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Philip Seymour Hoffman and The Heroin Overdose Epidemic

Image credit: KDKA

A deadly batch of heroin has been making its way across the nation. The deadly heroin, rather a hybrid of heroin and another potent opioid drug called Fentanyl, is leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

Here are some astonishing statistics:

  • The killer heroin is a 50/50 blend of heroin and fentanyl
  • It has killed 22 in Pittsburgh the past two weeks, and 37 more in Maryland since September and 22 more in Rhode Island this month, alone
  • Officials from New Hampshire to Washington are blaming this mixture for the sharp increase in fatal overdoses

From coast to coast, this lethal combination of heroin and fentanyl, is being blamed for about 100 deaths.

According to reports, the two hardest hit states by what’s been called an ‘epidemic’ are Maryland, with over three dozen deaths since September, and Pennsylvania, with upwards of two dozen overdose deaths this month, alone. But it has also been found in areas of New York, such as Long Island, where there have been five reported cases of overdose related to this powerful drug combination.

The 50/50 combo of heroin and fentanyl has been packaged and labelled by street dealers as “Bud Ice,” “income tax” and “Theraflu,” the authorities report.

Fentanyl is a powerful narcotic opiate (a synthetic version of heroin) that is prescribed for breakthrough pain in severe cases such as cancer patients, in which the benefits for pain relief far outweigh the potential cons – such as developing dependence and even addiction.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the lethal cocktail first gained notoriety on a national scale when Pittsburgh-area officials said it had killed 22 people since only January 16.

Authorities are so shaken by this latest lethal trend that, in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio, lawmakers and enforcers are combining efforts and creating specific police units, bolstering treatment programs, and enacting harsher penalties for drug-related crimes.


Dr. Karl Williams, the Allegheny County (in Pennsylvania) Medical Examiner told CBS News, that Fentanyl can be described as being as much as 100 times more powerful than morphine and that the people who have overdosed and died were all found to have taken the lethal combination of heroin and fentanyl.

“They found almost exactly the same substance in those stamped bags, a fifty – fifty mixture of heroin with Fentanyl,” he said. He added that heroin addicts are drawn to this combination drug because it provides a higher high than heroin, alone.

Death occurs because “both substances slow down your breathing and can eventually slow it down to the point of death.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman

It has already been linked to five Long Island overdoses – so we know that the deadly cocktail is circulating in the New York area – where Hoffman lived and where he was found, after succumbing to a fatal overdose.

As of Sunday, authorities have not yet said whether the heroin/fentanyl combination was involved in the actor’s overdose and consequent death.

Authorities did confirm, however, that at least 50 bags of what is suspected to be heroin were found in Hoffman’s West Village apartment. An autopsy will reveal whether fentanyl played a role in Mr. Hoffman’s fatal overdose.

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