In the last couple of years, heroin and prescription painkiller abuse, addiction, and overdose rates have skyrocketed in the United States. We are losing people at a record-breaking rate. In 2017, in certain regions, it is more likely for the average American to know someone who has had an opiate-related overdose than to not.
This is largely due to two factors:
- In previous years, the U.S. prescribed prescription painkillers at rates higher than any other country in the world; causing patients to become physically dependent on opiates. Doctors stop prescribing the pills or prices become too high as a user's tolerance and the doses needed increases, leading people to heroin.
- The increasing numbers of heroin batches being cut with fentanyl, carfentanil, and other synthetic opioids are causing overdoses at rates higher than we’ve ever seen.
The problem is becoming so severe that many consider the opioid epidemic a ‘National Emergency’. Adding to this disaster -- the discovery of a new opiate-based cocktail, ‘Grey Death’.
What is Grey Death?
Finding the words to explain what exactly Grey Death is, is more difficult than you may think. This is because each sample or batch that has been seized by law enforcement or found in overdose victims contains slightly different ingredients, though all bear the same resemblance. It is described as being a grey-colored chunky powder, resembling a cement mixture. Scientists are still yet to figure out what makes the substance grey in color.
Grey Death contains a deadly mixture of heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, and other synthetic opiates. These specific synthetic opiates, or ‘designer drugs’, can be more than 10,000 times as powerful as morphine and include:
...and the list goes on. According to DEA Spokeswoman Barbara Carreno, they have actually identified between 300-400 different compounds, making this concrete-like substance nearly impossible to research further.
Who is Affected by Grey Death?
This ‘poison’ was originally found in the South, in states like Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. However, it is slowly making its way up to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and beyond; most recently hitting Indiana.
Even just knowing what little we know, most people can't understand why a person would put the drug in their body. Researchers have hypothesized that those who use Grey Death are heroin addicts who unintentionally buy from a bad batch. They then prepare to use their own typical dose, but the potency of this ‘super’ heroin kills them within minutes.
Others may intentionally seek it, thinking that their body’s tolerance can handle it, and they’ll be able to catch the high again that they’ve been seeking throughout their addiction.
Grey Death Being Transmitted Through the Air?
The results are in, and the rumors are true. With the stories first hitting click-bait gossip sites, many people overlooked or dismissed the fear-provoking headlines. These sites exclaimed that Grey Death can be absorbed by skin contact, or inhaled from the powder that becomes airborne. It enters the air similar to the way a bottle of baby powder or a flour bag produces dust. However, both the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and Snopes.com confirmed this to be true.
But, wouldn’t this type of contact only transfer of trace amounts? The answer is, yes. That’s how much of the drug is needed to turn lethal.
Because of this, Grey Death can affect police officers, paramedics, and other first responders. Unfortunately, they usually don't even know it until they start feeling overdose symptoms. A Grey Death overdose can happen in just a few minutes after making contact with the substance and takes multiple doses of Naloxone to take any effect.