Quasi-legal drug 15 times stronger than heroin
Emergency physicians should expect an upswing in what on the surface appears to be heroin overdoses , but are actually overdoses tied to acetyl fentanyl, an opiate that is mixed into street drugs marketed as heroin , a new study suggests.
What is frightening about this emerging street drug is that users themselves may not be aware that they are ingesting it. Acetyl fentanyl is an opiate analgesic with no recognized medical use. It is 5 to 15 times stronger than heroin. Users typically inject it intravenously as a direct substitute for heroin or pharmaceutical grade opioids ,though many are unaware that what they are consuming is not plain heroin . A user who injects pure acetyl fentanyl may suffer severe consequences because of its extraordinary potency.
Acetyl fentanyl is not specifically regulated though it qualifies as an analogue of fentanyl (a medical opiate ). Thus, it exists in a legal grey area in that it is considered illicit for human consumption but if a package is labeled “not for human consumption ” the product is technically legal. A large quantity of acetyl fentanyl would potentially be immune to regulation as long as it was titled, labeled and
stored as a product with industrial or non human purposes.
“Clever ” and well informed drug distribution networks will likely take advantage of the legal loophole and profit by replacing or cutting a highly regulated drug with less regulated one .
One of the many downsides of illegal drugs is you just can’t trust your drug dealer. The trend of adulterants being worked into street drugs to make them more potent is dangerous. The significant potential for overdose of acetyl fentanyl necessitates more medical research and policy reform.
The American College of Emergency Physicians , August 18,2014.
Quasi Legal drug
Prevention of Stress Induced Drug Addiction Relapse
In a new study published in the journal “ Neuron” scientists identified key steps in the chain of events that causes stress-related drug addiction relapse .They identified an exact area in the brain where the events take place in rat models and showed that by blocking a step ,they could prevent stress-induced relapse to drug seeking behavior .This brain specific region is called VTA ( Ventral Tegmental Area), which helps to reinforce behaviors related to fulfilling basic needs. The researchers attempted to use a chemical which blocks a specific opiate receptors called “Kappa”. They showed that those rats previously addicted to Cocaine will not relapse to Cocaine use under a variety of stresses if their Kappa receptors are blocked.
It is possible that chemical would be tried in the future in humans as an anti-relapse medication.
Exactly how stress acts in the brain to trigger relapse is a very complicated sequence that is still not fully understood .The brain cells called Neurons communicate with each other by releasing a variety of chemicals called Neuro-transmitters . Some important examples of these neuro-transmitters include Dopamine and GABA . In VTA neurons releasing GABA and Dopamine interact in a very complex manner via the Kappa receptors . Full understanding of these interactions is the key to the development of future medication to help prevent relapse to drug abuse under stress. In fact stress is a common trigger of relapse to drug abuse and the relapse is what makes the drug addiction a chronic & relapsing disease extremely difficult to eradicate. Any help in this process of relapse prevention will have a very significant impact on the prognosis and long term recovery of any drug addiction.
Nicholas M. Graziane, Abigail M. Polter,Lisa A. Briand ,R.Christopher Pierce, Julie A. Kauer .
Kappa Opioid Receptors Regulate Stress –Induced Cocaine Seeking and Synaptic Placticity.
Researcher’s have successful tested their novel anti-cocaine vaccine in primates, bringing them closer to launching human clinical trials.