Cop forced to revive pair of addicts strung out on deadly drug 50 times more potent than heroin in Dayton, Ohio
The American midwest is becoming the epicentre of terrifying opioid epidemic ripping families and communities apart
Overdoses are already the biggest killer of Americans under 50, an estimated 59,000 drug related deaths across America in 2016 alone
Addicts are using fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroin, and carfentanil, which is 10,000 times more potent than morphine
Photo of drug addicts so desperate to get their fix that they injected outside their dealer’s house and crashed into a parked saloon in a quiet suburban Ohio street, being revived by responding police officer
The black jeep had slammed into a parked sedan in a quiet suburban street, just beside a house having a yard sale. Inside were two middle-aged people who looked like corpses.
Their eyes were closed, their mouths wide open, their bodies slumped together in deathly embrace. The man’s head was tilted backwards while the woman at the wheel lay across his shoulder. A syringe lay between her legs, and another was on the dashboard.
The couple, drug addicts so desperate to get their fix that they had injected right outside their dealer’s house and were then hit instantly by the effects of a deadly new synthetic opioid many times more powerful than heroin.
The police swung into action. Such scenes are wearily familiar in the country’s overdose capital. ‘C’mon girl,’ said one officer as he used a syringe to shoot Narcan, a drug that counters opioids, into the slumped woman’s nose. ‘Here she comes. Wake up, little Suzy.’
Fentanyl one of the drugs of choice in the opioid epidemic that is hitting the american heartland
Her eyes opened. ‘What’s going on?’ she whispered. Her senses again functioning, panic set in as she recognized police, followed by terror when she saw her partner laid out on the verge where he had been dragged by officers.
She went from being comatose to walking and even asking for her purse in minutes.
But her 40-year-old partner was less lucky: he was rushed to hospital after 12 shots of Narcan failed to revive him, a common occurrence as this toxic new tide of opioids – drugs derived from opium and now more commonly man-made versions – takes a grip.
Witnesses said another passenger ran from the crash scene. ‘They’ll find her dead tomorrow,’ said deputy sheriff Andy Teague after searching nearby streets. ‘Or maybe she’ll access an empty house, overdose there and they won’t find her body for six months.’
It has been said fentanyl which is 50 times stronger than heroin, opened the path for the influx of carfentanil, a tranquillizer used on elephants and 10,000 times more potent than morphine
Such incidents are all too familiar in Dayton, Ohio. Last year there were an estimated 59,000 drug related deaths across America, more people than those killed by guns, car crashes or AIDS at the peak of its epidemic, creating an annual drain of $80billion on the economy.
Most of the fatalities are middle-aged, middle class white, males.
Overdoses are already the biggest killer of Americans under 50. Yet this year the number of dead could double as the exponentially stronger man-made drugs flood the market.
First came fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroin, followed by carfentanil, which is used to tranquillize elephants and is 10,000 times more potent than morphine. Just a single grain can kill.
Now an array of new opioids made in Chinese and Mexican laboratories are arriving on the streets.
At the coroner’s office, staff scan the Dark Web to detect newly designed drugs. ‘It usually takes about a month and a half before we start seeing the deaths [from the new drug],’ said county coroner Kent Harshbarger (seen in the morgue)
One estimate predicts 650,000 Americans will die after taking these drugs in a decade.
Montgomery County in Ohio, which includes Dayton, is currently thought to have highest rates of deadly overdoses in America.
It is expecting 800 drug deaths this year – more than triple its 2015 tally. The 420 already logged easily exceeds last year’s total.
At the coroner’s office, staff scan the Dark Web to detect newly designed drugs. ‘It usually takes about a month and a half before we start seeing the deaths [from the new drug],’ said county coroner Kent Harshbarger, whose morgue has racks filled with racks of bodies in bags. ‘If this was a terror attack every resource on the planet would be thrown at what is happening,’ he said.
Unscrupulous doctors exacerbated the opioid epidemic by creating pill gin mills that pushed the drugs as prescription
Opioid usage has increased stupendously, it has been said, due to pharmaceutical firms pushing opioids on prescription as pain relief to millions of people. In keeping with the increased demand ‘greedy’ doctors opened ‘pill mills’ to churn out prescriptions, the drugs often sold on illegally. When states finally cracked down, addicts turned to cheaper heroin that Mexican gangs were flooding on to the streets of small-town America.
Now there is a new wave of younger addicts moving almost straight on to opioids since the drugs have lost their stigma.
Fatalities span all works of life including an airline pilot and his wife, babies who have simply touched the drugs, infants contaminated by addicts, teenagers and students, the middle-aged and pensioners.
Dealers have also died from toxic inhalation while chopping up supplies. And three nurses had to be given Narcan after losing consciousness when treating an overdose patient.
The epidemic is devastating society in what was once a prosperous manufacturing town and home to a major car plant. And it has alarming consequences for the future.
‘This is sucking us dry,’ said Phil Plummer, the Dayton-born sheriff of Montgomery County. ‘The police are overwhelmed, the courts are backlogged, the jails are overflowing, the coroner has run out of room – and it is getting worse.