Overdose: man dies after vaping fentanyl

The opioid was bought illegally online and mixed by the victim


A Michigan man died of a fentanyl overdose last week after vaping the opioid mixed into e-liquid.

Police told MLive that the man had bought the drug online and mixed it into e-liquid himself. After taking a “number of hits” on the vaping device, he passed out. Police arrived while EMS were attempting to revive him, but he never regained consciousness.

The death happened just outside Alpena, MI, a small city on Lake Huron, about 250 miles north of Detroit. The opioid epidemic has reached into every part of the country, even quiet resort areas like northern Michigan.

Prescription-strength fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

There have been people buying and selling drugs on the dark web for years, and apparently some are sold intentionally for users to vape. Michelle Peace, a researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University, explained the practice to New Scientist last year. “The users believe they are experiencing better drug delivery,” says Peace. “Part of our work has been to understand why they think that is the case.”

Inhaling some substances can have a more powerful effect than ingesting or injecting. Peace says that vaping might make “already dangerous drugs even more dangerous.”

Fentanyl has killed thousands


Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used as a painkiller. In recent years, illegal production in Mexico and China has increased the drug’s availability, and it is often sold to heroin users who underestimate the drug’s strength.

Fentanyl has been responsible for thousands of fatal overdoses in recent years, and other opioids have added thousands more. Prescription-strength fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Carfentanil, a variant on fentanyl used as a sedative for large animals, is even more dangerous — at least 100 times more powerful than fentanyl. That too has found its way into the nation’s illegal drug supply.

Jim McDonald

I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.

  • William Miller

    So I guess a bunch of idiots trying to vape this crap throws all the blame on vaping right? If vaping is used as a smoking cessation device instead of a better way to “get high” it really does work. I was able to put an end to a 56 year smoking habit thanks to vaping. I’ll never go back to cigarettes and I’ll never give up vaping. I also enjoy flavors and I’m 64 years old which hardly makes me a “kid”.

    • Jim McDonald

      I don’t think vaping is any more responsible for this death than a pint glass is responsible for alcoholism. However, I’m sure click-hungry news sites won’r grasp that distinction.

      Congrats on quitting cigarettes! (BTW, I’m 57, so neither of us is a kid.)

    • Geo Thermal

      Rest assured the headlines will read, “Man Killed By Vaping” and you’ll have to read the fine print to get the details. They will pass up no opportunity to demonize vaping.

    • Katey

      To fair I do not vape because I needed to give up smoking. I vape cannabidiol which has no nicotine and no THC so you can not get high from it. It is legal and helps with some chronic health complaints I have. My mother who has MS especially has had some relief. So not everyone uses it give up smoking or get high! Well done on giving up smoking.

  • Paul Azadian

    Awesome news, Jim and Bill. I’m 47, so does that make me the kid?

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