Fentanyl, a potent opioid already responsible for thousands of deaths nationwide, is increasingly showing up in drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine in California, officials say.
The white powder, a lethal substance 50 times stronger than heroin, is sometimes mixed into other opioids to produce a stronger high. Now its presence in non-opioids has public health experts worried that California may be staring down a new dimension of the deadly epidemic.
Officials suspect that three men who died in downtown Los Angeles late last month had snorted cocaine laced with fentanyl, an incident that has further galvanized fentanyl fears.
“We don’t know whether this is an anomaly, or whether it’s a bellwether of something that’s about to hit,” said UCLA professor Steve Shoptaw, who studies substance abuse.
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