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In the News: Bad Batch of Heroin Plagues Pittsburgh

Heroin overdoses were responsible for at least four deaths in Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday, thus naming this a “major public health crisis.” Over the past week, there have been 14 heroin overdoses. The victims all had well-known pasts of drug abuse.

Karl Williams (Allegheny County Medical Examiner) has stated that officials have found little bags branded “Theraflu” at some of the overdose sights in Allegheny County. When Williams was testing the contents of these bags in the lab, he learned that they contained fentanyl, which is a synthetic substitute for morphine and is about one-hundred times stronger than morphine itself. The original purpose of Fentanyl is for people with chronic pain and even is occasionally used for anesthesia; therefore uniting both heroin and fentanyl would be too much for the body system and cause it to weaken, leading to fatality.

It is still unknown if the fentanyl that is in the bad batch of heroin is a prescription or being made in a lab by intelligent scientists. There have also been overdoses occurring in Westmoreland County. The mixture of heroin and fentanyl is supposedly the common thread binding all the overdoses together. This situation brings to the mind the “China White” epidemic in 1988, says Williams, where there were also deaths that were caused from the blend of heroin and a particular type of fentanyl. There may be a catastrophe in the making with this present rash of heroin deaths in Pittsburgh.

It has also not been made clear yet whether these heroin overdoses are part of a local drug threat or a national problem. Due to there being overdoses in Allegheny County and in Westmoreland, there will be more investigation on this matter. Heroin users have been warning each other to only use half of the amount they normally use.

There have been heroin epidemics all over the United States in the past couple months and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Heroin is a very strong and powerful opioid drug that is made from poppy seed. Its appearance can either be white, brown or even a sticky black which is known as black tar heroin. Users of heroin inject, snort, smoke or sniff the drug. When you use these methods of taking heroin it distributes a very instant hit and goes to the brain and gives you a high that tempts many people into addiction. Around 23% of people who experiment with heroin become addicted to it.

I find it to be a very good thing that they are warning heroin users about this dangerous tainted drug going around but it would also be good to offer help and let them know they have options besides just using drugs and living that way. Even if it may not make a difference to them, it can be good to plant the seed and let heroin addicts know that help is available for whenever they decide to seek it. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.


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