NEW YORK, NY – MAY 27: A kit of Naloxone, a heroin antidote that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, is displayed at a press conference about a new community prevention program for heroin overdoses in which New York police officers will carry kits of Naloxone. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Drug dealers are starting to sell the overdose reversal drug with heroin batches in order to ensure their customers keep coming back for more.
First responders in Jacksonville, Fla., are warning they are increasingly finding illicitly obtained Narcan supplies with addicts, who use it with their heroin to guard against a fatal overdose. Some officials fear this is enabling addicts, who use it to self medicate in order to continue abusing the substance, reports Action News Jax.
Drug distributors are also selling doses of the nasal spray with their heroin batches, something officials call a nefarious scheme to keep their customers trapped in a cycle of abuse.
“It’s very common,” Dr. Marcus De Carvalho, medical director at Beaches Recovery, told Actions News Jax. “I’ve heard from many clients, especially here in Jacksonville, that drug dealers are actually selling heroin or opioids with Narcan and that’s not to save their lives. It’s actually to just bring them back to continue to buy more heroin.”
It is often unclear how a heroin user obtains Narcan supplies, but officials are critical of uneven regulations that vary across the country. In some states anyone can buy Narcan without a medical prescription.
“It does need to be regulated in that it’s not getting in the wrong hands,” De Carvalho told Action News Jax. “And so some oversight does need to take place.”
Authorities in several states have recently said some potent heroin batches cut with fentanyl analogs, or synthetic replications of fentanyl, are proving resistant to the overdose reversal drug Narcan. New forms of the substance continue to increase in potency and authorities are having a difficult time keeping up.
Workers at New Jersey’s Office of Forensic Sciences have identified cases of carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer and fentanyl analog roughly 10,000 stronger than morphine.
Other potent analogs including acrylfentanyl and tetrahydro fentanyl have also been identified in crime labs in Georgia, Illinois and New Jersey.
Drug overdoses are now the number one cause of accidental death for Americans under 50. The New York Times recently culled through data from state health departments and county medical examiners and coroners, predicting there were between 59,000 and 65,000 drug deaths in 2016.
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