Like the recently famous drug Fentanyl, W-18 is a synthetic opiate. Opiates are analgesic drugs, meaning they create pain relief. Prescription painkillers, morphine, and heroin are all opiate drugs. The human brain has naturally occurring opiate receptors which, when blocked with opiate production, help slow down the heart and reduce pain. Some people are sensitive to opiates and cannot naturally receive the help opiate drugs give them. Synthetic opiates were developed to help such people recovery from traumatic injury, surgery, and cope with chronic pain.
W-18 is derived from Fentanyl which was already reported to be 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Morphine is what the body naturally creates when it ingests anything derived from the opium plant. W-18 is reported to be up to 10,000 times stronger than heroin and other opiate drugs.
Similar to the concerning situation with Fentanyl, W-18 is being discovered as parts of other medications. Bags of heroin, pills, and other form of drugs, are showing up with W-18 in overdose victim’s toxicology reports. W-18 has been discovered in multiple parts of America, Asia, and recently Tasmania.
Most sources believe that W-18 and other synthetic drugs are being manufactured in China, then brought into the United States via Mexico. However, synthetic drugs like Fentanyl and W-18 are also categorized as “designer drugs”. Designer drugs are advertised and sold on social media channels as well as obscure areas of the internet regarded as the “dark web”. Though social media platforms like Instagram do their best to regulate the use of certain images, content, and hashtags, it is almost impossible to keep track of every drug dealer. Making matters worse, drug dealers are advertising W-18 as other kinds of drugs like Xanax, which is a benzodiazepine prescribed to treat anxiety.
As new versions of synthetic opiates are discovered, government officials are hurriedly trying to classify them as Schedule 1 substances. Unfortunately, the problem with synthetic drugs is that the “recipe” is rapidly changing. Specifying each new type of synthetic opiate takes time and it is difficult for enforcement agents to stay ahead of the game.
As with any drug, there is a solution to the problem of addiction. W-18 addiction is rare because the drug is so powerful it commonly causes overdose. Recovery is possible, however. There will likely be a need for detox, and long term intensive treatment.
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