As the opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities throughout the United States, overwhelming nearly every state, including Georgia, another new type of drug is adding to the enormity of the problem.
U-47700, which goes by the street names “pink,” “pinky,” and “U4,” is a strong synthetic opioid that is estimated to be eight times more powerful than the painkiller morphine. Reporter Max Blau from CNN explains that this drug was originally created to be a substitute for morphine, but it was never tested on humans, never received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and, therefore, never became available on the market. Instead, it remained classified as a research chemical.
Although U-47700 was never approved by the FDA and ultimately never distributed by physicians for clinical purposes, manufacturers in the foreign drug market, namely in China, became privy to the chemical composition of the drug and began creating it and selling it on the internet. However, because it is so often formulated in underground laboratories, there are likely to be alterations made to the chemical makeup of the substance, and those alterations can prove to be deadly. Essentially, consumers can never be one hundred percent sure of what they are receiving when their shipment of U-47700 arrives.
There have been various estimates regarding the number of deaths related to U-47700 consumption in the U.S., but NMS Labs, an independent provider that delivers forensic toxicology services, reported that U-47700 has been responsible for more than 80 deaths in the United States within the last nine months.
In addition to its potential lethality, the licit nature of U-47700 is cause for concern among those in the recovery community. Whenever a new drug is introduced, individuals who have a history of addiction may be tempted to experiment with using it. Especially when it is a substance that is considered legal, many people may feel that it is safe to use. In other words, they may believe that they can get high while remaining safe and without breaking the law, making it a temptation that is hard to resist.
Addiction is a disease, and while individuals are fully capable of recovering from their addictive behaviors, the temptation to use is typically something that they will have to battle forever. It is for this reason, among others, that substances like U-47700 must be outlawed.
Georgia Leading the Way by Banning the Drug
Despite the fact that U-47700 has caused dozens of fatalities, it astoundingly remains legal in all but four states. Georgia, however, is one state that has made an effort to bring awareness to the dangers of this drug by making it illegal. As awareness increases, there is hope that other states will follow a similar path and update their legislature to ban this substance as well.
In order to address the detriments that U-47700 and other types of drugs can cause, local treatment centers throughout Georgia, including in Valdosta, must be one step ahead of the community in not only understanding the dangers of these drugs, but also in providing options for care that can help individuals overcome their addictive behaviors once and for all.