Heroin laced with fentanyl, a narcotic used for treating people suffering from severe pain, can make you "super high" but be warned: the cocktail can be lethal. At least 80 deaths across the country have already been attributed to the heroin-fentanyl cocktail.
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has reported that at least 37 people have died from the drugs. Authorities in Pennsylvania have likewise reported 22 deaths and Rhode Island had 25 casualties caused by Fentanyl -laced heroin.
Authorities in Vermont have warned of pure fentanyl, a synthetic opiate, being marketed as heroin and this is something health experts and authorities are worried about because fentanyl can kill if taken in overdose. Fentanyl is used for treating people with chronic pain including cancer patients and as an anesthetic. It is also 80 times more powerful than morphine and it can be lethal because it may inhibit breathing.
Ellen Unterwald, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the Temple University School of Medicine in Pennsylvania said that even a small amount of fentanyl can be deadly because it is so potent. Worse, many users are not aware how much fentanyl is mixed in their drugs. "The dealers push this as being a super high, which it is, but it's also lethal," Unterwald told the Associated Press.
Eric Strain, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and Research at Johns Hopkins University concurs. "A very small amount can exert a very significant effect," he said.
The popularity of heroin has been on the rise because crackdowns on more powerful prescription opiate painkillers have made them inaccessible and more expensive. The death of award winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman this month has even raised suspicions of heroin-fentanyl drug combo use but the investigators who tested the heroin in the actor's apartment found that fentanyl was not included as an additive.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has warned of what it called as "killer heroin," a dug combo made up of up to half fentanyl, advising responders to observe extreme caution when they come in contact with any heroin because fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin.
Heroin dealers stamp the bags that hold their products and authorities said that bags with the stamps 'Bud Light,' 'Theraflu' and 'Income Tax' were tested positive for fentanyl.
"A lot of those people thought that Bud Light was really hot, it's really good stuff, it sends you over the edge," Joseph Coronato, prosecutor in Ocean County in New Jersey told Associated Press. "The demand is so high. That's the problem that's out there."