Gray Death: Effects, Addiction, and Treatment

Opioid overdose rates in Florida increased from 54 per 100,000 in 2018, to 94 per 100,000 in 2020. The increasing popularity of the drug “gray death” has been shown to be a part of the problem.

Gray Death is a deadly drug combination that has been linked to an increasing number of fatal overdoses in the United States. It is said to be deadly with skin contact because it looks like concrete mixing powder, which was connected to fatal overdoses in Georgia, Alabama, and Ohio. The gray death cocktail contains various amounts of heroin, fentanyl, and U-47700 among other ingredients. These substances are often mixed with other illicit drugs or inert substances to create an ashy gray substance that can be smoked, injected, or taken orally. This deadly mixture can cause severe respiratory depression and overdose. 

What Is Gray Death?

There is no simple answer to what drugs are in Gray Death as it is often an unknown mix of illicit substances, particularly synthetic opioids, and other synthetic narcotics, that are combined and sold under that street name. The drug cocktail usually contains heroin, fentanyl, or U-47700 as its primary psychoactive ingredient. It is sometimes cut with other ingredients such as cocaine, amphetamines, or other synthetic designer drugs. Like other opioids, this combination has the look and consistency of concrete powder or small rocks, can be ingested by:

  • intravenous injection
  • crushed to a fine powder
  • snorted intranasally
  • smoked
  • tablet form to be taken orally.

Once it is ingested, it produces a euphoric feeling similar to other opioid-based narcotics.

Because this substance is made with whatever the illicit manufacturer has available and cut with cheaper synthetics or inert ingredients, Gray Death has a greater appeal to advanced addicts who are seeking a cheaper, more potent high. The drug has been increasing in popularity over the last decade, especially in impoverished regions of the rural southern United States. 

When people use gray death, they are often unaware of what substances they could ingest and therefore more likely to experience side effects or overdose on these unknowns.

Gray Death Side Effects 

The use of gray death is similar to that of other illegal drugs in gaining euphoric effects and intense feelings of pleasure. The use of this drug can pose serious health risks due to opioids potentially reducing breathing. An overdose can be caused by gray death, because of its unknown mixture. Some effects of the gray death drug can include the following:

  • Hollow breathing
  • Sluggish behavior
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Heart failure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea or vomiting

The side effects of gray death can be unpleasant or deadly. It is not surprising that this drug is dangerous, because it is made of so many drugs.

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Overdose and Addiction 

Because Gray Death is a mixture of several drugs, it is difficult to find out overall usage rates and how many overdoses they directly attributed to the drug. Two of the most common components of Gray Death, fentanyl and carfentanil—an elephant tranquilizer that is 100 times the potency of fentanyl­. This combination is are responsible for nearly 50 percent of the nation’s overdoses in 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Health. 

These substances often cause respiratory depression, leading to an overdose, coma, and even death. Because they often cut Gray Death with other unknown chemicals, overdose drugs such as Narcan may not always be effective in reversing the effects.

Finding Treatment for Opioid Abuse and Addiction

Gray Death use can quickly become an addiction that can cause long-term adverse effects. If you or someone you love is abusing Gray Death or other synthetic opioids, it might be time to seek medical attention.

Riverside Recovery of Tampa offers a full continuum of care for individuals struggling with opioid addiction, from medical detox to intensive outpatient. Our approach includes using evidence-based technology and mindful meditation in order to create an environment for their clients that encourages recovery. We made every aspect of the building with this goal in mind. From our facility views overlooking the Hillsborough River to specific lighting and floors, every detail supports healing within our walls while offering tranquility outside them as well.

To learn more about gray death or our opioid treatment options, contact our admissions team today.