Carfentanil is a synthetic analog of the opioid analgesic Fentanyl and is commercially used as  a sedative for large animals such as elephants.  Like Fentanyl the drug has similar effects and is 10,000 times stronger than morphine, making it one of the most deadly opioid analgesics ever produced.  


Carfentanil was first synthesized in the early 1970’s by a group of chemists at Janssen Pharmaceutica, founded by Paul Janssen in 1956.  It enjoys its use today primarily as a anesthetizing agent used to sedate large animals and marketed under the trade name of Wildnil.  

It’s first uses among the general population began out of Estonia in the early 2000’s and spread into surrounding areas of Europe and former Soviet Union.  The drug has since seen a widespread increase into the United States and large scale manufacturing out of China to be imported overseas and domestically.


The effects of Carfentanil have the same impact as those of Fentanyl.  Some of the adverse side-effects of the drugs are as follows:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Death

Present Day

Carfentanil and its various analogs and derivatives continue to emerge as the most dangerous new threat in the never ending battle on drugs.  New forms of heroin laced with carfentanil and fentanyl have been springing up in Florida, Indiana, West Virginia and Ohio with numerous overdoses and deaths as a result.  

Furthermore the potency of these synthetic opioid analogs are so strong that merely handling the residue left behind an empty plastic bag once containing the narcotics is enough to precipitate a full blown overdose.  Its use has even seen applications for chemical warfare as a weaponized aerosol spray.  The Moscow theater hostage crisis, in 2002, is an example of the use of carfentanil for chemical warfare.

Carfentanil is currently classified by the U.S. as a Schedule II controlled substance. Its annual aggregate manufacturing quota is capped at 19 grams, approved for commercial use only.

Silent Killer

The most recent overdoses popping up all over the country have been attributed to heroin laced with fentanyl and carfentanil, and this signals an overall troubling trend unlikely to dissipate in years to come.  The use of Naloxone (Narcan), which acts as an opioid antidote in the event of an overdose has encountered resistance when trying to treat patients suffering from acute symptoms of a carfentanil overdose due to its potency.  Authorities have indicated that as much as 5x the amount of Naloxone was needed in some cases to resuscitate the victim.  

Together these statistics paint a grim picture of the times to come in the opioid and opiate markets.  More people than ever are turning to these drugs to cope with the adversity and hardship of living in today’s society.  The need for recovery and detox solutions to treat these unfortunate casualties of the war on drugs is absolutely essential.  Rehabilitation coupled with behavior modification techniques provides fertile ground for the user to achieve a drug-free and successful life outside of recovery.  There is always a chance to get better!


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