not provide medical advice.

Ready to make a change? Talk to a specialist now.