An opioid epidemic is already at hand, but authorities are now warning the public about the latest and scariest opioid drug threat. Called the "gray death," the lethal combination of drugs could worsen the already dangerous epidemic.

The Gray Death

Though intended to be painkillers, opioids have evolved to become dangerous substances that have already claimed many lives. Now, authorities are warning of a lethal mixture of opioids as the latest combination trend.

The Gray Death is named as such for two reasons, the first being that the substance is of a gray hue similar to a concrete mix, and can come in various consistencies from a solid material to a fine powder. The "death" aspect of its name comes from the dangerous combination of drugs that on their own are quite dangerous already, but together form an even more lethal combination.

Fentanyl, heroin, a dangerous synthetic drug called U-47700, and carfentanil, a drug that's more often used as an elephant tranquilizer, make up the deadly combination of gray death.

It can be snorted, injected, swallowed, or smoked, but authorities have warned that simple skin exposure can place a user at risk. In the past three months alone, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has received 50 overdose cases associated with gray death.

What's more dangerous about gray death is that its users are often unaware of the ingredients and exact concentrations of what they are taking, and more often than not, they do not know that the drug they are buying has been mixed with other dangerous drugs as well.

The Opioid Epidemic

Between the years of 2000 and 2015, more than half a million Americans died from a drug overdose, with 91 deaths from an opioid overdose a day. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention said that a major driving factor in the epidemic is the increase in opioid prescriptions since 1999, increasing prescription opioid sales up to four times.

What's more, though users may not intend to depend on opioids for pain management, the CDC reports that it would be much easier for an individual to get addicted to opioids even after just five days of usage.

Opioid Abuse And Misuse

Opioids are actually a class of drugs which include both illegal drugs such as heroin, and legal drugs such as morphine, which helps patients to manage pain. They are a class of powerful pain relievers that interact with the opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain.

Due to its capability to not just significantly reduce pain, but also induce a sense of euphoria, regular opioid use can lead to dependence and more often than not is the cause of misuse and abuse.

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