INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana's highest health and law enforcement officials have a message for opioid addicts: That heroin you're shooting might not be heroin.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security issued a warning Thursday about the increasing prevalence of powerful, synthetic opioids like carfentanil that are being cut into other drugs like heroin.
Carfentail is a lab-manufactured opioid 10,000-times more powerful than morphine, and 100-times more powerful than fentanyl. It's sold legitimately under the brand name Wildnil as an anesthetic for elephants, but has "extreme toxicity" in humans.
A cocktail of heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil called "Gray Death" has already caused at least one fatal overdose in Indiana – prompting state officials to take action.
“Here's the bottom line," said Indiana State Police Supt. Doug Carter in a statement Thursday, “many people become addicted to opioids from what originally started as legitimate prescribed use, while others became addicted as a result of illicit use. addiction is addiction regardless of the path and this is not a problem we can - or should try - to arrest our way out of. And equally as troubling is the threat these substances are posing to the health and safety of public safety professionals.”
Carfentanil and other fentanyl-related compounds can pose a serious hazard to police and medical first responders as well. The drug can be absorbed through the skin or accidentally breathing in the powder, state officials warned.