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Elephant tranquilizer could be latest dangerous synthetic opioid


Yet another type of opioid is gaining popularity here in Connecticut -- so much so that the Department of Public Health has distributed a fact sheet from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to local Connecticut emergency medical services on the drug.

The synthetic opioid, carfentanil, is used by veterinarians to sedate elephants and other large animals. However, it's also being used by people. According to the DEA, it's 100 times stronger than fentanyl and some 10,000 times more potent than morphine. The drug is so strong that, according to the DEA, even medical personnel and first responders could be endangered by touching even tiny amounts of it.

Use of the drug has been reported in the Midwest and closer to us, in Maine. According to Connecticut's chief medical examiner, no overdose deaths in our state have yet been attributed to the drug. However, fentanyl and other types of opioid overdoses have been a serious issue here in Connecticut and throughout New England in recent years. A DEA spokesman says, "We continue to monitor this threat in order to stay ahead of it, in hopes we do not encounter it."

The drug is profitable to dealers because even a very small amount can cause a powerful high. One 24-year-old Maine man is believed to have overdosed on the drug recently. First responders were able to save him. However, it required five doses of Narcan to do so.

There are obvious dangers to using synthetic opioids. It's important to understand that there's no way of knowing precisely what's in these drugs when you use them or what effects they'll have on you. Besides the health dangers, there are also serious legal ramifications of possessing, selling or even giving away illegal substances.

Law enforcement officials and prosecutors take such actions very seriously. If you or a loved one is facing drug charges, it's essential to seek experienced legal guidance.

Source: The Middletown Press, "Connecticut public health department releases fact sheet warning about opioid used as elephant tranquilizer," Esteban L. Hernandez, Oct. 20, 2016