Theraflu… Bud Ice… Income tax… To many people these words have common meanings; to the heroin addicts, the words are codes. The codes unlock a powerful blend of heroin and fentanyl into a combination that has left 22 people dead in the Pittsburgh, PA area. Fentanyl is normally used medically to treat cancer and is one hundred times more powerful than morphine. The problem is that when fentanyl is mixed with heroin, it’s so strong it can kill users. Doctors are reporting people coming into the hospital who have obviously overdosed, some with the needle still in their arm. The drug comes in small bags called stamps at a price of $10. Health authorities are calling the overdoses a true medical crisis with at least ten overdoses a week. Law enforcement officials believe it is a low level drug dealer chemist who attempted to make his batch stronger. Community organizations have been warning addicts about the drug in IV needle giveaways. Despite these preventative measures, addicts are actively seeking the drug because of its reported potency. Health officials stated that “The addict is going to want to get high as quickly and cheaply as possible. They think they can handle it.”
“The problem is there is no opportunity to cry for help, you just die,” forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht stated. “The two of them acting together have a tremendous effect in depressing the brain. The brain gets depressed and that leads to respiratory depression, a slowing of the heart, then cardio-respiratory arrhythmia and depression. The next thing you know, you’re dead.”
Because the 22 deaths occurred within days, the federal government has become involved. The intent is to track down the dealers and makers of this drug and get it off the street.