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How to Not Remove Fentanyl From Patches

We get great letters at Heroin Helper. A lot of them are heartbreaking; many simply shatter stereotypes; but every once in a while, we get a letter that contains an idea so brilliant or creative or just downright weird that we feel ashamed of ourselves for not thinking of it first, and afraid for the writer. Such is the case for the following letter.

Dear HEROIN Helper,

As a long term (yet moderated) heroin user, I'm always looking for ways to make my usage more cost effective and less harmful so that my own personal choice(s) do(es) not have to interfere with my "public" life any more than they absolutely must. Your site (and books) have been extremely helpful in this pursuit and so it is to you I turn with this question.

About a year ago I had the privilege [!] of wearing a "Duragesic Transdermal System." This is of course an adhesive patch which is meant to be worn by the patient, and which slowly allows the Fentanyl within to be absorbed by the wearer.

What I really wish to know though is quite simple I suppose; can the Fentanyl within the patch be safely removed (and isolated from the alcohol USP gelled with hydroxyethyl if needs be) from the patch for IV usage? I know Fentanyl parading as "China White" is often responsible for death, but I also know that injectable Fentanyl is made use of in modern medicine. What this suggests to me is that if one has the ability to accurately measure a dose, then it would be safe to use. Given that each patch contains between 2.5 and 10 mg of Fentanyl, and given the extreme strength of Fentanyl as an opioid, it seems to me that if a user could extract said Fentanyl from a "Duragesic Transdermal System," then said user would have a VERY affordable habit, and also lessen the overall frequency of copping--which is of course the most dangerous part of any careful user's routine. All this seems to me that it would allow a user the ability to live very subtly with regards to their drug use.

In closing, I apologize for the anonymity of the letter, but we live in dangerously fascist times. I'm sure you'll understand, and I look forward to reading a response to this letter in the coming issue of HEROIN Helper. Thank you in advance...



Sincerely,
A Conscientious User

Dear Conscientious,

You are to be commended because none of us had even thought of trying to do what you suggest. But you are correct--there is gold in them thare patches. Or poison, because even 2.5 mg of Fentanyl could kill you. The largest ampule of which I am aware contain only 2.5 mg, so you are right that this is a lot of Fentanyl: 100 doses, to be exact.

The truth is that I do not have an answer to your question, but I will look into it. I would think that rinsing the patch in some substance would make the Fentanyl dissolve into the rinse. If it was simply water, that would be the end of it. More likely, whatever you rinsed with would cause the Fentanyl to become Fentanyl-something and the something would then need to be removed. Or that Fentanyl-something might be one of those Fentanyl derivatives that are 1000 times as potent as morphine instead of the usual (paltry) strength of Fentanyl: 100 times as potent as morphine.

Anyone attempting such an extraction would need a GC/MS to test what and how much they were extracting.

I would be lax in my duties if I did not take a moment to point out that Fentanyl (should you have missed it from the discussion above) is a very strong opioid. Note also that Fentanyl has a very short half-life (a half hour as opposed to three hours for morphine), and so is not very helpful to addicts as a way to stop the withdrawal syndrome (unless you have it in patch form, of course).

Sincerely,
Dr. H

Follow-Up


Dear HEROIN Helper,

I saw the article about Fentanyl, etc... I get the patches for pain, but would like to use them other ways also... Please advise... Serious substance... Don't want advice for kids on NGs [news groups]... Thanks in advance...

Leke

Dear Leke,

Thank you for bring this issue back to mind. I discussed this matter with a retired anesthesiologist who used Fentanyl recreationally for a long period of time. He did not have the answer to the question, but he did have some useful information that I will add here. The main thing on his mind was that the Fentanyl in the patches is in a glisserine base and that removing that is the issue. I know that the problem could be solved with alacrity if I had an Uncle Fester work on the problem. (As though there could be more than one!) Unfortunately, I don't, and really, there isn't a chemist I know that I would trust enough. A big issue is that minor chemical changes to Fentanyl can turn its normal 100 times morphine potency into 2000 times morphine potency.

I'm trained as a theoretical physicist, although professionally, I did almost exclusively chemistry. I suspect that if I worked on it, I could come up with a recipe for extracting Fentanyl from patches. But there are various problems. First, I've never come up with a theoretical solution to a chemical problem that didn't require experimental tweaking (maybe because I'm not that good a theoretical chemist, but mostly I just think that's the way it is--theory only takes you so far). I don't have Fentanyl patches to test any theories I developed. But even if I did, the testing would be so dangerous that I don't think I'd be willing to do it.

