The hidden dangers of laced drugs

Hailey Chaikin

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MISA Testing
May 22, 2018
Photo courtesy of “12 Keys of Rehab”

Photo courtesy of “12 Keys of Rehab”

As drugs continue to be used more across the US, the dangers of laced drugs are rising as well. Laced drugs are illegally distributed substances that have unadvertised drugs added to them.This practice is done with the intention of bulking up the product or to sell cheaper, similar-looking drugs in the place of more expensive ones.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “[The] past-year use of illicit drugs other than marijuana [is] 5.8% among 8th graders, 9.4%among 10th graders, and 13.3% among 12th graders. However, there are bound to be some that are laced. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, in 2016, 37 percent of overdose deaths involved lacing in drugs.   


Locally, a new synthetic drug that is being laced with heroin is contributing to overdose deaths in Anne Arundel County, where last year two people died from the drug.

Baltimore County drug counselor Mike Gimbel discussed the growing popularity and strength of laced drugs in an interview with the Baltimore Sun.

“[Drug dealers are] still dealing and adding carfentanil which is again, a derivative of fentanyl, but this one is 10,000 times stronger than fentanyl,” Gimbel said.

The customers were attempting a dose of heroin, but unfortunately met their death due to carfentanil lacing.

In fact, on November 15, 2017, popular rapper Gustav Elijah Ahr, better known as his stage name, Lil Peep, died from a drug overdose. According to Tucson Police Department spokesperson Officer Chris Hawkins, police in Tucson are following several leads after receiving “multiple tips” that Peep, 21, might have been in possession of illegal prescription drugs laced with the potent opioid, fentanyl.

“Detectives are also looking into what kinds of drugs he ingested and what was in those drugs, especially since illegal prescription drugs often contain fentanyl, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see if there was some fentanyl in there,” Hawkins said to Billboard.

In more local news, Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency on March 1, 2017 in response to the escalating opioid crisis. Governor Hogan and Lt. Governor Rutherford made the announcement at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Emergency Operations Center in Reisterstown, MD. At the meeting Hogan claimed that carfentanil is just the latest in newer, deadlier drugs being sold to users without their knowledge.

“It is imperative that we raise awareness of just how deadly these drugs are,” Hogan said in a Facebook post.

A student at WJ who wishes to remain anonymous was interviewed about this issue.

“I’ve had friends in the past who have gotten sick because of a laced drug,” they said. “I don’t do it because I don’t know where it came from or what’s in it.”

An anonymous senior also commented. “I knew a girl once who was sold K2 spice, a synthetic replacement for marijuana. What happened is that she took a hit, felt dizzy so she stopped, then got into a car and started having a seizure. She had to go the hospital.”

On January 10 a case emerged in which three Maine students were accused of bringing marijuana-laced candies to school.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana can cause a variety of health issues, especially with edibles that may deliver very high levels of THC to users that can be poisonous or lead to serious injury.

“Edible marijuana can be many times more powerful that smoked pot. Its impacts can include short- and long-term memory loss, testicular cancer risk, increased blood pressure, heart rate and risk of psychosis,” the CDC said.

Laced drugs can have many consequences because users can never be sure what is being put into their bodies. Many of these drugs can have detrimental, if not fatal, consequences and with the added risk of being laced, they are almost always bad news.

“Any street drug can be laced with another drug, over-the-counter remedy or a chemical to create a different effect. Drugs are rarely, if ever, pure. You put your life on the line every time you buy and use drugs,” drug abuse rehabilitation website 12 Keys of Rehab states.