New synthetic opioids like “Pinky” linked to overdose
California is leading the United States in rates of opioid abuse, and a dangerous new trend is leaving law enforcement officials and drug task forces grappling to respond to an influx of illicit substances they have only just begun to understand.
Communities in San Francisco county, and across the nation, have put new measures in place to limit access to legal prescription painkillers because of the rise in the abuse of these substances. And while programs have been put in place that encourage doctors to prescribe less prescription painkillers and to monitor patients who may be engaging in drug-seeking behavior, there has been an unfortunate downside to these new measures.
When an opioid-dependent individual can no longer obtain his or her drug of choice through legal means, he or she will often turn to illegal drugs such as heroin, whose dangerous side effects are commonly known. And sadly, drugs like heroin and other synthetic opioids can often be purchased on the street for a lower price than authentic prescription drugs, making them more enticing to some.
Law enforcement has been dealing with the rise in heroin abuse for some time, but a new trend in drug abuse is now being seen. Chinese drug manufacturers are operating online marketplaces where individuals in San Francisco and throughout the world can purchase synthetic opioids and have them shipped directly to their homes, making the need to purchase illegal drugs in person a thing of the past.
A new wave of unregulated substances
One of the most horrific outcomes of this new type of drug trade has been the influx of what has been dubbed a “research chemical” simply known as “pink” or “pinky” into the United States. The nickname for the substance U-47700 does not come from its color (unless it has been dyed), but refers to the habit of some narcotic users of growing out their pinky nail to use as a means of snorting this toxic white powder.
This dangerous substance has been responsible for the deaths of several young people lately, including two adolescent boys in Utah who ordered the substance online. However, in light of the fact that the drug was classified as a research chemical until recent overdoses prompted a reclassification, pinky was considered a legal substance at the time the boys ordered the drug from China.
Drugs of unknown origins
The strength of these new opioids, many of which are fentanyl derivatives, cannot be determined by those who ingest them. They are completely unregulated, and there is no labeling or classification system, and many of these drugs are being mislabeled as more common substances such as OxyContin. Therefore, those individuals who are using them are essentially playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette with their lives.
Although the current trend in opioid abuse is indeed dire, fortunately, help is available in the form of treatment centers in the San Francisco area and across California where men and women who are suffering from a substance use disorder can get the help they need. If you or a loved one has been afflicted with an addiction to opioids, research options for care in your area today.