Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse than fentanyl…
The street-drug market has a new player – and it’s even deadlier than previous killers. W-18 won’t deliver a great high; it will, however, deliver death.
Here are the scary facts on this synthetic drug:
- Not for Human Use: The drug is a synthetic opioid with no known clinical use. A team of Canadian scientists designed the drug back in the 80’s as part of a series of experimental painkillers, but did no testing on humans. This means its potential negative effects on humans are mostly unknown – W-18 was only ever tested on lab mice.
- Deadly Potency: W-18 is 100 times stronger than fentanyl. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine. This makes W-18 10,000 times stronger than classic opiates.
- Contact Kill: “You only need a tiny speck of W-18, which can cause respiratory depression and can kill you,” reports Dr. Alan Hudson, Associate Professor with the department of pharmacology at the University of Alberta. Dr. Laura Calhoun, medical director at Alberta Health Services, notes, “If any package were to be damaged, anyone coming into contact would face being overdosed with this drug immediately and would need immediate medical attention.”
- Fatal Symptoms: The symptoms of W-18 exposure include feeling sleepy, trouble breathing, clammy skin, and unresponsiveness. You can die from either poisoning or respiratory arrest.
- Hidden Poison: Dealers are selling fentanyl pills that actually contain W-18, which is 100 times more potent. It can also be cut with cocaine or other drugs in unknown amounts. Pills and powders containing W-18 are created in homemade labs, so the strength of the drug isn’t known until it’s too late. Calhoun points out, “No matter what drug you use, W-18 may be hiding in it, and it may kill you.”
- Source: The drug is manufactured in Chinese labs, mass produced, and sold online.
- Unrestricted: W-18 is not (yet) widespread. Due to its obscurity, it’s not even listed as a controlled substance under U.S. law or “on the DEA’s radar as a drug of concern.”
- No Antidote: Because of its potency, W-18 is likely too strong to respond to naloxone. Currently, there is no research that shows naloxone would help. In fact, the BC Center for Disease Control says, “Due to the strength of W-18 there is little evidence to suggest naloxone would have an effect in treating an overdose.”
- No Trace: It is difficult for doctors to help someone who might be overdosing on W-18, because no tests currently exist to detect the drug in a person’s blood or urine. It’s silent but deadly. First, it hides in other drugs, next it hides in the body, then it kills.
Additional Reading: Who Manufacturers All these Crazy Semi-Legal Designer Drugs?
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