What You Should Know About “Purple Fentanyl”

What You Should Know About “Purple Fentanyl”

The “purple fentanyl” that is being sold today is not derived from purple poppies.  In fact, it is a synthetic concoction that is causing fatal overdoses across the nation.  It was first linked to overdose deaths in June of 2020 in midwestern states.  By October, it had spread across much of the U.S.  

At Design for Change Recovery, we strive to keep abreast of any newly emerging addictive substances like purple fentanyl.  To meet the constantly changing needs in the field of addiction treatment, we strive to continuously upgrade our treatment protocols to align with current trends. We want to provide the level of care our clients need regardless of the substance they are using.

The following are some facts about purple fentanyl we believe you should know.  

What Is Purple Fentanyl?

The substance gets its purple color when fentanyl, acetaminophen, brorphine, and methamphetamine are combined.  It is a synthetic opioid in powder form similar to fentanyl, thus the name.  

The substance known as brorphine, was first identified in 2018.  According to the DEA:

“Brophine is a potent synthetic opioid recently encountered as both a single substance of abuse and in combination with substances such as heroin and fentanyl.  Brorphine has not been approved for medical use in the United States, and there are no published studies on safety for human use.”

Brorphine is temporarily classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.  It is also known as “purple heroin” and “purple meth” although it may not contain either of those drugs.

Dangers of Brorphine (Purple Fentanyl)

Brorphine is used as an alternative to fentanyl as a recreational drug. The risk of overdose is increased when brorphine is combined with fentanyl, heroin, or meth.

Public health officials issued warnings about the purple substances and health care workers have been alerted to report suspected cases to the Poison Control Center.  

According to NPS Discovery.org, which is a program sponsored by the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE), recommendations for Public Health, Coroners, Medical Examiners, and Clinicians include the following:

  • Test for new synthetic opioids and their biomarkers in suspected overdose cases. 
  • Be aware that ELISA screening for synthetic opioids may not be specific or specialized for the newest generation of compounds.
  • Be aware that the concentration of synthetic opioids in biological specimens can vary and GC-MS sensitivity may not be adequate.
  • Become familiar with the signs and symptoms associated with synthetic opioid use.
  • Naloxone should be administered to reverse critical respiratory depression and repeated naloxone administration may be necessary.

Misuse or deliberate abuse of the substance increases the potential for addiction, overdose, or death.  The drug is a public health concern as it has the potential to cause widespread harm.

Effects of Brorphine

Brorphine creates an intense, euphoric high and is hundreds of times more potent than morphine.  It works similarly to other opioids by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord to block pain signals.  Brorphine also attaches to the reward pathway in the brain to activate dopamine production which leads to a euphoric high.

Common side effects of brorphine may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Euphoria
  • Sedation
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Respiratory depression
  • Decreased libido
  • Itchiness
  • Constipation

Withdrawal symptoms of brorphine can include fatigue, anxiety, irritability, and depression.

Individuals who abuse opioids, heroin, fentanyl, and other synthetic opioids are more likely to abuse brorphine.  Production of the substance is not regulated so the quantity and purity are uncertain, thus increasing the risk of poisoning or overdose.

How Do Dealers Get Drugs Like Brorphine?

According to the Journal of Analytical Toxicology report published in 2021, drugs like brorphine will continue to pop up to replace another drug that was recently scheduled by the DEA. It’s not unusual for a drug to lose its appeal after becoming a controlled substance.  But, not to be outwitted, determined dealers simply find a replacement.  Here’s how they do it:

“Ingenious clandestine drug manufacturers carefully comb through early research papers and pharmaceutical patents that contain opioid drugs which, at some point in history, have been evaluated for their potential as analgesics. Very often, the development of these new opioids was eventually halted as side effects and/or adverse reactions became apparent, offering little (if any) advantage over the analgesic ‘gold standard’ set by morphine. These novel drugs (or closely related analogues) are now pirated from published works, synthesized clandestinely or industrially, and sold online or on the street in varying manners. Some new opioids are sold authentically, some are misrepresented as other drugs and some vendors will add samples of other opioids as so-called test purchases or free additions to illicit online drug orders. Ultimately, in some cases, these ‘new’ synthetic opioids end up in the street opioid supply.”

Typically, recreational opioid use involves prescription opioids and heroin.  But, in recent years, the prevalence of new designer drugs continues to expand.  Synthetic opioids such as brorphine are now a fast-growing, highly profitable  market. 

Brorphine is Contributing to a Multifaceted Opioid Crisis

Substances such as brorphine contribute significantly to the growing complexities of a multi-faceted global opioid crisis. Non-medical use of opioids is a key characteristic of the crisis.  The number of non-fentanyl-related synthetic opioids has increased steadily in the last decade and brorphine is one of the most recently detected substances in that class.  

Brorphine has also been detected in many fake opioid medicines. This suggests that many people are unknowingly using the substance. Drug traffickers tout brorphine as a replacement for fentanyl, which is highly misleading and dangerous. 

As with other opioids, brorphine can be deadly when combined with other substances such as alcohol, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, or cocaine.  

Treatment for Brorphine Addiction at Design for Change Recovery

As a synthetic opioid, brorphine abuse can result in an addiction that requires professional treatment to achieve lasting recovery.   Like other addictions, brorphine addiction is a complex disorder that encompasses physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual factors.  The recovery process takes into account each of the contributing factors to heal the whole person.

Design for Change Recovery, located in beautiful Lancaster, CA, offers an evidence-based, customized approach to treatment that adapts to each client’s unique needs.  Our program includes various methodologies that help clients gain the skills, confidence, and motivation to remain drug-free for the long term.

Some of the therapy options we offer include, but are not limited to:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Group and Individual Counseling
  • Biosound Therapy
  • Holistic Therapy
  • Psychodrama Therapy
  • Family Therapy

We also offer intervention services, on-site detox, and extended care services.  Program types include outpatient or inpatient treatment and we work with many top insurance providers to help clients get affordable treatment.

Not only do we pay attention to the effectiveness of our program, we care about our clients’ comfort.  We provide a comforting environment in a well-appointed facility where clients can relax and focus on their recovery.

Our compassionate, skilled staff dedicate themselves to providing the respect, encouragement, and guidance our clients deserve.  We believe overcoming addiction is about more than simply stopping drug use.  It’s about regaining self-respect and reawakening one’s innate abilities that were hindered by substance abuse.

Contact Design for Change Recovery for more information about our licensed, JCAHO accredited addiction treatment programs.  We will conduct a confidential assessment and recommend a treatment plan that is best for your unique situation.  

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