New street drug 10,000 times more potent than morphine
Whispers of a new street drug have finally made headlines. The name is W-18, and it gives users a high similar to heroin. W-18 is a synthetic opiate, a drug often used as a sedative that helps reduce pain and induce sleep. The one glaring difference between W-18 and other synthetic opiates is that it is 10,000 times more potent than morphine.
Fentantyl, the most similar drug currently on the streets, is responsible for the deaths of 158 New Hampshire residents in 2015. The numbers are even higher in Massachusetts — between October 2014 and 2015, a total of 336 resident died due to Fentantyl overdose. Law enforcement worry that usage of W-18 will produce a similar number of deaths or even higher, if it hasn’t already.
Currently, the new street drug doesn’t have any ways to be detected within urine or blood samples. Law enforcement officials worry that undetectable drugs like this won’t be able to be studied to give us a better understanding of the impact on users’ systems, especially if W-18 is being cut with other drugs.
Where would a product like this even come from? University of Alberta researchers created W-18 in the 1980’s; originally intended as a painkiller, the drug was the most powerful of 32 created strains. W-18 itself was never actually tested on humans.
Mike Tucker, a spokesman for ALERT — an elite policing squad based in Alberta, Canada, had some input onto why perhaps we haven’t heard of W-18 until just now. “In hindsight, it’s always crystal clear, right? But at the time, this was simply seized as an unknown substance. It was actually suspected as being some form of methamphetamine,” Tucker said. The drug can be easily mistaken as crystal meth.
The United States and Canada have a controlled substances list, however W-18 isn’t on either country’s list. This means that the only way to purchase this drug is from wholesale websites that are based in China and then delivered via snail mail. This fact alone proves how easy it is to obtain this illicit street drug.
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