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5 types of heroin found in Northeast Ohio as the drug continues to cripple efforts to curb addiction

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Posted at 2:58 PM, May 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-05 14:58:31-04

In Ohio, local and federal law enforcement officials are dealing with surging heroin and opioid abuse in a portion of the nation that is one of the leaders in overdose deaths. 

According to the Ohio Department of health, overdose deaths have increased from 296 in 2003 to 2,590 in 2015. These numbers are a combination of heroin, fentanyl and prescription deaths. 

Heroin-related deaths

5 types of heroin substances that have made a toehold in Northeast Ohio:  

1. Heroin is typically sold as a white or brownish powder, or as the black sticky substance known on the streets as “black tar heroin.” Although purer heroin is becoming more common, most street heroin is “cut” with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. 

2. Fentanyl can serve as a direct substitute for heroin in opioid dependent individuals. However, fentanyl is a very dangerous substitute for heroin because it is much more potent than heroin and results in frequent overdoses that can lead to respiratory depression and death.

3. Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid that is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which itself is 50 times more potent than heroin. Carfentanil is also used to sedate elephants, rhinoceroses and zebras.

4. Pink Heroin is a synthetic opioid, and its abuse parallels that of heroin, prescription opioids, and other novel opioids. Law enforcement agencies report seizures of the drug in powder form and counterfeit tablets. Abuse of the drug often happens unknowingly to the user, and is encountered as a single substance as well as in combination with other drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.

5. Gray Death is made up of three opiates combined with heroin or fentanyl. Information about the drug appears to be thin, but it has been found in Northeast Ohio and other parts of the Midwest. 

Impact of heroin

In Northeast Ohio, coroners have had to store bodies in mobile morgues and deal with rising costs to deal with the overflow of bodies. Social services have seen an increase in children being left without parents due to fatal overdoses. 

MORE: The cost of the heroin epidemic reaches taxpayers as Ohio coroners' offices are overwhelmed

The epidemic has made such an imprint that politicians have now requested treatment and rehab centers to be made available to combat addiction and help prevent a syringes fatal outcome. 

MORE: Ohio lawmakers plan to pump millions into treatment and detox centers to help fight heroin addiction