A new street drug is on the rise and a single dose of it may prove to be deadly. If you have a loved one who suffers from substance abuse problems, you’ll want to know all about this new drug, how accessible it is, and what it can do.
What Is Gray Death?
Gray death is a dangerous mixture of opioids that has already caused several fatal overdoses in the United States.1 It gets its ominous name from its appearance; a gray, ashy-looking substance that looks like concrete mixing powder. It also sometimes appears in the form of gray rocks or chunks.
Gray death can be extremely toxic and potent to those who snort, inject or orally ingest it, and it’s even dangerous to the touch, as some of the drugs used to make it can be absorbed through the skin. According to a report from USA Today, one police officer overdosed from gray death because he accidentally touched a small bit of it on his uniform.2
Unfortunately, we still don’t know exactly what it’s made of, only that it typically contains the following ingredients3:
- Fentanyl – This is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine, but is 50 to 100 times more potent. It is a prescription drug that is typically used to treat patients with severe or chronic pain or to help them manage post-surgery pain.4
- Heroin – Heroin is an opioid made from morphine and is similar to some prescription opioid medications.5 In fact, many people who abuse prescription opioids often move on to abuse heroin because it is more affordable and much easier to obtain.
- Carfentanil – Carfentanil is a tranquilizer that is used to sedate large animals, such as lions and elephants. This synthetic opioid is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which is already quite powerful. Carfentanil and other fentanyl-related drugs can be absorbed through the skin or by accidental inhalation (if the powder becomes airborne).6
- U-47700 – U-47700 is a synthetic opioid also referred to as “Pink.” It is usually a white or light pink chalky powder but it has also been seized in tablet form. Even small doses of U-47700 can be deadly and according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), at least 46 deaths were linked to the drug in 2015 and 2016.7
Samples taken from batches seized by authorities have all contained a different mix of ingredients, so it’s not always clear what users are ingesting. In addition, the facilities manufacturing this drug are not regulated, therefore one batch may be much stronger than another or include a particularly toxic mixture of ingredients. These qualities make it all the more dangerous for users picking it up on the street.
According to one report from CNN, Georgia police have seized nearly 50 batches of gray death from locations around the state, with the Atlanta area being a particularly popular spot to find it. The drug has also been found in Alabama, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.1
Dangers of Opioid Abuse
Opioid drugs are extremely powerful and addictive. Many individuals who take prescription opioid drugs for their intended purpose become addicted or physically dependant on these drugs because they take them more frequently than they should or combine them with other substances. Even those who take prescription opioids as prescribed are at risk for developing an addiction or other substance abuse problem.8
Opioid drugs are very effective for controlling pain and they create a sense of euphoria or a “high” in those that abuse them. Heroin produces a very short but intense high, which makes it all the more addictive. Since these drugs are so addictive, opioid abuse often quickly leads to addiction.
Opioid addiction can have very severe consequences for one’s health, social life, education, and career, impacting nearly every aspect of life. Although short-term side-effects may be less severe and include symptoms like nausea, drowsiness, and lethargy, the long-term health effects are very serious. Over time, opioid abuse can inhibit a person’s ability to feel pleasure, as well as cause liver damage, brain damage, chronic infections, and addiction.9
Treatment for Opioid Abuse and Addiction
The only effective way to address opioid abuse, dependence, and addiction is with a high-quality medically assisted drug detox program. This should be the very first step in a comprehensive addiction treatment care plan that will address all aspects of a person’s addiction—physical, emotional, and psychological.
Medically assisted opioid detox at an accredited detox center is the only way to safely stop all use of opioid drugs. A trusted detox center such as Hill Country Detox will be able to safely manage withdrawal symptoms and make sure that the individual is comfortable throughout the process. Opioid detox can be unpredictable, especially when it’s attempted without medical supervision. For this reason, it’s extremely important to complete a detox program in a medically monitored environment.
If you or a loved one is suffering from opioid dependence or addiction, please contact our admissions team today. We would be happy to provide more information about our individualized opioid drug detox programs, complete a quick phone screening with you, and schedule your enrollment date.
Opioid drugs like the gray death are too dangerous to just ignore. Get help for yourself or your loved one today.