Substance Use

What is a Gray Death? The Deadly Drug Combination

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The Gray Death: What It Is, How to Know, and the Dangers

The gray death is a combination of opioids strong enough to immediately cause an overdose death. This dangerous street drug is so named because of its ashen pallor. Gray death is a blend of various opiates, including a substance known simply as “pink,” as well as fentanyl and heroin, but no two samples are exactly alike.

The effects of gray death are so potent it’s been known to cause death by simply touching the substance, and first responders have been caught in its deadly wake.

If you’re worried about your own substance use, that of a loved one, and the powerful street drug that’s known as “the gray death,” Zinnia Health can help. Call us today at (855) 430-9439 to speak with a compassionate treatment specialist.

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What Is Gray Death?

In 2017, a new illicit drug showed up on the streets—the gray death. Illicit use and distribution of heroin with fentanyl spiked around the same time, and while this adulterated substance’s risks are widely known, the gray death drug isn’t as understood. But it’s unbelievably deadlier.

Made of a reckless blend of opioid substances, the grey death is aptly named because of its:

  • Color. The blend of substances results in an ashen color similar to cement. Its forms are as varied as its components, and it’s been found in both rock and powder forms.
  • Power. Even if taken in micro doses it can still result in serious side effects—even immediate death by overdose.

Although law enforcement around the nation has confiscated batches of gray heroin since 2012 (known as “gravel”), this isn’t the same substance being discovered today. In fact, there isn’t much similarity between batches of gray death.

While the same drugs are typically used to create it, the formula is different from batch to batch. In 2017, officials in Georgia gathered 50 samples for testing, all of which were tremendously different. 

Is There a Recipe for Gray Death?

As of now, there’s no standard recipe. That said, grey death is an opioid combination with various opioid drugs typically found in confiscated samples, such as:

  • Pink. Also known by its chemical name, U-47700, Pink doesn’t have any use that’s approved for human consumption. However, people can purchase U-47700 online in large quantities for “research.” Pink is an abused substance due to its effects: it creates a high like that of heroin and is responsible for overdoses in Arizona and other states.
  • Heroin. Many of the confiscated batches of gray death contain some heroin. Heroin produces a fast, strong euphoria. Heroin users are at risk of slowed, labored breathing and, in some cases, may not be able to breathe.
  • Fentanyl. When prescribed legally, fentanyl is a cancer pain medication that’s an incredibly powerful painkiller. Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin and as much as 100 times more potent than morphine. A dose as negligible as a quarter milligram can be lethal. While some gray death batches are created with legal prescription fentanyl, there’s a growing concern over the amount of non-pharmaceutical fentanyl produced through illegal manufacturing methods.
  • Carfentanil. Carfentanil is a large animal tranquilizer. This substance is an opiate (synthetic opioid) that’s 100 times as powerful as fentanyl and an incredible 10,000 times more potent than morphine.

To date, gray death has been discovered in multiple states, including:

  • Ohio
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Pennsylvania
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Arizona

Research on gray death samples continues puzzling authorities due to the drug’s ingredients and subsequent gray coloring—the former, they say, doesn’t explain the latter.

How Dangerous Is Gray Death?

The United States’ battles with synthetic narcotics, opioid abuse, and addiction continue growing and evolving. Heroin is a notorious illicit substance around the world for the fear it creates: rumors of addiction, overdose, respiratory depression, and death for first-time users abound.

If that isn’t scary enough, consider this: it’s only one substance among many in the country’s current opioid crisis. More people than ever before are abusing, overdosing, and dying from prescribed opiate medications.

A heroin user can die within moments of using the same amount they normally use if the substance isn’t straight heroin but, in fact, gray death. 

Overdose and death from gray death continue rising. Exact figures aren’t easy to find, though, which has a lot to do with the fact that there’s no consensus as to gray death’s exact ingredients and their amounts. When testing for ingested substances, gray death isn’t always identified. This lack of identification typically occurs because the opiates are in such minute quantities that they escape detection.

Thankfully, the same methods treatment specialists use to reverse heroin overdoses can reverse overdoses thought to be from gray death, too. However, it’s a more challenging process that may require several rounds of naloxone treatment.

Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a drug used to help immediately remove the toxic levels of a substance from an overdosing person’s body. The dangers of this type of treatment when used for a gray death overdose include the potential requirement for as many as 10 doses of naloxone, which the average person or first responder may not be equipped with. Naloxone when used to help reverse any substance overdose also presents aggravated potential for precipitated withdrawal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) deaths from prescription, synthetic, and illicit opioids increased tenfold between 1999 and 2021. Gray death with heroin, Pink, carfentanil, and fentanyl is potentially the most lethal street drug available. Depending on the batch’s exact ingredients, an amount you can’t even see can lead to a fatal overdose.

And while this is quite concerning, gray death may not be the worst illicit street substance available. Drug manufacturers are always changing ingredients or creating entirely new illegal drugs in an effort to evade legislation and detection by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Sadly, heroin users unknowingly become the guinea pigs for these substances and their adverse effects. Sometimes, individuals pay the ultimate price—death.

Are you concerned about your or a loved one’s substance use? Zinnia Health can help. If you or a loved one use heroin, there’s no better time than today to take the first steps towards sobriety. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to speak with a caring addiction specialist about treatment options. The life you save might be your own.

Gray Death Doesn’t Just Affect Heroin Users

While the primary victims of gray death are opioid/opiate addicts (and their loved ones), these aren’t the only people affected by the existence of gray death on our streets. Heroin users have increasingly become the hardest hit of all as manufacturers adulterate the substance with additional substances.  

However, other people who don’t abuse substances can also inadvertently become victims—police officers and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) put their lives at risk when responding to an overdose call for help.

Synthetic opiates like the gray death don’t require ingestion—these substances can penetrate the skin (if touched or handled) or enter the airways (if unknowingly inhaled). Law enforcement officers have overdosed with very minimal contact with the substance.

Healing for Good with Zinnia Health

Substance abuse is an increasing problem in our states, cities, and towns. Whether you have a drug addiction to amphetamines or deadly opioids, Zinnia Health is on a mission to help our nation heal for good. Getting help for substance use might just save your life, or that of a loved one or first responder who tries to help you. Call us today at (855) 430-9439 to speak to a compassionate addiction specialist today.

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