Green W-18 pills and powder spread over a mirror

Overdose Waiting to Happen

A new drug on the streets, W-18 has been called “an overdose waiting to happen.” This powerful synthetic opioid considered up to 10,000 time stronger than morphine and 100 times stronger than Fentanyl, a powerful painkiller.

Synthetic opioid drugs are man-made copies of naturally occurring painkiller drugs, such as heroin, a drug which is made from a strain of the poppy plant.

The euphoria all opioids produce is the main draw but these drugs are also highly addictive, quickly producing tolerance and dependency, and ugly withdrawal symptoms when a long term user suddenly stops taking them.

W-18 made in Canada

W-18 comes from a “W-series” of opioid compounds first invented at the University of Alberta as part of a spectrum of experimental painkillers in the 1980s. It was never adopted as a clinical drug and never tested on humans which means it can legally be sent through mail.

W-18 is one of the most dangerous drugs in a whole spectrum of synthetics, or analogs which often mimic the chemical structure of traditional street drugs — save for a compound or two — and that lets them slip through the cracks in laws. Some opportunists actively look for new potential recreational drugs by going through old patents and looking for old opioids to see how easy they are to synthesize.

Rediscovered in 2013, W-18 was marketed as a designer drug as a legal substitute for other recreational drugs.

Too Easy to Get

Like Fentanyl, W-18 is now mass-produced in China in what are essentially homemade labs and is often used to extend batches of more common drugs like heroin or counterfeit OxyContin.

That means the actual amount of drugs within the tablets can vary and with no consistency, poses an even greater risk of overdose for those taking pills marketed as Fentanyl or fake OxyContin. Just a tiny speck of W-18 can cause respiratory depression and kill someone. It’s just too potent to even consider using.

These opioids are often sold online and a majority of these drugs are now coming through ports like those in BC, Canada.

When it comes to prescription opioid consumption, Canada leads all nations in the world, with the U.S. coming in as a close number two. Canada is now at crisis levels of opioid addiction, overdoses and death.