'Gray Death' leads to drug overdoses in our area

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A warning about a potent drug that's making its way into our area. It's called "Gray Death".

Police say it's a combination of several different deadly opioids. They say people have overdosed on this drug in our area.

The drug has already lead to a record number of overdoses in states like Alabama, Georgia and Ohio.

The CDC says more than 33,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2015.

Police say dealers have started to mix heroin with synthetics or other forms of opioids to get a better high.

Lt. Nick Kaufman has been a medic with the Mishawaka Fire Department for five years. He says calls for heroin overdoses have become somewhat of a norm.

"We know what the signs of an opioid overdose is. That's the respiratory depression, there's other things where you can find a sign of illegal drug use or around the patient,” he said.

Police say there's a new drug cocktail drawing people in. "Gray Death" looks like cement and has a deadly mix of synthetic or prescription opiates combined with heroin, fentanyl, and carfentinal -- which can be used to tranquilize large animals.

"With these drugs that come out, the users are playing Russian Roulette every time they're using,” Kaufman said.

Police say the drug can even pose a serious risk to first responders who come in contact with it.

Dave Wells is the Commander of St. Joseph County's Drug Investigation Unit. He says a dangerous drug evolution has prompted a change in protocol.

"We're trying to get the message out to area police departments to make sure that you have Narcan with you,” Wells said. “Most of them do, but most of them carry Narcan for first responding victims. We now carry Narcan for us."

Wells says more people are overdosing after mixing different drugs.

"The big killer is the opioids that are mixed in with the heroin,” said Wells. “What it does is it suppresses your respiratory and nervous system to the point where you fall out and you nod off and then your body forgets to breathe for you. And then you go to sleep and die."

He says educating people about the dangers of drugs and stopping them from making their way here is the best way to lead the fight.

"The last thing we want to see is people dying and that's why this unit exists,” Wells said.

Police say people can buy synthetic opioids -- like carfentanil -- on the internet. They warn that people don't know what's in those drugs.

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