Deaths linked to heroin overdoses are sweeping the nation and a large animal tranquilizer found in many samples is the likely culprit.
Drug-induced deaths hit record numbers in 2014, according to the Center for Disease Control, and this lethal trend continues to worsen. In just roughly a month, approximately 300 people from four states have overdosed on heroin thanks to the powerful sedative Carfentanil, and its slightly less potent cousin, Fentanyl.
Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid as small as a grain of salt, but is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. Such drugs are usually administered intravenously (through veins), but can also be smoked or snorted like heroin.
Hamilton County, Ohio, reported 174 drug overdoses between Aug. 19 and Aug. 24, according to WCPO Cincinnati, with more than 70 in the final two days of the reporting period.
“The last 10 days have been unprecedented,” said Dennis Deters, chairman of Hamilton County’s Heroin Coalition and a county commissioner, according to Time.
“These people are intentionally putting in drugs they know can kill someone,” Newtown, Ohio police chief Tom Synan, who is also head of the Hamilton County Heroin Task Force, told WCPO Cincinnati. “The benefit for them is if the user survives it is such a a [sic] powerful high for them, they tend to come back … If one or two people dies, they could care less. They know the supply is so big right now that if you lose some customers in their eyes there’s always more in line.”
Synan believes that Carfentanil is most likely originating from China and then being shipped to South America and Mexico. He does not rule out the possibility that it is being manufactured in laboratories directly in Mexico.
Two parents on heroin passed out in a car with a four-year-old child in East Liverpool, Ohio last week, after the car reportedly swerved to the side of the road. Local law enforcement and city authorities took pictures of the harrowing incident and posted it on Facebook. The operators of the social media account decided not to blur the child’s face.
“We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug. We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess,” the city’s Facebook post read. “This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.”
This incident is not just unique to Ohio, or the Midwest, or even the U.S. The United Kingdom is dealing with a heroin epidemic themselves, and statistics show that the annual fatality rates have doubled in the past three years, reports The Economist.
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