We’ve talked before about how fentanyl makes its way into the black market, often contributing to unintentional overdose. Here’s an example, this time involving a professional athlete.
The death occurred in late June, and was determined to be accidental. Ferguson was 26 years old, with three small children under age five.
The team issued a statement after the ME’s report was released. “It would be inappropriate to comment… we’re supporting his family and his teammates as they mourn the tragic loss…”
I imagine the team is as tired of having to make such statements as we are of hearing them. Yet there’s no end in sight.
One question: Was the victim aware at the time of use that the cocaine he planned to ingest contained fentanyl? It’s quite possible he wasn’t — after all, most people don’t associate coke with the powerful synthetic opioid. On the other hand, he could have been fully aware of the possibility but decided to risk it. Foolish, yes, but far from rare.
And there is a history of users suffering a fatal overdose through deliberate attempts to mix the effects of cocaine, a stimulant, with a counteracting dose of opioids (depressant). It’s commonly known as ‘speedballing’. The comedian John Belushi is one example. The actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and River Phoenix would be two others. We could go on.
The theory is that because the stimulant wears off first, the opioid is left to exert a heightened impact on the central nervous system — sometimes causing the respiratory system to fail.
We’ve mentioned that fentanyl has also been discovered in samples of Oxycontin, Xanax, Adderall, and other common medications found in street drug seizures. A little fentanyl goes a long way in increasing the sample’s potency — that’s actually a selling point for a user with an elevated tolerance.
Something I hadn’t heard much about, however, is fentanyl found in ordinary marijuana. This report comes from Delaware, and involves the City of Salisbury, a waypoint on US Highway 13 – the 500 mile “back route” from North Carolina to Philadelphia. It’s long been favored by traffickers looking for a way to avoid Interstate 95 on their way north to sell their wares. Supposedly it’s less heavily policed than the Interstate.
Here’s the report from one of the local news stations.
“Apache (Fentanyl) is like roaches. Sooner or later, it gets into everything,” according to one anonymous online comment.