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New Warnings Issued: Gray Death Contributing to Overdoses Across the US

A disturbing trend has emerged in recent news—another, super-powerful opioid mixture has made its way onto the streets of the US.

The substance has been dubbed “Gray Death,” and its potency is lethal. According to a write-up by USA Today, overdoses of the drug have required several doses of Narcan for revival.

Characteristically comparable to carfentanil, Gray Death is an opioid compound that can consist of heroin and other synthetic substances. The drug has made waves in Cincinnati, where it has played a role in at least one overdose death.

Local Cincinnati paper Journal-News reported that the Gray Death compound is also similar in nature to U-47700, another opioid that made headlines last fall. Synthetic compounds such as these have increased in number for the past several years, as they are less expensive to produce.

These compounds are fact so potent that after an Ohio police officer unintentionally touched residue the substance that had rubbed off on his uniform, the officer overdosed. The officer was said to have immediately passed out after the substance was absorbed through his skin, as noted by CNN. Later reports have linked that particular instance to Gray Death.

Synthetic Opioids: A Rising Crisis

With new compounds emerging on what seems like a daily basis, the popularity—and wrath—of synthetic opioids has left law enforcement and medical personnel struggling to find answers.

Because synthetic opioids are often similar in appearance to non-synthetic ones, it is virtually impossible to see what a given drug could be laced with. In most cases, this information is discovered when it is too late—when an already-deadly substance has morphed into something even deadlier.

Overdose-related deaths in the past year have been staggering, and while totals can only be speculated at this point, officials note that the severity of the epidemic has continued to worsen. One Pennsylvania coroner, as interviewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, noted that he had already seen 2,000 overdose deaths in 2017, with, at one point, as many as 12 in one day.

Those numbers are for Pennsylvania alone.

As the upward trend in synthetic opioids continues, officials are struggling to keep up with the increased need for resources to combat an epidemic. Addiction treatment and the appropriate medical care will continue to be of the utmost importance as our nation grapples with this crisis of health and safety—a crisis to which no person is immune.


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