ISO—A NEW DRUG 20 TIMES DEADLIER THAN FENTANYL
Drugs have been a serious societal problem since the psychedelic era. But since then, they have been getting steadily stronger and deadlier. From LSD in the ’60s, to crack cocaine and ecstasy in the ’70s and ’80s, the potential for addiction has steadily risen. In recent decades, the potency of marijuana has reached alarming proportions. As if that were not bad enough, the past decade has seen the appearance of highly addictive synthetic opioids and most recently fentanyl. Each has been responsible for unparalleled levels of addiction and drug fatalities.
Fentanyl has already taken overdoses to a new level. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a record number of Americans have died from drug overdoses, with fentanyl prominent among them.
Fifty to one hundred times more potent than morphine, fentanyl was originally intended to sedate patients undergoing surgery. Now there is a new drug in town—ISO—that has the potential of sending drug deaths spiraling even more out of control.
New strains of this synthetic opioid have appeared in Washington, DC, that are many times more powerful than fentanyl. Cases have also been reported in Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois, and Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody recently issued a warning about a synthetic opioid called Isotonitazene (ISO) that is 20 to 100 times stronger than fentanyl. As it tends to be mixed with other drugs, users may have no idea they are using a lethal ingredient until it is too late.
ISO was first developed by pharmaceutical companies in the 1950s as a painkiller. Its use was discontinued due to its many dangerous side effects. The most serious of these is respiratory failure. ISO is found either in crystal form or as a white, off-white or yellow powder, which can be mixed with heroin or cocaine to make a deadly cocktail, or pressed into tablets.
But even that doesn’t tell the whole story. Drug overdose deaths involving psychostimulants such as methamphetamine are increasing in large part because they are being laced with these synthetic opioids.
If ISO turns out to be as bad as experts fear it is, the results of its circulation could be devastating.