Warnings spread about cocaine laced with Fentanyl following overdose deaths
Atlanta, GA — Atlanta’s arts and music scene has been rocked this week by deaths connected to cocaine laced with Fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent, according to Drugabuse.gov. It’s been linked to numerous deaths. NPR reported that Fentanyl-laced drugs led to a surge of overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The trend contributed to a stark rise in overdoses that left more than 90,000 Americans dead during the 12-month period ending in September 2020, according to the latest data,” NPR reported.
Georgia Overdose Prevention, a local group that promotes the lifesaving drug Narcan, issued a warning this week following three overdoses connected to bars in Midtown.
“Be careful out there,” Georgia Overdose Prevention warned. “If you are using, test your product with Fentanyl test strips (FTS). Never use alone, but if you must, call the Never Use Alone peer telephone line first at 1-800-484-3731. They will call 911 if you need it. Always do a small test dose and if it feels off, don’t use it. Go low and slow. And always, always have naloxone! Remember Fentanyl clumps in cocaine like chocolate chips in a cookie. It’s not distributed evenly. So one person can use from a supply and get no chips (Fentanyl) and be fine and the next person can use from the same supply, get a chip or two (Fentanyl), and overdose.”
Fentanyl test strips can be purchased on Amazon.
Robin Elliott, co-founder Georgia Overdose Prevention, heard that two people passed away and one overdose was reversed.
As far as why someone would put Fentanyl in cocaine, Elliott said the reasons are varied.
“Could be lots of reasons,” Elliott said. “Contamination. Someone selling multiple drugs and contaminating one with another. On purpose to stretch product. Crazy but not uncommon. But we see everything cut with Fentanyl these days. Cocaine and Fentanyl is not new. Meth too. Pills. Really everything except weed. That is why we always say anyone using should have Narcan. You do not know what you are getting.”
Decaturish spoke to a man who is a neighbor of one of the two people believed to have died from an inadvertent overdose caused by contaminated cocaine. The man, who asked that we identify him as Tony, lives in the Edgewood neighborhood.
Tony said his neighbor visited a Midtown bar and got hooked up there. The other victim was a bartender, Tony said.
“I’ve known this guy for six years,” Tony said of his neighbor. “Great guy, works in the movies, old time musician from Atlanta, been around the scene. I don’t think he was a heavy user. People are out, they’re having a good time, you do a bump you don’t think anything of it. This Fentanyl shit it hits you, then it hits you again. They were in the hospital. They got zapped by paddles, were released and both of them died.”
Tony was alerted to the situation when his neighbor’s coworker showed up to check on him. They broke into his neighbor’s house and found him dead in his chair.
“I don’t have a toxicology report, of course,” Tony said. “Everyone’s opinion is that it was Fentanyl because it tracks. Cocaine shouldn’t do that to you. You shouldn’t take a bump and end up in the hospital.”
An employee of Starbar said, “Based on events, it does appear there is another upswing in Fentanyl laced drugs (not just cocaine).”
The employee said Atlanta Harm Reduction and Georgia Overdose Prevention are helping to provide training and kits for the event.
It’s also important to note that Georgia has a medical amnesty law that protects people seeking help from being arrested by law enforcement.
According to Ascensa Health,”In the state of Georgia you can call 911 if you or someone you are with is at risk of overdose and you won’t be arrested. The Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty law provides limited immunity from arrest, charge and prosecution for possession of certain drugs and drug paraphernalia for individuals who experience a drug overdose and are in need of medical care, and for those who seek medical care in good faith for a person experiencing an overdose. This law saves lives. To find out more about how this law protects those with substance use disorder, click here.”
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