I've written in the past about the rash of deaths attributed to fentanyl overdoses. Michigan Wire has a round-up of similar phenomena in other cities. Health officials in various cities are trying to warn addicts, but that may in fact be counter-productive:
But to some drug users, the warnings are in fact an advertisement.
"When they hear about people OD-ing somewhere, they want to go there" to get the more potent drugs, said Larry, the Detroit heroin user.
That's what New Jersey officials found last month. "The drug addicts were actually looking for the drug, so what we did was actually counterproductive," said Marcus, the poison control director.
Like Larry, 37-year-old Latonja, of Detroit, said she would do her best to stay away from the tainted heroin by sticking to dealers she knows. However, she acknowledged it may be difficult, since users can never know for sure what they're buying.
"We're not analyzers when we're trying to shoot our dope," said Latonja, who also asked that her last name not be used. "We're like, 'OK, it's time to get happy.'"
The stories are best read in conjunction with Theodore Dalrymple's reflections on heroin addiction and crime. Dalrymple, a former prison doctor, writes:
Heroin doesn't hook people; rather, people hook heroin. It is quite untrue that withdrawal from heroin or other opiates is a serious business, so serious that it would justify or at least mitigate the commission of crimes such as mugging. Withdrawal effects from opiates are trivial, medically speaking (unlike those from alcohol, barbiturates or even, on occasion, benzodiazepines such as valium), and experiment demonstrates that they are largely, though not entirely, psychological in origin. Lurid descriptions in books and depictions in films exaggerate them à la De Quincey (and also Coleridge, who was a chronic self-dramatizer).