It would seem that we all live in an era where the drugs of our parents’ generation do not hold the same appeal. That is not to say that people no longer use cocaine, marijuana, speed and heroin (especially heroin); but rather, that the environment has changed dramatically and we live in a time when synthetic drugs are seemingly the biggest threat—at least with respect to posterity. Over the last decade, give or take, the media has flooded America with horror story after horror story, centered on synthetic analogs that are literally killing people.
First, it is important to make clear that the greatest problem regarding drug use today is centered around the American opioid addiction epidemic. A crisis of epic proportions that arose from what can only be called reckless overprescribing of prescription opioid painkillers. For nearly two decades both individual states and the Federal government have been reeling to find a way to reign in the scourge of opioid addiction that resulted from prescribing opioids for all things considered painful, whether that be a stubbed toe or back pain.
What started with pills prescribed legally, morphed into an even greater problem when crackdowns made it harder for already addicted Americans to acquire painkillers from a doctor. Such people did what any addict would do, looked to the black market for relief. A marketplace with zero-oversight and few concerns about patient wellbeing. Many pill abusers found that they could save money and actually achieve a greater high by making the switch to heroin. Thinking that prescription painkillers and heroin were both opioids, what’s the difference? The answer to which is, a lot!
Opioid Mystery Bags
Is it true that people die every day from prescription opioid overdoses? Yes. However, many of the overdose deaths today are the result of using heroin, and it isn’t just the heroin that is killing people. But rather what is mixed into the heroin, unbeknownst to users, in order to boost potency. For a number of years now, people have been dying of overdoses on heroin that is mixed with an extremely powerful synthetic opioid narcotic. One that is often resistant to the life-saving effects of the overdose reversal drug naloxone—sold under the brand name Narcan.
You may already have guessed that the synthetic being referred to is fentanyl. A drug commonly used in hospital settings for surgery and traumatic injuries which is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The ingredients to make fentanyl can be acquired with relative ease from Chinese laboratories, and shipped overseas to cartels in Mexico. From there, the drug which causes severe respiratory depression is either stamped into pills disguised as other drugs (i.e. OxyContin) or it is mixed in with batches of heroin. Either way, by the time the fentanyl reaches people with opioid use disorder in the U.S., there is little way of knowing what is being consumed.
To make matters even worse, there are stronger analgesics also finding their way into the hands of American drug addicts, once again without their knowledge of the drugs’ presence. Interestingly, the more powerful drugs are analogs of fentanyl, but were never intended for human use.
Gray Death: A Fentanyl Admixture
In Alabama, Georgia and Ohio there has been a spate of deaths linked to dangerous opioid admixture, fittingly referred to as “Gray Death.” It was given the moniker because it looks like concrete mix, and causes overdose, the Associated Press reports. It is usually a mixture of heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil — an analog of fentanyl 10,000 times more potent than morphine, often used to tranquilize large animals like elephants. Sometimes another obscure synthetic opioid called U-47700, which has been associated with dozens of deaths, is added to the bags.
“Gray death is one of the scariest combinations that I have ever seen in nearly 20 years of forensic chemistry drug analysis,” Deneen Kilcrease, manager of the chemistry section at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
If you are actively abusing opioids, these combinations of drugs should be cause for concern. Around one hundred people die every day in this country just from abusing heroin on its own and prescription opioids. If you add something that includes elephant tranquilizers into the mix, then the stakes suddenly get much higher. If you think that you are buying heroin, there is no way of knowing until it’s too late. If you think that just because a pill has an OC stamped on the side and it is therefore OxyContin, it could in fact be something entirely different.
At 10 Acre Ranch, we strongly encourage you to consider reaching out for help. Entering substance use disorder treatment will end the risk of a fatal overdose and prevent the often slow death of active addiction. We can help you break the cycle and show you how to live a fulfilling life in recovery. Please contact us today.