The Killer That’s Hiding in Your Heroin
Need help? Call our 24/7 helpline. 855-933-3480

The Killer That’s Hiding in Your Heroin


Drug addicts tend to know at some level that the powder they’re snorting or shooting is probably not entirely pure. When your addiction is in the driver’s seat, you’ve got other things on your mind besides purity. But if you’re planning on picking up a bag of heroin any time soon, it might be cut with something even more deadly—something you may never even have heard of.

There’s a New Drug In Town

Nothing’s scarier than heroin, right? Wrong! Acetyl fentanyl—known on some streets as China White—is a synthetic opioid that’s five to 15 times as powerful as heroin. Due to its quasi-legal status, China White is on the rise and has been sneaking into the heroin supply, making a deadly impact.

Acetyl fentanyl is classified as an analog of regular fentanyl, a prescription painkiller that has claimed lives of its own. But since acetyl fentanyl isn’t medically recognized, it’s gone largely unregulated so far. As long as it’s labeled as “not for human consumption,” it’s perfectly legal to store, transport and sell—which makes it accessible and cheap. It’s a dealer’s dream—instead of diluting their dope with useless adulterants, this synthetic superdrug lets them cut costs without watering down the strength of their product.

Easier to Deal, Harder to Heal

As usual, what’s good for drug dealers is usually bad for most everyone else. A new article in the Annals of Emergency Medicine warns emergency medical workers to expect to see more and more overdoses that look heroin-induced but are in fact the result of acetyl fentanyl injection. EMTs, as well as many police officers, are trained to administer shots of the opioid antagonist naloxone as an antidote to heroin overdoses. But a standard dose of naloxone isn’t going to do squat against China White. It’s just too strong.

Some addicts consciously seek out acetyl fentanyl precisely because of its phenomenal power. And while I certainly can’t endorse that practice, the bigger danger looms for those who unknowingly inject China White that’s masquerading as heroin. As a general rule, drug dealers aren’t a particularly honest ilk, so unless you have access to a chemistry lab it can be truly impossible to know what exactly you’re letting loose on your bloodstream. A body that’s accustomed to a certain amount of heroin that suddenly gets hit with the equivalent of ten shots at once is going to experience some difficulties, to put it mildly.

Getting Strict on Synthetics

Policy-wise, it would make sense to establish stricter regulations on synthetic drug analogs like acetyl fentanyl that up until now have been flying under the radar of regulations. But it’s hard not to be cynical, knowing that the manufacturers can invent new variations of these drugs faster than the legal loopholes can close around the old ones. The ongoing battle against synthetic copycat drugs may be the next frontier of the drug war. One thing’s certain: it’s just one more reason not to shoot heroin.

Any Questions? Call Now To Speak to a Rehab Specialist
(855) 933-3480

About Author

Erica Larsen AKA Eren Harris blogs at Whitney Calls and Clean Bright Day. Their writing has also been published on Salon, Selfish, Violet Rising and YourTango. They live in Los Angeles with their husband and their enormous cat.