New synthetic drugs are creating concern in the U.S.

by Caroline Chidester, ’17


Starting in August, there has been a string of drug overdoses attributed to heroin laced with a synthetic drug by the name of Carfentanil. It is intended as a general anesthetic for large animals including rhinoceroses and elephants.

The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction states that Carfentanil has “a potency at least 80 times that of morphine” and that “a significant number of deaths have been reported in the EU and USA following the ingestion of illicitly synthesized or ‘designer’ fentanyls.”

Carfentanil-laced heroin reached Florida, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Ohio, and one kilogram was recently seized by Canadian border officials. With this growing reach, the drug has begun to make headlines and generate widespread anxiety.

Seeing these headlines and the panic they have caused raises the question: can this drug directly affect UAHS students? Although the answer cannot be certain, a reoccurring trend of sensationalism seems to occur with the introduction of a new synthetic drug.

In October 2013, the drug Desomorphine, better known as Krokodil, appeared for the first time in the United States in Richmond Heights, Missouri. This drug started in Siberia and the Russian Far East and is known to destroy the tissue around the injection site and cause it to become scaly, similar to a crocodile. As graphic as that may be, news sources around the United States picked it up quickly. The New York Times referred to it as “the world’s deadliest drug.”

Krokodil was very much at large in Russia; however, only two legitimate cases were reported in the United States, and many cases that came out were proven to not actually be Krokodil.

Similar to Bath Salts in 2012 and Flokka in 2015, the media coverage of new synthetic drugs seems to increase with the more gruesome or shocking qualities. However, it is important to keep in mind that the widespread use that is often implied may not always be the case.