Pharmaceutical

‘Gray death’ latest cocktail in U.S. opioid crisis

Opioid abuse Shutterstock 315x210 Gray death latest cocktail in U.S. opioid crisisA new and dangerous drug containing a combination of opioids, called “gray death,” is spreading across the country with overdoses of the medication taking thousands of lives in Alabama, Georgia and Ohio, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The drug is a mixture of several power opioids including heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil (a drug used to tranquilize elephants) and a synthetic opioid called U-47700. It resembles concrete mix and varies in consistency from a fine dust to a hard, chunky powder.

The frightening thing about gray death is that its concentration of ingredients are unknown to those using the drug. Users inject, swallow, smoke or snort it. But because the drug is extremely potent, it can also seep through the skin. Just touching it can lead to overdose and death.

Georgia’s bureau of investigation received reports of 50 overdoses in the state in the past three months linked to gray death. Most of those overdoses were reported in the Atlanta area.

The deadly combination drug is a growing trend of the heroin and opioid epidemic that is sweeping the country. In 2015, there were 33,000 fatal overdoses in the U.S. Gray death only amplifies the problem.

“You don’t know what you’re getting with these things,” said Richie Webber, who runs the Ohio-based treatment organization Fight for Recovery. In 2014, Webber overdosed on fentanyl-laced heroin. It took two doses of naloxone to revive him. It scared him straight and sober.

Webber says a typical new combination turning up on the streets is heroin laced with 3-methylfentanyl, an even more potent version of fentanyl. He warns addicts not to take drugs alone because overdose is likely. “Every time you shoot up you’re literally playing Russian roulette with your life.”

Source: Chicago Tribune