“Epidemic” of Heroin Overdoses Linked to Fentanyl

Heroin Laced with Fentanyl Causes Overdoses Across the Country

heroinLast month, the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency set up a texting line to collect information after 22 people overdosed on heroin laced with fentanyl in Pennsylvania.

In addition to the epidemic of overdose deaths in Pennsylvania, fentanyl-laced heroin has caused the overdose deaths of at least 37 people in Maryland, 25 people in Rhode Island, and Vermont police have reportedly found some heroin laced with fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a narcotic typically prescribed as an anesthetic for people with chronic pain, especially cancer patients in the last stage of the disease. The drug can also be used to enhance the effect of other narcotics, in very small doses. Fentanyl is 80 times more powerful than morphine, and is such a strong sedative that it can prevent the user from breathing.

Fentanyl can also cause a “super-high,” which authorities believe is why lacing heroin, itself an opiate, with the prescription drug is becoming so popular and so deadly.

“A very small amount can exert a very significant effect,” said Eric Strain, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and Research at Johns Hopkins University.

While investigating the overdose deaths in Pennsylvania, authorities found bags with labels like “Income Tax,” “Theraflu,” and “Bud Light.” A Pennsylvania State Police bulleting over the weekend of January 25th reported two new drug names: “Coors Light” and “Diesel.”

“A lot of those people thought that Bud Light was really hot, it’s really good stuff, it sends you over the edge,” said Ocean County, N.J. Prosecutor Joseph Coronato. “It’s a marketing tool, almost.”

Ocean County has seen many fentanyl-laced heroin overdoses in the past several years. In 2012, the county reported 53 overdose deaths related to the drug cocktail, and in 2013 the county suffered 112.

“The demand is so high. That’s the problem that’s out there,” Coronato said.

Heroin has been reportedly surging in popularity as opioid addicts turn to the cheaper drug while prescription painkillers – still far too available to drug users – undergo tighter regulations and the DEA cracks down on “pill mills.”

In 2005, a fentanyl-laced heroin overdose epidemic struck the Midwest. By May 2006, the peak year, major cities in eight Midwestern states – Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburg, Camden, New Jersey, and Detroit – saw a dramatic rise in overdose deaths related to the combined street narcotic. Chicago saw 100 heroin and fentanyl overdose deaths, and Detroit suffered 130 overdose deaths. Between 2005 and 2007, over 1,000 people nationwide died due to an overdose of fentanyl-laced heroin.

“It’s a different heroin now,” said T.J. Smith, a spokesman for the police in Anne Arundel County, Md. “You can’t use that same amount of heroin that you used a year ago because now it has a fentanyl kick in it.”

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Heroin Drug Charges

Drug charges, including methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or prescription drugs, need to be examined from every angle, and in many cases are subject to mandatory minimum sentences.  Drug crime charges and drug busts in South Carolina are very serious. The drug possession and drug trafficking lawyers at the Strom Law Firm, LLC,  include a former United States Attorney and Richland County Assistant Solicitor, a former Public Defender, and a former Assistant Attorney General and Richland County Assistant Solicitor. Mr. Strom has been given an AV-Rating, the highest ranking possible, from the respected legal guide Martindale-Hubble. If you have been charged with possession, trafficking, or manufacturing drugsthe attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so contact us today by calling (803)252-4800.

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