Grey Death: Don’t Touch! Don’t Smell!

Grey Death: Don’t Touch! Don’t Smell!

 6/15/2017 |  Views:3,543 |  Posted by: Michelle Volk |  Reading Time: 2 Minutes, 42 Seconds |  Article Tags: 

A new opioid is on the street. It’s quickly spreading across the United States and has caused at least 60 deaths.  As a first responder, probation officer, field officer, or even counselor it is imperative that you understand the dangers that you may be faced with. While there is no set compound for this heinous drug, we do know some of the chemicals and other drugs that are used to formulate it. 

  •  U 47,700 (Street names- pink, Pinky, or U4) was scientifically manufactured opioid by Upjohn Pharmaceuticals. It was meant to be used in a laboratory setting for possible future medical use in place of morphine. As with many patents, the formula got into the wrong hands.
  • Carfentinil is an elephant tranquilizer. That alone should tell you to stay away. It is 1000 times more potent than Fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than Morphine.
  • Fentanyl is a drug used to treat pain in cancer patients and the like. It now has street market value due to its potency and may often be cut into heroin or the compounds listed above. The danger lies in that it depresses your breathing and heart rate.
  • Heroin is a Schedule 1 natural compound from the poppy plant. Heroin is made from the latex substance found in the plant.
  • Caffeine was found as one ingredient in a recent drug seizure in Hamilton County, OH. Drug creators mix caffeine into the formula to intensify the high and addiction. When added to the already toxic cocktail of drugs it can have ill effects.
  • Antihistamine, usually associated with allergies, is also a type of stimulant. Some say that it helps to ward off sickness and itchiness effect that opiates may cause.

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic usually used in animals. It is known on the street as Special K or Cat Valium. It is likened to an intense PCP high because of its hallucinogenic, “out of body or near death” experience.

A recent article released in Science Magazine (Vol. 355, Issue 6332) states “the opium poppy is no longer the starting point for many of the opiates on the street. The new compounds, often sold mixed with heroin, originate in illicit labs from China.” Why wait for the poppy plant to grow and be harvested when, you can have a synthesized version of the drug readily available?

Knowing these facts, grey death is coined as such due to its concrete like color and its ability to cause sudden death with minute amounts. Even dusting it off your shirt, inhaling it or picking something up that is laced with it can be deadly. So first responders, probation and community correction officers or any other person that may have potential exposure, as you are out in the field, please make sure that you are using universal precautions, keep Narcan in your emergency kit, and be cautious of your surroundings.


As you can see, this chart highlights all opioid deaths compared to heroin. It does not include any of the growing concern of grey death (it was discovered in 2016). People on the street may call it heroin, but you do not know what you are truly getting.

Michelle Volk

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