What Is Gray Death?
In the United States, heroin has become an entirely different drug from what users were accustomed to in the past. In the old days, heroin was simply heroin. While there was some variation in the potency of this dangerous and addictive opioid, for the most part, heroin was simply an opiate derived from the poppy with approximately four times the potency of morphine. Currently, heroin on the streets is a different substance. Heroin is now a combination of fentanyl and heroin. In fact, in many cases, what is sold as heroin is pure fentanyl. In addition to this new version of the old street drug, there is another deadly form, known on the streets as Gray Death.
Off the charts potency.
Gray Death is a street drug that contains a super potent form of fentanyl, known as carfentanil. Carfentanil is known to be about 1000 times the potency of morphine. It is so potent, that if it comes in contact with a person’s skin, it can cause intoxication and even overdose. In addition to causing the death of drug users, this dangerous and toxic drug puts first responders, including paramedics, doctors, and police officers, at risk for accidental overdose. If this addictive and deadly substance is present, simply touching it can lead to an opioid overdose. In fact, it is so potent, it can even pass through the pores of a latex glove.
Gray Death is lethal even to an elephant.
Carfentanil is commonly known as an elephant tranquilizer. Imagine a drug powerful enough to knock out an Elephant! The opioid crisis in the US, fueled by fentanyl analogs being imported from South America and Asia, has led to this poison being on our streets, putting people who struggle with opioid addiction at risk.
How we can combat Gray Death.
The best thing we can do is to provide harm reduction for drug users in the states and throughout the world to protect them from Gray Death. Naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan, is an emergency overdose reversal drug that can be administered by nasal spray or injection. We need to make this rescue drug more available. Also, drug testing strips should be made available to users on the streets. Of course, protecting first responders is vital as well. By educating law enforcement and healthcare workers on the risks of carfentanil exposure, we will reduce accidental overdose cases. Additionally, preventing clandestine labs around the world from creating this drug and importing it to the US would certainly save many lives.