With news reports and public health alerts sounding the alarm, “gray death” is making its way across the US into our homes, schools and communities. These were the same kind of warnings we heard a few years ago about Fentanyl and now that drug is being found in more than 75% of tested heroin samples. Here’s what you need to know about this latest deadly threat:
- Though ingredients vary, gray death is typically a combination of heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl and U-47700, along with carfentanil, which is used as an elephant tranquilizer.
- The aptly named drug looks like concrete mix and varies in consistency from a hard, chunky material to a fine powder.
- Gray death users inject, swallow, smoke or snort it. It’s most often snorted and injected.
- The drug cocktail has been found during arrests and in overdose investigations in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania.
- Fentanyl and U-47700 were linked to the death of musical superstar Prince last year.
- Naloxone can be less effective at reversing overdoses spurred by fentanyl, carfentanil and other synthetic opioids. First responders now often need to use multiple doses in order to revive overdose victims.
- Naloxone-resistant isn’t the same as naloxone-proof, but we should be concerned that a key tool for saving lives is becoming less effective as the drug crisis stays two steps ahead of our efforts.