Fentanyl is still in town

By Melissa Martin

When you really want to know what’s going on in the illicit drug world in Ohio, who ya gonna call? People with drug addictions. People in recovery. Treatment providers. Law enforcement. Survey says you contact them all.

The Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network provides the Surveillance of Drug Abuse Trends report in the State of Ohio. OSAM Network consists of eight regions located in Akron- Canton, Athens, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown. Read more at www.mha.ohio.gov.

While heroin remains highly available throughout OSAM regions, respondents from the survey acknowledged that a lot of heroin contains fentanyl or is fentanyl substituted for heroin. Participants throughout OSAM regions continued to discuss the risk for overdose. They said: “[Drug dealers] don’t know how to regulate it (cut fentanyl into heroin). They don’t know how much to give out. You can give a little tiny line to somebody and it’ll put them down (they will overdose); You’re getting fentanyl and you don’t know what milligram it is; Some people don’t take the time to do like a warm up (tester of heroin) to see how it’s gonna affect them…. When you don’t use responsibly, or you’re careless about it … that’s why you’re seeing [overdose] happen so much.”

Current street jargon includes several terms for fentanyl. Throughout OSAM regions, participants continued to note “fetty” as the most common street name generally, followed by “fetty wop.” A participant reported hearing people say, “I want that fetty.” Reportedly, “gray reaper” is so named because of the usual color of the drug when mixed with heroin and because of its extreme potency which often leads to fatal overdose. Throughout regions, a gram of fentanyl sells for $80-180; 1/2 gram sells for $40-60; and 1/10 gram sells for $10-20. Additional fentanyl cuts mentioned included: baby formula, beef bouillon, carfentanil, cocaine, coffee creamer, head shop products, heroin, laxatives, methamphetamine, sleeping pills, table sugar and vitamins.

Scioto County is lumped into the Cincinnati Region. The following excerpts and information is from the June 2018 – January 2019 report for this region of Ohio.

Corroborating data indicated that fentanyl is highly available in the Cincinnati region. Hamilton County Coroner’s Office reported that 78 percent of the 202 drug- related deaths it recorded this reporting period involved fentanyl; Scioto County Coroner’s Office reported that 59 percent of the 34 drug-related deaths it recorded this reporting period involved fentanyl. In addition, Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) reported seizing 30.3 kilograms (66.7 lbs.) of fentanyl from this region during the past six months.

While the availability of heroin has remained high, participants reported that the availability of heroin has decreased during the past six months. Participants explained that heroin has been supplanted by a cheaper alternative, fentanyl. However, participants noted gray powdered heroin, believed to contain fentanyl, as the most available and popular heroin type in the region. Respondents discussed adulterants (aka “cuts”) that affect the quality of heroin and reported that the top cutting agent for the drug remains fentanyl. A participant shared, “They put brown sugar in [fentanyl] and act like it’s real heroin.” A treatment provider remarked, “It’s not even really heroin in this area … it’s mainly fentanyl.”

Reportedly, although the high produced from fentanyl does not last as long as the high produced by heroin, many users now prefer fentanyl for its potency over heroin. One participant remarked, “I know more people who just don’t want heroin, they want fentanyl.” Law enforcement also discussed fentanyl as an additive to other illicit drugs such as crack cocaine and methamphetamine. A treatment provider stated, “[Fentanyl] is in everything.”

Law enforcement in Cincinnati and Cleveland reported that heroin/fentanyl dealers market crack cocaine as a safeguard to opiate overdose. One law enforcement officer stated, “Drug dealers are telling people that in order not to overdose on fentanyl, use cocaine (a stimulant) to counter the effects of the depressant (fenatnyl).” Another participant commented, “[Crack]is being mixed with fentanyl, making it stronger and more addictive. That’s good for the ‘dope boy’ (drug dealer), but not for the users.”

The Adams, Lawrence, Scioto Counties Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board for Portsmouth is located at 919 7thSt. For more info visit www.adamhsals.org. Call the Crisis Center and 24 hour hotline at 740.354.1010.


By Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County. Contact her at [email protected]

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County. Contact her at [email protected]