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article image'Gray Death' opioid craze — Users are playing Russian roulette

By Karen Graham     May 4, 2017 in Health
Heroin and opioid addiction in the United States has an ever-changing face, and it seems to be fueled by users always looking for that "ultimate high." They may have found that high with the latest drug-mix craze, aptly named - "Gray Death."
The statistics are getting depressing, as hardly a day go by that someplace in America, someone, or in some cases, many people overdose or die from opioid and/or heroin-opioid combinations. And today's news is no different.
The latest craze has been nicknamed the "Gray Death" by law enforcement investigators. This dangerous combination of opioids and heroin has been blamed for overdoses in Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio. The mixture looks like a concrete mix and can vary in its consistency, from hard and chunky like a rock, to a fine, powdery mix, according to CBS News.
CTV News Canada is reporting the mixture of illicit drugs in Gray Death is a combination of several opioids that alone, have caused thousands of deaths across the U.S. The dangerous mix can include heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, and even the synthetic opioid called U-47700.
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Gray Death on Tritter
"Gray death is one of the scariest combinations that I have ever seen in nearly 20 years of forensic chemistry drug analysis," Deneen Kilcrease, manager of the chemistry section at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said.
Kilcrease points out that drug users really don't know what they are buying, and definitely will have no idea of the concentrations of the various drugs in the mixture. This alone makes them particularly lethal, she said. Added to the risks? -These drugs can be absorbed through the skin, simply by touching the powder. This fact makes these drugs very lethal for users, as well as the emergency healthcare providers that try to revive them when they overdose.
Gray Death users can inhale, inject, swallow or snort the mix, according to a bulletin released by the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a group based in Louisiana that works with law enforcement and intelligence agencies to reduce illegal drug trafficking in the six-state region. And they add that Gray Death is much, much more potent than heroin.
In the past three months, reports the Chicago Tribune, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has recorded 50 overdoses that involved Gray Death, with most of the cases centered in the Atlanta area, said spokeswoman Nelly Miles.
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Gray Death on Tritter
And in Ohio, the Cincinnati Coroner's office says they have been seeing a similar compound to the Gray Death coming in for several months. The Ohio Attorney General's Office has had eight samples analyzed and they all matched the Gray Death mixture.
"We have put out the bulletin to all of the other drug task forces in Ohio," Lorain County detective Jim Larkin told CBS affiliate KMTV. "It's amazing to me that they find out one of their friends died from an overdose of the drug and they immediately try to find out where he got it from because they want to try it too," Larkin said.
Larkin expresses the frustration of many in law enforcement and health care when he goes on to add, "Why anybody — 'Hey here's some gray death,' but what do you think is going to happen to you? Why do you think it's called gray death?"
Richie Webber nearly died in 2014 when he overdosed on a combination of heroin and fentanyl. It took to doses of Naloxone to revive him. He is now sober, an overdose survivor who runs a treatment organization called Fight for Recovery, in Clyde, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) southeast of Toledo, Ohio.
Webber warns drug users to never take drugs alone because they just don't know what combination of drugs they're taking, anymore. "You don't know what you're getting with these things," Webber said. "Every time you shoot up you're literally playing Russian roulette with your life."
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