Chicago officials said heroin overdoses in the 72 hours leading into Friday totaled a whopping 74, more than twice as many during the same period last year.
"We suspect what is happening is the same thing that happened in 2006 when people were getting heroin that was cut with fentanyl, which is a very strong narcotic," Diane Hincks, a registered nurse and emergency room director at Mount Sinai, told The Chicago Tribune
After medical technicians said they suspected fentanyl, a pain-killer 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin, Chicago police identified two possible distribution points on the West Side for the powerful drug cocktail.
One victim who died of the fentanyl-laced heroin in Ohio was Sean O'Connor, 30. He was found dead at the bottom of a staircase on May 5 with both in his system.
"He used to tell me, 'They're putting stuff in the heroin, they're going to kill people because you don't know. You really don't know until you inject it, and you can tell it's different,'" said his mother, Cindy King-Anderson, 52.
Earlier this year, in March, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a nationwide alert about the new cocktail, which has been found in several states, The Associated Press reported
The DEA said that New Jersey saw 80 heroin deaths in the first six months of 2014, and that Pennsylvania saw 200 fentanyl-related deaths in one recent 15-month period alone.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Chief Mary Sheridan, head of the Fire Department's emergency medical services division, announced Friday that paramedics and other first responders have been using a single dose of Narcan, used as a heroin antidote, to stabilize victims where they are found. She said they would now be given extra doses to carry.
But now officials are finding that it's taking double and triple doses of Narcan over the course of a hospital stay to bring users out of their stupor.
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