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.
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 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.