Fatal heroin overdoses are spiking in cities across the nation, but there’s a lot more to this story than meets the eye.
Hundreds of unsuspecting users are purchasing a deadly new variant of heroin – one that’s laced with fentanyl, an opiate 100 times more powerful than morphine. The dangerous concoction continues to work its way from town to town, leaving a trail of death and broken lives in its wake.
A National Epidemic
Toxic heroin is suspected in more than 100 deaths in 2014. Maryland has seen more than 37 laced heroin deaths, while Delaware has tallied six fatal overdoses this year alone. In Rhode Island, heroin containing fentanyl has killed 25 people. Other states reporting deaths related to fentanyl include Vermont and New Jersey.
Pennsylvania has been hit particularly hard. Last year, the city saw over 50 deaths caused by killer heroin. So far, 2014 isn’t shaping up to be much better; at least 28 people suffered fatal overdoses between March 3 and April 20.
What is Fentanyl?
Discovered in 1959, fentanyl is a highly-addictive synthetic alternative to morphine and used to treat pain in the terminally ill. In the 1980s, a few underground chemists altered the chemical makeup of fentanyl. What they came up with was a highly toxic and potentially lethal product nicknamed “China White.”
Mixing fentanyl with heroin amplifies the potency of both drugs. Once injected, smoked, or snorted, the killer heroin creates a frighteningly powerful high. Since heroin and fentanyl both have depressant effects, users feel exaggerated drowsiness, nausea, confusion, sedation and, in extreme instances, unconsciousness, respiratory depression, and death.
According to published reports, most users don’t know their heroin is laced with fentanyl. Lucky victims make it to an emergency room, where the antidote naloxone is immediately administered.
For drug dealers, the heroin’s bad reputation serves as a form of advertising. They even get a boost in business after a string of fatal overdoses, attracting addicts who can never get high enough. They immediately want to try it; some don’t live to regret it.
How to Identify Laced Drinks
While it’s almost impossible to identify the additives or potentially dangerous substances in heroin, spotting powdered fentanyl is surprisingly simple – if you know what to look for.
According to authorities, the easiest way to spot the lethal heroin cocktail is by its color. Heroin generally has a yellow tint to it, while fentanyl powder is bright white.
Frightening Facts About this Lethal Combination
- Death can occur within minutes after injecting killer heroin.
- A 30-year old woman was discovered on the bathroom floor in the fetal position, dead with a needle still in her arm.
- Multiple overdoses are commonly seen in a 24-hour period.
- Killer heroin is being sold under the names “Theraflu,” ”Bud Ice,” and ”Income Tax.”
- In 2008, Jaime Castellar gets six years in federal prison for his role in a drug ring that laced heroin with fentanyl.
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