Resembling chunks of concrete, or concrete mixing powder, gray death is a lethal combination of some of the most deadly opioids known to man. Samples have been found to contain the designer opioid drug U-47700 (“Pink”), heroin, fentanyl, and various fentanyl analogues. All of these drugs alone are deadly, together the fatal potential is staggering. Gray death is reported to have a potency 10,000 times greater than morphine.
The State Of Heroin Abuse In America
Heroin has an increasingly changing face in America. Once a drug that many thoughts were reserved for urban minority populations, recent findings suggest that heroin abuse knows no bounds. White suburbia has been largely impacted, with the greatest effects felt in young, male populations.
But with this rising use comes new risks. While heroin, like many street drugs, has always been cut with other materials, the substances within this drug today are game-changers. Though some adulterants are by themselves fairly benign, like cornstarch or milk powder, more and more deadly opioid drugs are being mixed into heroin.
Fentanyl and carfentanil are two extremely potent opioids that have been wreaking havoc across our nation in increasing frequency over the past year. But now there’s a deadly new concoction in town: gray death.
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What Is Gray Death?
In early 2017, an unidentified super drug began surfacing within the South, predominantly in Alabama and Georgia. Ohio and Pennsylvania have also witnessed this drug’s destruction. At the onset of this fatal trend, emergency medical staff and forensic chemists didn’t even know what it was, or what gave it its distinctive gray hue. Hence why Russ Baer, DEA spokesman said that “It’s mad science and the guinea pigs are the American public.”
The thing is, no two samples are guaranteed to be alike. In fact, the chance that two will be different is far higher than those two would be the same. This inconsistency makes gray death a lethal wildcard in the world of drug abuse. But despite this unpredictability, experts do know one thing: gray death is well-deserving of its name.
“These chemicals are all very potent and very deadly in isolation, but in the wrong hands … that’s a fast-track route to the morgue.” These chilling words, reported by CNN, come from someone who knows this world far too well. Donna Iula, director of forensic chemistry at Cayman Chemical is a scientist whose life’s work is focused on identifying unknown street drugs like gray death.
Why Is Gray Death In Heroin?
After reading this, you may wonder why in the world would anyone ever be possessed to add such a lethal drug to their heroin knowingly? The fact is, many people don’t even realize they’re exposed to gray death.
But some people do purposely lace heroin with other stronger drugs (like gray death) to increase the pleasurable effects they seek or to overcome tolerance. An addicted person’s judgment is often impaired. Chronic drug use changes a person’s brain, and as a person becomes addicted, the pursuit of the next fix or high begins to outweigh anything else.
These people may think that “if heroin is a rush, then how could I make it even better?” But the thing is, lacing heroin isn’t making it better, it’s making it more dangerous. In these impaired states, a person may turn to gray death or another synthetic opioid, without understanding the fatal capacity the drugs have.
Drug dealers often cut heroin with other strong opioids to increase the potency and to hook potential buyers faster. But more often than not, users and drug dealers alike don’t even know exactly what they’re putting into their supply, especially when it’s a substance with so many variables like gray death.
Gray Death Drug Overdoses
Like many of its individual components, a minuscule amount of gray death can kill. This amount is so small that a person doesn’t even have to use the drug to overdose or to die. Like fentanyl and carfentanil, gray death can cause almost instant, fatal overdose merely by drug-to-skin contact. It’s reported that it takes up to ten times the amount of Narcan, a life-saving overdose reversal agent, to save someone from a gray death overdose.
Now imagine if touching this drug can do this, what using it by itself or within heroin can do. No matter how you administer gray death-tainted heroin, you’re quite possibly writing your own death sentence. Injecting, snorting, or smoking it all places you in the crosshairs of fatal overdose.
In many cases, users don’t actually seek gray death out. Here, these individuals may prepare a dose of heroin, believing it to only be heroin when in actuality they’re moments away from subjecting their body to the ravages of gray death.
Law enforcement, first responders, and the unsuspecting bystander or loved one can also lose their life at the hand of gray death heroin, simply by touching it or an object that came into contact with it.
How Do I Protect Myself And My Loved Ones From Gray Death Heroin?
First, if you have any reason at all to suspect that you or your loved one’s heroin (or other drugs) is cut with gray death, do not touch it or use it. Also, do not touch any drug paraphernalia, surface, or article of clothing that may have came in contact with it. And more importantly, if you believe that you or someone near to you is in jeopardy of, or actively overdosing, contact emergency medical services immediately.
We understand that many users, and even family members, can be frightened of contacting law enforcement when an illegal drug is involved. This is the most oft-cited reason why people refrain from doing this very thing.
But please know this, making this call could be the difference between spending another day with your loved one and planning their funeral. “The chance of surviving an overdose, like that of surviving a heart attack, depends greatly on how fast one receives medical assistance,” this cautionary statement from the Drug Policy Alliance illustrates the impetus of prompt action.
How Do The Laws Protect Me?
Some counties offer protection to those who turn in heroin and other drugs. One example is in Ohio, which has in many ways been ground zero for synthetic opioid overdoses. Here, a Hamilton County judge passed a law granting immunity to those who turn in these drugs. Additionally, as of June 2017, 40 states plus the District of Columbia have written Good Samaritan Laws or the like into their state’s legislation, reports the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
So what protection do these Good Samaritan Laws provide? “These laws generally provide immunity from arrest, charge or prosecution for certain controlled substance possession and paraphernalia offenses when a person who is either experiencing an opiate-related overdose or observing one calls 911 for assistance or seeks medical attention,” writes the NCSL.
If your loved one is using heroin, there’s another life-saving call you can make: the one that gets you treatment. Researched-based, inpatient drug rehab programs are one of the most defenses against the opioid epidemic.
Take Action, Save A Life
At Vertava Health, we understand the countless ways the opioid epidemic is ravaging our nation’s families. If you’re concerned your loved one could be at risk for using gray death heroin, let us help. Our knowledgeable treatment specialists can connect you to more resources and the best treatment option for your needs. Contact us today.