Your life has taken a different direction than you ever thought it would. It all started when your mom died of cancer just a few years ago. In your grief, you just wanted the pain to end. When you cleaned out her medicine cabinet, you found the leftover pain pills, and before you knew it you were finally numb to your grief. But soon, the pills ran out and you had to find another way to stay out of your head.
Turning to the streets, you found your solace in heroin, fentanyl, and any other opioid you could get your hands on. Dealing with your emotions has never been your strong suit, and hiding behind the euphoria of these substances has gotten you through these hard times. You are out getting a new batch from your dealer, and he tells you he got something extra strong called a Frankenstein opioid. After purchasing your normal amount, you head home to see just how strong he was talking about. Immediately, you feel like you are on another planet, drifting through space and time without a care in the world. The last thing you remember is collapsing on your couch, and everything fades to black.
In Tennessee, Aegis Sciences Corporations performed a test on fentanyl samples and found that 70% also contained a form of Frankenstein opioid. This is especially dangerous as these opioids can be even more potent than fentanyl. At ReVIDA® Recovery, seeing these numbers in our backyard is scary. If you are ready for treatment today, our team is ready with same-day appointments available. We are here to provide resources and tools within our Appalachian communities and bring education on the latest news in the substance world. Today, we are discussing what Frankenstein opioids are, and everything you need to know to keep yourself safe.
Table of Contents
What Are Nitazines?
Nitazines are a form of synthetic opioid. They got the street name “Frankenstein opioid” from the sedation effects they cause. They were developed as a pain management medication but have never been approved in the United States, making them a Schedule I controlled substance. This is because the nitazine analogs are equal to and more powerful than fentanyl. Gaining popularity in recent years, nitazines are turning up in more fatal overdose cases throughout the country.
Understanding The Potency of Frankenstein Opioids
Potency refers to the strength of a medication. When referring to opioids and opiates, potency is often compared to one another. The difference between opioids and opiates is that opiates typically are derived straight from the poppy plant. Opioids are synthesized in lab settings and usually do not come from plants (a select few are partially derived using the poppy plant). Because opioids involve more chemicals, they have a stronger potency. In the Frankenstein opioid, isotonitazene, protonitazene, and etonitazene are the most potent nitazine analogs, and can be 2 to 40 times stronger than fentanyl. When the Frankenstein opioid is mixed with heroin or fentanyl, the risk of an overdose increases exponentially.
The Origins of Frankenstein Opioids
Nitazines were first synthesized in the 1950s, in hopes of providing another option for pain management. It was quickly realized that the Frankenstein opioid caused toxic level side effects of respiratory depression and sedation. However, illegal laboratories in China have been synthesizing nitazines and now they’re circulating throughout the United States. They are cheaper to make than heroin and fentanyl, making them a popular choice for cutting other substances.
How Is a Frankenstein Opioid Made?
Nitazine is 2-benzyl benzimidazole, a synthetic opioid with a unique structure not comparable to other opioids such as fentanyl or morphine. Using uncontrolled precursors, 2-benzyl benzimidazole can be converted to nitazine in a few short steps. Scientists and unregulated laboratories can synthesize the Frankenstein opioid with ease and pass it along for smuggling.
Nitazine is usually a brown, off-white, or yellow powder but also comes in a liquid form. It is often mixed with other opioids or illicit substances, and the powder can be pressed into pills without knowledge and marketed as prescription opioids.
The Health Risk of Frankenstein Opioids
Frankenstein opioids come with a slew of different health risks, and can cause permanent damage to the brain and body. Some common side effects of nitazine use include:
- Digestive problems such as constipation
- Slowed Breathing
Similar to how other opioids affect the brain, nitazine binds to the opioid receptors and creates a rush of pleasure when first ingested. After the initial euphoria wears off, drowsiness and lethargy set in. Falling in and out of consciousness is common during this time. Prolonged use can cause heart, lung, and digestive complications.
The Overdose Occurrences of Frankenstein Opioids
We are all familiar with the opioid crisis in Appalachia. The Frankenstein opioid has been rattling the lives of Tennessee residents just as much as fentanyl and prescription pills. In 2021, 42 reported overdose deaths were nitazine-related in Tennessee. Most of these occurred in Knox County, however; this is due to blood samples being sent to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for secondary testing. Therefore, it is likely there have been more involvement of Frankenstein opioids in fatal overdose situations, but they are underreported.
With the potency of nitazine being so much stronger than fentanyl, overdose occurrences are far more likely. Opioids work by suppressing the central nervous system, which controls breathing, heart rate, and body temperature regulation. When breathing slows, it can stop completely, leading to brain and organ damage. This is what happens during an overdose.
Narcan® (naloxone) can be given to reverse an opioid overdose by counteracting the effects of the substances. With the potency of Frankenstein opioids, multiple doses of Narcan® (naloxone) are often needed to reverse their effects, with an average of four being reported. If an overdose is suspected, seek medical attention immediately even if Narcan® (naloxone) has already been administered.
Are Frankenstein Opioids Legal in the U.S.A.?
As with many synthetic opioids, Frankenstein opioids are illegal in the United States. Almost all nitazine currently found in the U.S.A. is smuggled from China. After the initial development of Frankenstein opioids in the 1950s, research was unable to continue due to the high toxicity produced by the substances. In 2019, seizures of nitazine began to see a rise, with 2,400 taking place by the DEA. As a Schedule I controlled substance, this means that nitazine has no medical relevance or purpose.
How Do Drug Dealers Market Frankenstein Opioids?
When it comes to cutting, drug dealers are not required to tell you anything about what is in the substance. Dealers are all about making money, and if they can extend their product while making it stronger, they are going to increase their profit margins. Frankenstein opioids are undetectable to the naked eye, and there is no test strip to detect them, either. If you know nitazine has made an appearance in your area, take extra caution if you choose to use illicit substances.
Getting Treatment for Synthetic Opioids
When it comes to synthetic opioids, potency is a big factor that is not talked about enough. With the stresses of life, it’s understandable to just want to wind down and feel good. The substance market is always evolving, and dangerous compounds like nitazine are creating more harmful consequences attached to opioid use disorder. Asking for help is no small feat, but seeking treatment can help you rediscover your passions and reclaim your life.
At ReVIDA® Recovery, we believe in helping all of our patients reclaim their lives from opioid use disorder. Our treatment options include medication-assisted treatment, as well as flexible programming to fit your needs and schedule. With multiple locations throughout Appalachia, we work within our communities and provide resources for our patients in recovery. Call us today at 423-631-0432 to learn more about how we can help you today.
Do all poppy flowers have opioids?
All poppy flowers do have some amount of narcotic in them. The most potent is the opium poppy.
What is the name of the opioid drug in the Sackler family?
The Sackler family owned Purdue Pharma, and was one of the initial producers of OxyContin® (oxycodone hydrochloride).