'Gray death' opioid combination looks like concrete, can kill with one dose

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It's called "gray death" -- a drug that looks like concrete and can kill you in just one dose.

The lethal drug mix has found its way to Ohio. Gray death is a combination of heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and a synthetic opioid. It's so strong, it can put you at risk even just by being absorbed through your skin.

Most of the time, users don't even know what's in it. It looks like a small, gray chunk of concrete, but "gray death" packs a powerful punch.

Paul Fitzpatrick is a recovering addict who now helps other people get sober. Cleveland 19 asked him why people even try something like gray death.

"'It's not going to happen to me.' You gotta understand from an addicted point of view, that this is a disease, a mental illness. Someone who is in the throes of addiction is not mentally sound," Fitzpatrick said.

He says drugs change your brain chemistry and leave you wanting more.

"If you understand the cycle of addiction and how it goes, you become more immune to the high and you chase for more, more, more," he said.

ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County CEO William Denihan worries gray death will kill a lot more people before they understand how deadly it is.

"What we'd like it to say is 'You use me, you die' because that's the reality," Denihan said. "It's a horrible death. If it can hurt you by touching it, imagine what happens when it gets inside you."

Fitzpatrick knows a lot of people don't have sympathy for addicts. He says in conversation, some people have not been concerned about finding solutions, instead they suggest letting addicts die. To that, Fitzpatrick says he understands the frustration, but asks for those people to look at it from a mental health point of view.

"If someone was mentally ill, would you say they should die?" he said.

Drug dealers are making it worse by selling mixes like gray death to people as if they are guinea pigs -- seeing how far they can push the next high.

"There are sinister people, and until there's accountability it's going to keep escalating," Fitzpatrick said.

So far most cases of gray death in Ohio have been near Cincinnati. In Summit County, the medical examiner says they've seen that combination of drugs, but they couldn't give us an exact number on overdoses. Cleveland 19 checked with Cuyahoga, Lake and Lorain counties, but they have not seen any cases yet.

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