Second, one of my favorite sayings is "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." If I posted a recipe based only on theory, people would try it regardless of how much I told them it was just theory and how extremely dangerous it was. If someone died as a result, I would certainly be sued for everything I have (mostly debts) and I would certainly be convicted of murder. And to be honest, in that case I would lean little in agreeing with that verdict. (I still think it is wrong that people are held accountable for how other people use the information they provide. And in the end, Uncle Fester may end up in jail because of his drug books. The irony is that he will never be bothered about Home Workshop Explosives or Vest Busters or Silent Death. We live in strange times.)

Third, Fentanyl terrifies me. A milligram is a very small amount and a normal Fentanyl dose is about 1/20 of a milligram. Even with pharmaceuticals, you need to be really careful with the stuff. Did you ever see the movie Drugstore Cowboy? In it, Bob say, "You gotta be careful with this stuff--it'll kill you." He was talking about Dilaudid. Dilaudid is only 1/15 as potent as Fentanyl. I'm sure you see my point. And if you've read my books or looked at the website, you must have noticed that I worry a lot. I'm sick of people dying just because they're trying to have a good time. I suppose that's problem number four: I just don't think the risk-benefit analysis justifies doing it.

The guy who originally wrote, wanted to do this because he wanted to limit the number of times he had to score given that scoring is when an illegal drug user is most likely to be arrested. That's good thinking. But he is a chipper, and his logic is a lot like the logic: "If I had a regular supply of heroin, I wouldn't obsess about it and so I would actually do less." It sounds reasonable, but I've known a number of people who have told me that exact same thing. In each case, when they succeeded in getting that regular supply they increased their use and eventually became addicts.

I guess this is all just my justification for copping out on this question. I don't want to know the answer and if I did, I wouldn't want to pass it around. But if I did have the information and I was sure it was correct and I could be clear and detailed in the problems, I would provide the information to readers of this site. But this is a near impossibility because I don't see myself doing drugs--opioids especially--any time in the near future. But if I do go back to using opioids, I'm sure I'm not going to be doing anything even close to the strength of Fentanyl. Drugs like that really don't seem like recreational substances to me. Like true methamphetamine, I understand that Fentanyl has no rush associated with it (another reason why it is dangerous). And I see both drugs as being practical: meth for people who need to stay awake for a long period of time; Fentanyl for people suffering from incredible pain. Tools, not toys.

But you have to remember that even though I know a whole lot more about Fentanyl than just about anyone you'll ever meet (including most M.D.'s), I am in no way an expert. A lot of my fear may be hysteria--the same kind of fear that I rant about when other people experience it over heroin. Regardless, the facts are that everyone has their limits. I was really pushing mine when I put the heroin purification recipe on the website. Providing an untested recipe to allow my readers (many of whom really trust me) to acquire 10 mg of injectable Fentanyl is past my limits. Way past them.

Sincerely,
Dr. H

© 2002
Last Modified: 21 Jul 10


A Reader Cautions

I read your stories on Fentanyl and the contents of the Duragesic® patches. A relative of mine works for an in-home nursing care program where they administer strong drugs to the patients. When they die, the nurses confiscate these so they don't fall into the "wrong" hands. Needless to say, I have gotten my hands on some pretty heavy stuff over the years: 160 mg OxyContin®, morphine ampuls, and especially Duragesic®.

These patches come in various strengths that have a total Fentanyl content of between 2.5 mg (releasing 25 micro-grams per hour) and 10 mg (releasing 100 micro-grams per hour). In other words, huge amounts. I have cut any number of these open, and ran a q-tip inside to extract some of the fluid. After all the juice inside the patch was gone, I would cut the remaining empty patch into pieces and chew on it with delight.

After about 4 months of doing this with a case of 35 10 mg patches, I was admitted to the hospital with a liver problem. The solution inside Duragesic® caused my liver to nearly explode. My enzymes were over 10,000--unbelievably high. This was not the result of the Fentanyl; it was the result of the other stuff in the patches.

My advice is: don't mess with these patches. Use them as directed unless you are one seriously knowledgeable chemist and know how to extract the Fentanyl from the glycerine and the alcohol. Even then, who would be ballsy enough to test your first draft? Death row inmates?

That's just my two cents. Happy using!

by Yeah Right © 2003
Last Modified: 10 January 2004


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