DEA Warns of Carfentanil Risks Amid Rising Overdoses; Novus Medical Detox Underscores Need for Intervention

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Mounting opioid overdoses and fatalities have prompted the DEA to issue a public warning against carfentanil. Novus Medical Detox Center emphasizes the immediate need for intervention, detox and treatment to prevent further deaths.

Kent Runyon, Compliance Officer and Vice President of Community Relations for Novus Medical Detox Center, expresses urgency for intervention and treatment.

Prescription painkillers have led many patients to develop an opioid use disorder, and some of them subsequently transition to heroin for a cheaper and more readily available high.

Heroin laced with carfentanil has been linked to a growing number of overdoses and deaths in multiple states since mid-July,(1) leading the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to issue a public warning about the health and safety risks associated with the powerful synthetic opioid.(2) Novus Medical Detox Center, a leading Florida-based drug treatment facility, sees a critical need for intervention among heroin users and urges them to seek treatment before they encounter a potentially deadly dose of carfentanil-laced drugs.

Health officials believe carfentanil is behind hundreds of overdoses and dozens of deaths in recent weeks, including an “unprecedented” 174 overdose hospitalizations in Cincinnati over a six-day period in August.(1) Carfentanil is a Schedule II substance that is used to tranquilize elephants and other large mammals; it is not approved for human use. According to the DEA, carfentanil is “10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which itself is 50 times more potent than heroin.”(2)

While the DEA says the exact lethal dose range for carfentanil in humans is currently unknown,(2) The Washington Post reported that “a single grain of it is enough to kill a person.”(1) The DEA notes that carfentanil and other fentanyl-related compounds may be found in several forms—including powder, blotter paper, tablet and spray—and can pose a serious danger to first responders, medical staff, lab personnel and others if accidentally inhaled or absorbed through the skin.(2)

“Prescription painkillers have led many patients to develop an opioid use disorder, and some of them subsequently transition to heroin for a cheaper and more readily available high,” explained Kent Runyon, Compliance Officer and Vice President of Community Relations for Novus Medical Detox Center. “For years, opioid-related overdoses and deaths have continued to rise; and the recent outbreak of carfentanil-laced heroin poses even deadlier risks. There is a dire need for expanded access to overdose-reversing medications and drug treatment programs to stem the growing fatalities.”

Runyon notes that many opioid users may be unaware of the current danger, believing themselves to be “safe” because they don’t exceed a certain dosage or because they are not injecting the drug. However, he points out that there is no way of knowing what other substances street drugs may be cut with, and just a small amount of carfentanil can lead to overdose and even death within a matter of minutes.

One such case made headlines when an Ohio couple allegedly overdosed on what is believed to have been carfentanil-laced heroin while driving with a 4-year-old child belted in a car seat in the back of their vehicle. A widely circulated photograph showed the pair unconscious in the front seats before emergency responders revived them with the overdose-reversing drug Narcan.(1) Runyon says the photo serves as a graphic reminder of the potential consequences of opioid addiction and dependency.

“Opioid use disorder is a chronic illness that can befall people from all walks of life,” stated Runyon. “Those who attempt to quit ‘cold turkey’ often find the withdrawal symptoms to be painful or even debilitating, leaving them locked in a cycle of drug dependency they feel they can’t escape. That’s why intervention is critical. With professional care and ongoing support, those struggling with substance use disorders have a far better chance of achieving successful long-term recovery.”

Novus offers medically supervised opioid and heroin detox programs that minimize the discomfort of withdrawal. The Florida drug detox facility develops an individually customized treatment plan for each patient based on proven medical protocols, including 24-hour access to nursing care and withdrawal specialists. Novus is renowned for its success in treating high-dose methadone cases, and is proficient in detoxing patients from heroin and other high-dose opioids just as comfortably, safely and effectively.

For more information on Novus Medical Detox Center and its opioid and heroin detox programs, visit

About Novus Medical Detox Center:
Novus Medical Detox Center has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation as an inpatient medical detox facility. Licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, Novus provides safe, effective alcohol and drug treatment programs that are based on proven medical protocols and designed to minimize the discomfort of withdrawal. The facility is located on 3.25 acres in New Port Richey, Florida, in a tranquil, spa-like setting bordering protected conservation land. Intent on proving that detox doesn’t have to be painful or degrading, Novus set out to transform the industry by bringing humanity into medical detox with individually customized treatment programs and 24/7 access to nursing care and withdrawal specialists. Today, Novus is renowned as a champion of industry standardization and a staunch advocate of patients fighting to overcome substance use disorders. Frequently recognized for its contributions to the industry and local community, Novus has become a regular source to media publications such as The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and has ranked in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Fast 50, the Florida Business Journal’s Top 500 and the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. For more information on Novus’ medically supervised detox programs, visit

1.    Hawkins, Derek. “As Overdoses Surge, Two Accused of Selling Deadly Heroin Laced With Elephant Tranquilizer”; The Washington Post; September 23, 2016.

2.    U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. “DEA Issues Carfentanil Warning to Police and Public”; press release issued September 22, 2016.

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Karla Jo Helms
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