Among the many other risks inherent in using illegal drugs, if you’re buying them off the street you have no way of knowing how pure they are or what other substances they may have been mixed with.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued an advisory to the medical community about an increase in deaths that were reportedly linked to the use of heroin contaminated with the drug fentanyl. Fentanyl is a form of opioid, and when used in combination with heroin, can cause severe injury and even death. In January 2014, there were 22 fentanyl-related deaths reported in Rhode Island alone.
Although fentanyl was mostly mixed with heroin when it first came to the U.S., these days it also laces cocaine, methamphetamines, and other drugs, oftentimes without the user’s knowledge. In 2016, more than 4,100 — about 40 percent – of all cocaine deaths involved fentanyl. That same year, a tainted version of the prescription opiate Norco being sold on the streets of led to dozens of overdoses and at least six deaths in less than a week in Sacramento County, California alone.
The reasons why a dealer might mix other drugs with fentanyl vary, although profit undoubtedly plays a role. These drugs are more addictive than in their untouched state, which means more customers for the drug dealer. It could also be used to differentiate the product – if you sell someone cocaine that is laced with fentanyl without telling them, then they experience a much more intense result, they might believe that your product is higher quality and return to buy more.
It isn’t only synthetic opioids that are being added to illegal drugs. Sometimes filler will be used to bulk up the package, making it look like the user is getting more than he actually this. This allows the drug dealer to stretch his product farther, resulting in more profit. Sometimes these additives increase the effects of drugs, and sometimes they can be dangerous or even deadly. In heroin, for example, quinine, which is actually an anti-malaria medication, is sometimes added to dilute it. Unfortunately, quinine together will heroin can lead to kidney failure, blindness, and death. Some heroin has even been found to contain strychnine, a pesticide primarily known as a rat killer. In humans, it can cause muscle spasms, poisoning, and death. Cocaine is sometimes cut with baking soda, which is mostly harmless but is also sometimes mixed with the anesthetic Lidocaine, which gives the impression of higher purity but can lead to vomiting, convulsions, and cardiac problems. Some drugs have even found to be laced with lead in order to increase weight, which can cause poisoning, coma, and death.
If you need help quitting drug or alcohol abuse, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 and let us get you on the road to recovery.