What Does Carfentanil Look Like?

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on March 29, 2023

Carfentanil, one of the most potent opioids available, looks similar to cocaine and heroin (pale yellow or white) and can be difficult to detect.

Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid and fentanyl analog (derived from fentanyl) that’s used by veterinarians as a tranquilizer for large animals like elephants. 

Carfentanil looks a lot like cocaine and heroin and works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, increasing dopamine and creating a sedative effect. It’s about 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, making the opioid crisis even more dangerous.

Drug dealers have even been known to mix carfentanil with illicit drugs to make them stronger. When consumed unknowingly, this practice significantly increases the risk of overdose and death.

What carfentanil looks like depends on the form it takes, but it tends to look like a white powder.

What Color Is Carfentanil?

Carfentanil is colorless and odorless when in liquid form. When it’s a powder, it’s usually pale yellow or white in color and can look like grains of salt.

When mixed with heroin, fentanyl, and other prescription drugs, carfentanil is often called “gray death” because of the gray color and its concrete-mix-like texture. It can even be brown or pink on some occasions.

Carfentanil can also be found on blotter paper, as pills, or as a nasal spray. It can be injected, smoked, snorted, or even absorbed into the skin. 

Some of the street names for carfentanil include drop dead, serial killer, 50, gray death, TNT, and China white.

Carfentanil in white powder form
Pale yellow carfentanil

Carfentanil Abuse Potential 

Carfentanil is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This means it has a relatively high potential for abuse that can lead to physical dependence and carfentanil addiction. 

When you struggle with carfentanil abuse for a long period of time, you’re more likely to build up a dependence on the drug. If you try to quit the drug once your body is dependent on it, carfentanil withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur. 

Side Effects Of Carfentanil Abuse

Abusing carfentanil can lead to a number of serious side effects. The more you abuse, the more intense the side effects become.

Some of the most common side effects of carfentanil abuse may include:

  • euphoria
  • sedation
  • dizziness
  • respiratory depression
  • nausea
  • drowsiness
  • restlessness
  • sweating
  • runny nose
  • insomnia
  • difficulty concentrating
  • muscle aches
  • disorientation
  • sedation

Carfentanil Overdose

In 2020, there were 5,017 unintentional opioid drug overdose deaths in Ohio. While carfentanil was not responsible for all of these deaths, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, as well as fentanyl analogs, were a significant cause.

An opioid overdose produces a number of life-threatening effects, and carfentanil overdose symptoms can include:

  • cold, clammy skin
  • weak pulse
  • dizziness
  • lethargy
  • sedation
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • pupil constriction
  • respiratory depression
  • loss of consciousness

If you or a loved one are experiencing a carfentanil overdose, call 911 immediately. Administer naloxone (Narcan) if you have it. Naloxone works by reversing the effects of an opioid overdose.

Ohio Recovery Center

If you or a loved one live with opiate/opioid addiction, we can help. 

At Ohio Recovery Center, we offer a wide-range of addiction treatment options like detox, inpatient drug rehab, medication-assisted treatment, and aftercare support.

To learn more, please call our helpline today.

  1. Department of Justice — Carfentanil: A Dangerous New Factor in the U.S. Opioid Crisis https://www.justice.gov/usao-edky/file/898991/download
  2. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — DEA Issues Carfentanil Warning To Police And Public https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2016/09/22/dea-issues-carfentanil-warning-police-and-public
  3. Just Think Twice — Five Quick Facts: Carfentanil https://www.justthinktwice.gov/article/five-quick-facts-carfentanil#:~:text=Carfentanil%2C%20a%20synthetic%20opioid%2C%20is,could%20be%20cocaine%20or%20heroin.
  4. Ohio Department of Health — Drug Overdose https://odh.ohio.gov/know-our-programs/violence-injury-prevention-program/drug-overdose/

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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