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Police Searching For Heroin That Caused Eight Overdoses In One Day

A man injects himself with heroin using a needle obtained from the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance, the nation’s largest needle-exchange program, in Seattle, Washington April 30, 2015. The People’s Harm Reduction Alliance launched its free meth pipe program, which is pioneering but illegal, in March after learning from its own survey that 80 percent of area meth users would be less likely to inject drugs if given access to pipes. The theory behind the Alliance’s handout program is that giving meth pipes to drug users may steer some away from needles, which are far riskier than smoking, especially if the user is sharing with another person infected with HIV or hepatitis C. There is little scientific evidence to support that claim, but the Alliance, a privately funded needle-swap group run by drug users, said it has distributed more than 1,000 pipes in Seattle in a matter of weeks and could expand to other cities in Washington state and Oregon. Opponents say giving away meth pipes discourages quitting while wasting resources on an untested scheme that will not solve a city-wide health problem. Picture taken April 30, 2015. REUTERS/David Ryder

Police are still searching for a bad batch of heroin linked to eight overdoses in less than 24 hours in a community in Indiana.

A rash of overdoses Thursday in LaPorte County sparked an investigation from police, who suspect the tainted supply of heroin was cut with fentanyl, a potent painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Two of the overdose victims died from the extremely powerful batch and officials are still concerned it may be floating around the community, reports WSBT.

One of the overdoses took place just a few blocks away from an elementary school, highlighting the risk to the community.

“It crosses all barriers,” Captain Mike Kellems with the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office, told WSBT. “It doesn’t care if you’re wealthy, it doesn’t care if you live in the city or which side of the railway tracks you live on, it’s going to be deadly.”

Heroin abuse is a growing problem in LaPorte County, which experienced at least 106 overdoses in 2016 related to opioids. Many of the addicts had to be revived with the overdose reversal drug Narcan. Local law enforcement officials are still attempting to track the tainted batch involved in the recent wave of overdoses back to the source so they can confirm the presence of fentanyl.

Police are reminding the public that even small quantities of fentanyl, which absorbs through the skin, can be deadly to anyone who comes into contact with it. The presence of the substance is causing a new problem for police conducting drug raids throughout the country. In the chaos of a major drug bust, the powder can go airborne, poisoning officers exposed. Police are now cautioned to avoid field-testing due to the risk of exposure.

States across the country are experiencing similar problems with random batches of heroin that lead to mass overdoses in a single day or over a week. Authorities believe many of these incidents are due to dealers street-testing a new cut of heroin.

Opioids claimed a record number of lives in 2015, eclipsing deaths in auto accidents and contributing to the first drop in U.S. life expectancy since 1993.

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