Grey Death, Coming to a street corner near you?

Heroin that looks like concrete, called “Grey Death,” which is a mixture of even more dangerous opioid drugs, has in triggered dozens of overdoses this year, including four fatal ones reported on Thursday in Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio.

“We are more routinely seeing deadly cocktails of heroin, fentanyl, various fentanyl-class substances, along with combinations of other controlled substances,” Drug Enforcement Agency spokesman Russ Baer. Grey Death, he added, is “unfortunately not strange, but a commonplace example of the real world we all live in nowadays.”

Heroin isn’t just heroin anymore. In multiple East Coast cities, the white powder being sold as heroin contains only fentanyl, according to reports from April’s Perscription Drug Abuse Summit in Atlanta.

Addicts dependent on opioids require regular doses of the drug to avoid searing withdrawal symptoms. The euphoria the drugs deliver to brain cells that quickly become habituated, this dependence partly explains why someone would snort or inject something that looks like concrete.

Is this stuff coming to a street corner near you, or is it already there?

A fatal dose of Grey Death beside penny.

The drug is also turning up in seizures of cocaine, methamphetamines, and other illegal drugs, Baer said.

“No one should underestimate the deadly nature associated with these cocktails,” he said. “You can buy one of these cocktails for $10 to $20 on the street and lose your life in a few seconds.”

Carfentanil, an even more potent opioid that probably bears responsibility for two overdose deaths reported yesterday near Pittsburgh, requires only a microscopic amount to kill. Police officers have started wearing gloves to prevent overdosing simply from skin contact with seized samples.

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