US fentanyl crisis: It's become a relief to only find heroin, says police officer

50 times more potent than heroin, the drug is killing people in the US on a daily basis

Christopher Hooton
Thursday 22 June 2017 14:00 BST

Ohio patrolman Chris Green was celebrating a sizeable drug bust with East Liverpool PD colleagues on 12 May when the captain told him he had something on the back of his shirt.

'Yeah, whatever,' Green thought, casually flicking it off.

In under two minutes, he had fallen into a door and later woke up in hospital being told by doctors he'd overdosed.

The powder he'd brushed off his shoulder (left over from the drug seizure) was fentanyl, a synthetic opioid up to 50 times more potent than heroin and so powerful it can create a high in users simply through contact with skin (it is often used medicinally through an arm patch).

It has become so popular in the US that finding users, many of them middle class, overdosing, passed out or dead around East Liverpool has become commonplace.

"It's nearly a daily basis [thing] and sometimes multiple times a day," Green told The New York Times' The Daily podcast.

"[Just] yesterday or the day before we responded to an overdose; broad daylight, middle of the sidewalk, guy just laying there dying.

"We have a huge issue with the whole drug epidemic. That's what we deal with more than anything else."

Fentanyl entered the East Liverpool community laced in its heroin supply, but it has quickly superseded the drug and now by far outstrips heroin use.

Given its high potential for overdose and the danger of contact high with the powder, heroin would be a preferable vice for police to recover by this point.

"It's almost a sign of relief to find just heroin or just cocaine or just crack," Green added to The Daily, "and that's sad to say."

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