GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — The Guilford County Solution to the Opioid Problem (GCSTOP} is warning of the potential presence of Carfentanil in the community, a synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than fentanyl.
“Folks in the community had told us they felt like they had seen some Carfentanil, some large quantities of it,” said Melissa Floyd Pickard, the Executive Director of GCSTOP, a program through the UNC Greensboro School of Social Work that works to address increases in opioid overdoses and deaths.
Carfentanil is an opioid typically used to tranquilize large animals so the lethal dose range is not exactly known, according to the U.S Department of Justice. However, it is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which can be lethal at the 2- milligram range.
“If Carfentanil is showing up in the community, the odds are that it's being cut into different types of drugs and people won't know that it's in there,” said Floyd-Pickard. “It’s especially dangerous when someone has been away from the drug for a while, like they may be trying to abstain from the drug, coming out of treatment, or coming out of being incarcerated and then they respond to the drug when they return to use as if they were naïve from opioids and that’s what causes people to die.”
According to Floyd-Pickard, fentanyl being put into heroin and other drugs is already causing a problem in the community.
“We are hearing more from EMS, and also from some of our participants, of more overdoses with things that people have no idea have fentanyl in them, like methamphetamines and powder cocaine,” said Floyd-Pickard.
Guilford County EMS said they’ve already seen an increase in opioid overdoses from last year. Greensboro Police said opioid-related overdoses have increased 28%. According to the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, suspected overdose deaths are up 27% in 2021 over 2020.
“Unfortunately we had an opioid epidemic prior to a pandemic and it might have somewhat suppressed the real nature of the urgency of this situation in our community,” said Jim Albright, the executive director of Guilford County EMS, in an interview with News 2 on October 24, 2021.
Not only is Carfentanil more powerful, but it might also take more of the overdose reversal drug Nalaxone to save someone.
“Naloxone still works with Carfentanil,” said Floyd-Pickard, “but it may take multiple doses of it which is another concern because sometimes people might have one dose of naloxone with them.”
The “Save A Life Guilford” campaign through the Guilford County Department of Health aims to get Nalaxone into more hands.
“You never know when you’re going to run across somebody who’s having an overdose,” said Floyd-Pickard.
GCSTOP hosts clinics where you can Nalaxone with no questions asked. You can view those clinics below.