Cheaper and far more potent, the synthetic painkiller is becoming the drug of choice for some addicts — and is killing them more quickly.
LAWRENCE, Mass. — When Eddie Frasca was shooting up heroin, he occasionally sought out its more potent, lethal cousin, fentanyl.
“It was like playing Russian roulette, but I didn’t care,” said Mr. Frasca, 30, a carpenter and barber who said he had been clean for four months. When he heard that someone had overdosed or even died from fentanyl, he would hunt down that batch.
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“I’d say to myself, ‘I’m going to spend the least amount of money and get the best kind of high I can,’ ” he said.
Fentanyl, which looks like heroin, is a powerful synthetic painkiller that has been laced into heroin but is increasingly being sold by itself — often without the user’s knowledge. It is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin and up to 100 times more potent then morphine. A tiny bit can be fatal.
In some areas in New England, fentanyl is now killing more people than heroin. In New Hampshire, fentanyl alone killed 158 people last year; heroin killed 32. (Fentanyl was a factor in an additional 120 deaths; heroin contributed to an additional 56.)
“It sort of snuck up on us,” said Detective Capt. Robert P. Pistone of the Haverhill Police Department in Massachusetts. He said that a jump in deaths in 201by heroin, but that lab tests showed the culprit was fentanyl.
Continue reading “Heroin Yields to an Even Deadlier Cousin: Fentanyl”