Attention heroin users: Heroin is no longer heroin.
Heroin is being laced with fentanyl and is sold as pure heroin, which has caused an overdose and fatal epidemic nationwide. Drug dealers have been lacing their drugs for years in order to sell more product, but the deadly combination that is fentanyl-laced heroin has completely swept the nation.
With the opiate crisis growing across the United States, a new product that is fooling addicts into believing fentanyl-laced heroin is their drug of choice is killing an insurmountable number of people.
With fentanyl being the cause of death of world famous icon Prince and thousands of others nationwide, it seems to beg a series of questions: What is fentanyl? Why have overdoses on fatal fentanyl-laced heroin been the cause of a modern day death pandemic? And why do people keep going back for more?
What is fentanyl?
Fentanyl, pharmaceutically known as Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze, is an opioid used by regional drug dealers to make their heroin more compelling; its potency being 30 to 50 times more than heroin and 80 to 100 times more than morphine. Fentanyl-laced heroin goes by many street names:
- Murder 8
- Dance Fever
- China Girl
- China White
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, fentanyl works by binding to the opioid receptors in the area of the brain that controls pain and emotions. When fentanyl binds to these receptors it activates the release of dopamine causing a state of relaxation and euphoria. Street fentanyl can be snorted, smoked or used intravenously, just like heroin.
Used as an anesthetic for cancer patients or end-of-life treatment, fentanyl is usually sold as lozenges or patches, distributed to patients in micrograms rather than milligrams.
Moreover, if the dealer does not cut this drug enough when producing fentanyl-laced heroin, it can kill thousands of people as it already has.
The effects of fentanyl are the same as heroin:
- Respiratory depression
- Difficulty urinating
- Feeling cold
- Dry mouth
- Stomach ailments (e.g. constipation, vomiting, nausea)
- Unconsciousness, coma, and death
Why is fentanyl in heroin?
Smuggled fentanyl is cheaper for the drug dealer to cut their heroin with and thus leads to dealers selling more bags of heroin because their product is cheaper. Not only is the product more potent, but fentanyl-laced heroin costs a lot less than your everyday bag.
For heroin addicts, this is a dream come true: more buy for their buck.
This trend has taken over the drug-dealing world so much so that fentanyl-laced heroin is what is mostly sold, and it has become much harder to find pure heroin. However, dealers are not notifying their customers that their heroin is not actually pure heroin. Due to this fact, users are injecting their usual amount of dope when they should be injecting less since the potency is higher than the average heroin bag.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), cartels have released fentanyl-laced heroin as a means of distributing a more cost-effective product.
“A kilogram of heroin may in fact return a profit of about $80,000,” said special DEA agent Craig Wiles on National Public Radio (NPR). “A kilogram of Fentanyl may in fact return a profit of $1 million.”
According to the New York Times, the presence of fentanyl-laced heroin deaths is rushing to levels that have not been seen since 2006. In that year, a streak of overdoses was connected to a Mexican lab that was eventually shut down.
Now, fentanyl is being purchased from China via the black market at a low cost. Fentanyl is then smuggled into the United States via Mexico. In fact, the raw fentanyl powder can be disguised as other painkillers due to its universal look.
Due to the newness of fentanyl-laced heroin abuse, there is a lack of hard data to show the cartel’s involvement in the fentanyl epidemic. With states like California, Massachusetts and New Hampshire rising to alarmingly high levels of fentanyl-related overdose deaths, this is definitely an issue that needs to be further investigated.
Why do users keep going back?
In 2014, at least 28,000 people have died from opioid overdoses—the highest in US history—with fentanyl-laced heroin being the cause of 79 percent of that number. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigators, fentanyl is killing more people than heroin in many parts of the country and it is likely to keep growing.
The numerous fentanyl-laced heroin overdoses and fatalities is not even the half of it since the statistic for deaths by fentanyl overdoses in 2015 has not even been fully calculated yet.
That being said, why are more and more heroin users, and the addicts who know their heroin is laced with fentanyl, continue to run back to their dealer in the face of this increase in fatal overdoses?
The obvious answer would be that they are addicts and that they feel as though they can never have enough in the midst of their obsession and compulsion of buying and using opioids. However, there is something else: fentanyl-laced heroin’s lethal reputation charms a heroin addict.
“If there’s a dope out there that’s killing people, everybody wants it. I want that,” said an unidentified man on NPR. “That’s killer dope. That’s the strongest out there.”
Fatalities or not, drug dealers will continue to sell fentanyl-laced heroin because, at the end of the day, customers dying does not result in lost clientele. On the contrary, heroin user overdoses and fatalities equate to a killer reputation for some killer dope—sinful marketing genius.
In fact, according to “Death by Fentanyl,” a documentary on Fusion, a dealer claims that if he does not lace his heroin with fentanyl, he will lose customers.
An epidemic sweeping the nation
“I did the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life; I did CPR on my own son,” said Sandra Gallion on October 29, 2015 in the Baltimore Sun. “My husband did CPR on his own son and my 20-year-old daughter did CPR on her brother.”
Despite his family’s efforts, 24-year-old Nolan Gallion lll died of a fentanyl-heroin overdose. Gallion lll joined the Level Volunteer Fire Company at 16 and strived to be a firefighter, becoming addicted to pain medication in 2010 after an auto-accident injury. His addiction to prescription meds was followed by his use of heroin.
This is a common series of events for opioid addicts to follow, and unfortunately it is leading many to the grips of fentanyl-laced heroin.
In this year alone, 36 people in Sacramento, California overdosed from fentanyl-laced heroin and nine of those died, according to the LA Times. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, heroin deaths have jumped 100 percent in Miami-Dade County, 210 percent in Broward County, and 425 percent in Palm Beach County. In Cleveland, Ohio, death investigators are overloaded with the overdose deaths rising to a historic level, which is not even the entirety of fentanyl overdoses and fatalities in the United States.
New Haven, Connecticut is one of the many towns that has announced a public health emergency in the face of the rising numbers of fentanyl-laced heroin deaths. This town experienced 16 overdoses within six hours on June 23, 2016– two people died.
Fentanyl overdose warning signs
If you or a loved one is using heroin or is knowingly or unknowingly using fentanyl-laced heroin or fentanyl itself, here is a list of signs and symptoms of an overdose that, if recognized, could possibly save a life:
- Shallow breath or no breath
- Floppy arms and legs
- Blue lips and fingertips
- A lack of a response to stimulus
- Unresponsiveness (cannot be woken up)
Are you addicted to Heroin? Here’s Help
Heroin addiction is a very tough habit to kick. Here at Recovery Hub we understand that heroin and/or fentanyl addiction is not a pastime, it is a full time job. Our specialists are available 24-7, and are waiting to help you break the habit to start a new way of life.
If you, or a loved one, has a heroin and/or fentanyl problem, please call us for a free consultation today at (844) 318-7500.