'Gray Death,' the new, dangerous drug combo

A new and dangerous drug combination underlining the ever-changing face of the opioid epidemic.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There have already been reports of 'gray death,' a new and dangerous opioid combination in several states, including Ohio and Georgia.

Some believe it has just made it to North Carolina.

Addiction specialists say some recent cases they have seen has been alarming. Craig Halford, the director and president of First Contact Addiction Ministries in Asheville, says the drugs are exponentially more powerful in some recent cases he’s seen than before.

He tells NBC Charlotte’s Ariel Plasencia that he believes they are examples of gray death, which looks like concrete.

Gray Death is made up of heroin, fentanyl and carentanil -- which is often used to tranquilize large animals like elephants -- and a synthetic opioid.

"We know that people who are using heroin, they're always seeking that higher, or that next high," says Anuvia Prevention Specialist Matilene Osho.

"We're seeing a definite uptick in the number of opioid addicts coming through our doors," says Dilworth Center CEO Charles Odell.

Local experts say the elephant tranquilizer often found in gray death is so potent, you can overdose by just touching it.

"A substance the size of a grain of sand can kill you,” says Odell. "Fentanyl is roughly 50 times stronger than heroin and carfentanil is roughly 100 times stronger than fentanyl."

But Odell says the drugs themselves are not new.

"Gray death to me is kind of a sensationalistic term to describe stuff that's not only out there," says Odell. "But has been out there for some time."

"What we do see with the rise of heroin is that people are mixing or lacing heroin with fentanyl and sometimes carfentanil," Osho says. "So that's already taking place in the Charlotte area."

Odell says that dealers are adding fentanyl and carfentanil to heroin because they are cheaper and easier to get.

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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