MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) - A new strand of heroin, called Gray Death, is moving closer to South Carolina, and first responders say even Narcan may not be enough to save someone overdosing on the drug.
First responders and drug enforcement agents in Horry County say they're worried about new strands of heroin and fentanyl. They say the drugs that are being sold on the streets now are getting stronger and stronger. What use to take one dose of Narcan, the drug used to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose, is now taking four to save someone's life.
"The epidemic, if you will, is still here," says Horry County Fire Rescue Chief Joey Tanner. "We'll just continue to respond and use this treatment as best we can."
EMS crews and police have equipped their vehicles with Narcan to save someone from an overdose, but the DEA says new drugs called carfentanyl, acryl fentanyl, and the most deadly of all - a combination of elephant tranquilizers, fentanyl, and heroin, are hard to fight off with the lifesaving medicine. The fatal combination of elephant tranquilizers, fentanyl, and heroin has earned the name "Gray Death."
"Anything that's resistant to the treatment we're going to be able to give really concerns us," voices Chief Tanner. "So, we'll continue working with DHEC and those folks around us to see what we can do to address that."
Patrick Apel, resident DEA Agent In Charge, says acryl fentanyl was being sold in Myrtle Beach, but the dealers are now behind bars. Thankfully, they haven't found Gray Death in Horry County.
The image to the right, used courtesy of Paige Sutherland, NHPR, indicates the lethal amount of each of the drugs on their own.
The Gray Death combines the deadly trio, drastically increasing the likelihood that a user will not survive the high.
"If it did make its way here to our area, I think we would see a significant increase and potential deaths in a very short period of time," says Apel.
The news of a more lethal strand of heroin comes as Chief Joseph Hill with Horry County Police says he's finally seeing a slowdown in heroin-related deaths.
"As I look up my reports every morning, I don't see the amount of deaths," says Hill. "For a while there, it was one or two a night, every night. Now, I'm seeing one a week, maybe every two weeks."
Chief Hill says he's not any more worried about the Narcan resistant strands of heroin than he is the epidemic as a whole, and that the feds have got to step in because Horry County won't be able to fight this alone.
"Bottom line is, I keep going back to this, they need treatment centers, residential treatment centers. Horry County can't afford it. The feds have got to step in," urges Chief Hill.
Apel confirms the Gray Death drug has been found in Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio. His fear is that the drug is making its way into the Carolinas.