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Our Local Heroin Addiction

Our Local Heroin Addiction

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Heroin mixed with fentanyl is a deadly combination


by Justin Platek

Heroin users are able to achieve a stronger high when the drug is mixed with fentanyl, a narcotic used mostly to treat people with chronic pain.

Much stronger than morphine, fentanyl-laced heroin can be a deadly concoction.

"They can overdose and die with one bag," said Dr. David Battista, an addiction specialist at Twin Lakes Center in Somerset County.

Battista said it doesn't take much: a dose as small of a grain of salt can be fatal.

Many times, experts say, when addicts know a particular batch of heroin contains fentanyl, they'll seek out the dealer who's selling it. 

Heroin is packaged in stamp bags. As the name suggests, they're little bags stamped with names like 7 of Hearts, Red Hot or Eminem.

Bags of heroin that have been known to contain fentanyl were stamped Bud Ice and Theraflu. Those batches killed 22 people in Western Pennsylvania earlier this year.

The problem is getting so bad, so out of control, that doctors are warning addicts to test their drugs. Battista said he suggests users inject themselves with a small amount of heroin to make sure it's not potent enough to kill them.

Battista is not an advocate for heroin, but knows there's a better shot of preventing another senseless death if he has these kinds of frank conversations.

"Overdosing and dying isn't something that's foremost in the mind," he said.

Heroin mixed with fentanyl is a deadly combination

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