Purple Heroin or Benzo Dope, Dangerous New Drug

As public health and law enforcement agencies focus on reducing fentanyl and opioids in the drug market, new drugs constantly appear to fill the demand. Purple heroin, or benzo dope, is the latest designer drug to make its way to the United States.

Purple heroin first appeared in Europe and Canada but has already been linked to at least one opioid overdose death in Van Buren County, Michigan, and is suspected in others. Arizona, Louisiana, and Minneapolis reported over 30 purple heroin-related deaths.

Drug tracking and health agencies expect purple heroin to be widespread in America soon.

What Is Purple Heroin?

Purple heroin, also called benzo dope, is one of the latest lethal drugs in the unregulated drug supply fueling the opioid and addiction crisis.

Calling it heroin isn’t technically accurate. When the Michigan State Police laboratory tested samples, they found no heroin. Instead, chemists found various drugs in the tested products, including fentanyl, acetaminophen, flualprazolam, buspirone, carfentanil, and brorphine.

Flualprazolam is a benzodiazepine tranquilizer, and buspirone is used to treat anxiety. Carfentanil should not be confused with fentanyl; it is 100 times more powerful and lethal. And brorphine is a powerful synthetic opioid, first discovered in 2018. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) warned health officials and law enforcement about its potency and spread, as it is 50 to 100 times more potent than fentanyl.

Brorphine and carfentanil are especially concerning because standard blood tests can’t detect them, making treating overdoses of purple heroin more complicated.

What Does Purple Heroin Look Like?

As the name suggests, purple heroin is usually dark purple; however, it is sometimes a lighter shade of purple, gray, or white. It comes as a fine powder or tiny crystals similar in texture to sea salt.

Public health officials are unsure if the purple color is added during production or is a byproduct of the ingredients used. One theory is that dealers add the coloring to differentiate the powder from cocaine, fentanyl, and other drugs they sell.

purple heroin

The Rise of Benzo Dope

There has been a crackdown on fentanyl production and distribution in the United States and internationally, forcing dealers to become more creative when they cut their drugs.

Enter benzo dope.

Benzodiazepine adulterated opioids are cheap to produce and hard to differentiate from regular heroin or fentanyl. Many synthetic ingredients used to create benzo dope are unregulated and widely available for purchase online.

People who think they are receiving a safe supply from their regular dealer won’t know they have benzo dope until it’s too late.

Another reason benzos gained popularity as a mixing agent is they can make the high last longer and lessen withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, like most unregulated chemistry, the science is imperfect and often results in unwanted side effects and fatal overdoses.

British Columbia, Canada, has seen the sharpest increase in benzodiazepine tainted opioids. Between April 2020 and April 2021, opioids testing positive for the presence of benzos rose from 5% to 25%.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) work closely with poison control centers and health care professionals to track overdose outbreaks. This helps them identify new symptoms and treatments and pinpoint geographical trends.

Public health officials believe that benzo dope and purple heroin are finding their way across the northern border of the United States. Michigan’s upper peninsula and Minnesota, which border Canada, have reported several fatal overdoses linked to purple heroin.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services encourages anyone who comes across or has information about benzo dope to contact the Michigan Poison Center, which is available 24 hours a day and is not connected with law enforcement.

The Dangers of Purple Heroin

Law enforcement agencies, health professionals, and harm reduction agencies are currently trying to gain as much knowledge about benzo dope as possible to prepare for emergencies as it gains popularity in the United States.

One of the most important things we know about benzo dope is that it does not react to the life-saving opioid reversal drug Narcan (naloxone). Narcan can reverse some of the opioid effects and restore breathing but will do nothing to stop the sedation caused by the benzos.

Benzo dope users and emergency responders have reported the most notable effects are prolonged loss of consciousness, respiratory depression, and blackouts or complete memory loss.

Unfortunately, it will take more overdoses, deaths, and studies to truly understand the long-term effects and dangers of benzo dope and purple heroin.

purple heroin overdose

Substance Abuse Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, Northridge Addiction Treatment Center can help you overcome addiction and start you on the path to a meaningful and lasting recovery.

Withdrawal from addiction to purple heroin or other opioids can cause dangerous and severe symptoms. At NATC, we understand the thought of withdrawal can be overwhelming, so we provide our residents with comfortable and safe medical detox with 24-hour medical care in our private treatment facility.

While staying with us, you will be surrounded by our supportive, licensed, and compassionate staff that custom tailors each resident’s treatment plan to address every aspect of your addiction and teach effective strategies to prevent relapse.

Our admissions specialists are eager to help you reclaim your life and achieve life-long recovery. Reach out today.

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