Substance Use

What Are Hot Shot Drugs?

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Hot Shot Drugs: Everything You Should Know

Hot shot drug is a relatively new term describing a prescription drug or illicit substance injected, inhaled or snorted. Hot shot drugs have earned their title: Often, a user suspects they’ve purchased their go-to drug when, in fact, they’ve unknowingly purchased something adulterated with harmful—or even deadly—substances or amounts.  

Hot shot drug effects are usually much more intense and last longer than other drugs. For instance, the gray death is a hot shot mix made using a base of heroin, a cocktail of opioids, and other, more potent synthetic opiates. Using a hot shot drug even once can result in serious health consequences and even fatal overdose.

Are you or a loved one abusing drugs? Help is available for dangerous drug addictions. If you’re ready for addiction treatment to get clean and heal for good, reach out to the caring treatment specialists at Zinnia Health. Our treatment center’s toll-free addiction hotline is staffed 24 hours/day, every day, at (855) 430-9439.

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What Drugs Are Typically Used in Hot Shots?

Hot shot drug ingredients are both illegal and incredibly dangerous. Unlike their name, these substances aren’t always in liquid form. Hot shot drugs can be pills or powders, too.

Some of the most well-known hot shot drugs are opioids or stimulants and include:

  • Heroin: A dose of heroin was once prescribed by physicians for pain management, heroin is produced from another painkilling medication, morphine. Heroin use can lead to tolerance and dependence, resulting in greater, more frequent use to sustain the high, often resulting in overdose and even death.
  • Meth: Methamphetamine is a potent stimulant and one of the most prevalent in the nation. The energy boost and euphoric feelings induced by small amounts of meth often lead to increased usage. Increased amounts of meth can cause:
    • Paranoid delusions
    • Inability to sleep
    • Confused or racing thoughts
    • Hallucinations
  • MDMA: Also known by its common street name Ecstasy, MDMA is a psychoactive stimulant known for its meth-like effects with the addition of boosting an individual’s empathic nature.
  • Cocaine: Cocaine, one of many potent stimulant substances, is a derivative of South American coca leaves. Cocaine (or “coke”) achieves its effects by acting on the central nervous system (CNS) in much the same way as adrenaline. This and other qualities have resulted in many countries outlawing the use and distribution of cocaine.
  • LSD: Lysergic acid diethylamide (a.k.a. “acid”) is one of the planet’s strongest mind-altering drugs. LSD comes in various forms and applications, such as paper or tabs a user can swallow or place on their skin, such as on or under the tongue. Liquid LSD is injected. Acid has been among the highest level controlled substances (Schedule I) since 1968 when the government deemed the substance to have no acceptable medical purpose.

If you engage in hot shot substance abuse and are considering treatment, or you suspect a loved one might be at risk, we can help. Zinnia Health works with you, helping identify the substances most often used and creating a uniquely tailored treatment plan. Call our substance use treatment professionals at (855) 430-9439.

What’s in a Hot Shot of Heroin?

The base substance most often used in hot shots is heroin. These heroin hot shots also include multiple other opioids, such as morphine and hydrocodone

Grey death hot shots can also contain highly potent, illicit substances such as (in order of potency):

  • Oxycodone
  • Fentanyl
  • U-47700 (also known as Pink)
  • Carfentanil

Fentanyl is around 50 times greater in potency than heroin and about 100 times the potency of morphine. Fentanyl has proven deadly, as multiple news outlets around the country have reported.

However, carfentanil is even scarier at 10,000 times the potency of morphine, translating to a potency of 100 times that of fentanyl. Hot shots typically lead to overdose, but most often, those containing carfentanil will result in death.

But given these substances’ potencies, what are the real-world dangers? And how can you tell if someone’s experiencing an overdose? Let’s take a look.

What is Gray Death?

The gray death is so named because of the resulting ashen pallor seen in those who’ve used it. A gray death hot shot is strong enough to immediately cause an overdose death. Hot shots containing carfentanil, for instance, need only have an amount of carfentanil equal to a grain of salt to result in a near-immediate fatal overdose.

Gray death is a blend of various opiates, including heroin, a substance known by the alpha-numeric name U-47700 (often referred to as “pink,”), fentanyl, and carfentanil (an elephant tranquilizer), but no two samples are exactly alike. Gray death is so potent it’s been known to cause death by simply touching the substance. First responders are also at risk when responding to calls for assistance with an active overdose.

What Are the Dangers of Hot Shot Drugs?

It’s nearly impossible for an addict to know if the substance they just purchased is a hot shot, as evidenced by the exponential uptick in fatal heroin overdoses between 1999 (3,036) and 2019 (14,019). Deaths by heroin overdose increased to more than 15,000 in 2016 through 2017. Drug abuse overdose deaths began declining in 2020, which authorities believe might be tied to a lack of carfentanil accessibility.

What compounds this issue is that hot shot symptoms can resemble those experienced by an addict after using unadulterated heroin, such as:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lack of awareness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Unable to breathe or to catch your breath
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Sleeping for extended periods of time

Someone with a strong tolerance of heroin surviving an accidental hot shot laced with carfentanil isn’t unheard of, but it requires a much greater dose of Naloxone to revive an overdose victim.

But with heroin overdose symptoms having such similarities, is it possible to know if a person is experiencing a carfentanil hot shot overdose?

What Are Some of the Signs of a Hot Shot Overdose?

If you suspect a loved one is actively overdosing, regardless of the substance or its amount, call 911 immediately.

In addition to the overdose symptoms listed above, hot shot overdose symptoms may also include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Weakened heartbeat
  • Shallow breaths
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Sedation (repeated tries can’t wake the person)

Heal From Addiction For Good

At Zinnia Health, our mission is to transform the lives of individuals, their friends and family, and the communities they call home through the empowerment of sobriety. A substance abuse treatment program uniquely tailored to the individual is the first step to healing ourselves, our neighbors, and our nation—for good.

Call our compassionate treatment professionals at (855) 430-9439 for more information.

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