All posts by Tony Turrisi

New Gray-Death Drug Can Kill with a Single Dose

A lethal new drug dubbed “gray death” by authorities that is dangerous to even touch with gloves is being eyed in overdose cases across Georgia, Alabama and Ohio. Investigators said the high-potency cocktail — which is comprised of heroin, fentanyl, the elephant tranquilizer carfentanil, and a synthetic opioid called U-47700 — can kill users with a single dose.

“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, told The Associated Press.

A spokeswoman for the agency told the Associated Press that they’ve seen 50 overdoses cases involving gray death over the past three months. Users can inject, swallow, smoke or snort the drug, which varies in consistency and looks like a concrete mixture.

In Alabama, where authorities said they see an evolution of drug abuse and addiction across the state, they are trying to send a clear message about the danger of using gray death before it becomes widely available.

“This is not a drug that you use to get high — if you put this drug into your body you will die, it will kill you,” Clay Hammac, Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task commander, told ABC 33 40.

When Heroin Kills, the Appeal Grows

A heroin user prepares to inject himself.

At the retail end of the global heroin trade, local heroin rings repackage pounds of the drug into single-serve doses and push the product to its final destination: the user. From there, the next stop is often a hospital emergency room or a morgue, as an epidemic of heroin-related overdoses and deaths continues its creep across the country.

In Virginia, an intensive crackdown on heroin rings has shed new light on the relationship between drug dealer and user, providing insight into why that last link in the heroin trafficking chain has become so deadly.

“What we hear from users is that quality is important, and that the reputation of a dealer is rated on a scale of one to 10,” said Marc Birnbaum, assistant attorney general for Virginia.

In a competition for higher ratings, some dealers began offering heroin with varying potencies — from just strong enough to stave off withdrawal symptoms to doses laced with powerful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

“We’ve talked to users whose dealers will say, ‘I got the stuff that will keep you from getting sick, and I got the stuff that will kill you,’ ” Birnbaum said. “It’s a tragic situation because, for the most part, they want the most potent dose.”

Maryland Governor Declares State of Emergency for Opioid Crisis

REISTERSTOWN, Md. – Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday escalated his administration’s response to the opioid-addiction crisis, declaring a state of emergency and committing an additional $50 million over the next five years to beef up enforcement, prevention and treatment services.

Continue reading Maryland Governor Declares State of Emergency for Opioid Crisis

Baltimore Children Pledge to a Live Drug-Free Life

The Maryland Chapter of Drug-Free World visited the children and young adults of the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Franklin Square of Baltimore in March 2107. The children watched a documentary about the dangers of drugs narrated by former drug addicts. There was lively discussion about the things that can happen to a person when they start taking drugs and how quickly one can become addicted.

After the discussion the students signed a Pledge to live a drug free life, to encourage their friends and family members not to take drugs and to help educate others about the dangers of taking drugs. Each student received several Truth About Drugs booklets to read and to distribute to friends.

Continue reading Baltimore Children Pledge to a Live Drug-Free Life

What Is Synthetic Weed and Why Is It Bad for You?

You may have heard of K2 or “Spice,” a pair of terms for synthetic marijuana — or more appropriately, synthetic cannabinoids — which is growing in popularity. Some find them tempting substitutes for traditional weed because these drugs aren’t technically illegal in many places. People who undergo drug testing can consume synthetic marijuana because there’s no law saying you can’t — and that in turn makes the product cheaper and easier to get. Sounds like a sweet deal, right? Continue reading What Is Synthetic Weed and Why Is It Bad for You?

OxyContin Goes Global

OxyContin is a dying business in America.

With the nation in the grip of an opioid epidemic that has claimed more than 200,000 lives, the U.S. medical establishment is turning away from painkillers. Top health officials are discouraging primary care doctors from prescribing them for chronic pain, saying there is no proof they work long-term and substantial evidence they put patients at risk.

Prescriptions for OxyContin have fallen nearly 40% since 2010, meaning billions in lost revenue for its Connecticut manufacturer, Purdue Pharma. Continue reading OxyContin Goes Global

Drug Firms Poured $780M Painkillers Into West Virginia Amid Rise of Overdoses

Follow the pills and you’ll find the overdose deaths.

The trail of painkillers leads to West Virginia’s southern coalfields, to places like Kermit, population 392. There, out-of-state drug companies shipped nearly 9 million highly addictive — and potentially lethal — hydrocodone pills over two years to a single pharmacy in the Mingo County town. Continue reading Drug Firms Poured $780M Painkillers Into West Virginia Amid Rise of Overdoses

CDC Data Shows Heroin Deaths Surpass Gun Homicides

heroin deaths vs gun deathsOpioid deaths continued to surge in 2015, surpassing 30,000 for the first time in recent history, according to CDC data released Thursday.

That marks an increase of nearly 5,000 deaths from 2014. Deaths involving powerful synthetic opiates, like fentanyl, rose by nearly 75 percent from 2014 to 2015.

Continue reading CDC Data Shows Heroin Deaths Surpass Gun Homicides

Progress against Chinese chemists selling dangerous synthetic drugs in US

China’s ban on certain chemicals is being credited by Drug Enforcement Administration officials in a noticeable decrease in certain synthetic drugs in the United States.

Police encounters with six substances that were part of China’s 115-chemical ban have dropped dramatically (PDF) since it took effect in October, DEA numbers show.

Continue reading Progress against Chinese chemists selling dangerous synthetic drugs in US