After the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, the actor who overdosed on a potent batch of heroin, the laced heroin issue has hit Americans like never before, deceiving the tolerance level of many users. This batch of heroin, that has been killing so many people across America, is laced with the prescription drug Fentanyl. It has been debated whether or not it should be called a “deadly” batch of heroin. Is it the specific batch of heroin that is killing them, or is it the amount that they inject killing them? The drug induced deaths have been sweeping the United States ever since the “killer heroin” has hit the streets. But what most people do not know is that some batches of heroin have been laced with fentanyl for a very long time. It just so happens that this particular batch is much more potent than what most users are used to.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is commonly prescribed to patients and issued as an oral pill or as a patch in order to manage severe pain. This drug is said to be close to one hundred times more potent than the drug morphine. The reason why it is so popular is because the users are attracted to the extreme high and then later users most likely become addicted. It was often supplied using dum dum lollipops. The way they label the lollipops is they put a red dot on the bottom of the stick. Adding it to the heroin was a strategic tool to raise business. Some dealers who take their business seriously would not mind risking the lives of a few people from overdoses in order to accumulate thirty to forty more customers. In the early 2000’s the estimated deaths hit over one thousand. The majority of those deaths occurred in the eastern United States.
The laced heroin induced deaths have hit an all-time high, deceiving tolerance levels of users in the state of Pennsylvania. Causing potent opioid effects such as comas or respiratory depression, the laced heroin has claimed twenty-two known lives in the southwestern part of the state. Although it is unknown whether or not the drug had come from the pharmaceutical grade patches and pills or if it had been manufactured in a laboratory, it has been described as a white substance instead of the usual yellow heroin found on the streets. They were labeled “Theraflu”, “income tax”, or “bud ice”. These specific brands had been linked to hundreds of other deaths along the east coast.
Chronic opioid abusers can overcome levels of tolerance so they have to inject more than what they had before in order to get the same high. When they have become accustomed to taking a large quantity of heroin, the victims of this laced drug were probably unaware of its potency and did more than their tolerance could handle which resulted in an overdose. A while back, authorities had arrested Tywon Newby. He was found with 2 thousand bags of the “deadly heroin”. He was also found with forty-eight bricks and more than $85 thousand in cash. The heroin he had was labeled “sky high”. If this deceiving laced heroin would have hit the streets, deadly tolerance levels may have been met in the lives of many.
By Brittany Varner-Miller
Interview: B.F. Landon, Street drug expert