drug cutting dangers

What Is Drug Cutting, and Why Is It Dangerous?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

The drug problem in California’s Central Valley is more than an individual one. It starts with the behaviors of a single person, but the ramifications move out far and wide from there. Family and friends are impacted and neighbors and community groups. Indeed, the social impact expands at a rapid pace. We all have a place in the story. And we each have the option to contribute to a solution, encourage its progression, or ignore it altogether. When we talk about the dangers of drug cutting, this is a topic that affects individuals, but moves out to our families and our neighbors.

Make A Difference

As you might imagine, no one sets out to be addicted to drugs. It happens for many different reasons and under just as many circumstances. Without placing blame on anyone specific we can site some of the endemic dangers involved in drug abuse in order to understand the broader topics and to push the balance of people willing to make a difference in society.

It is routine for illegal drug dealers to add fillers to the drugs they sell; this is known as drug cutting. Drug cutting involves mixing a pure drug like heroin or cocaine with an inactive ingredient or an over the counter drug. And this contributes to myriad dangers across the board.

Drugs that have been cut are even more dangerous than the pure form because they are unpredictable. The seriousness of the danger is shown by the mounting death toll from substance abuse. The Chicago Tribune reports that substance abuse took 52,404 lives in 2015 in the United States. Deaths from drug overdoses are rising, due to increases in heroin and opioid abuse.

Prevalence of Drug Cutting

Addicts learn to expect the drugs they buy to be cut. Johns Hopkins University reports that heroin may contain as little as 3 percent heroin or as much as 99 percent of the drug.    Other sources say that 39 percent of the cocaine contains less than 10 percent actual cocaine.

Profit is the motive for drug dealers to cut drugs. For instance, heroin in its pure form may be a white powder. Sometimes it appears clear or as a black substance. In any case, it is easy to add a filler that is not readily detectable. The dealer then sells the mixture as heroin, increasing profit. In recent years, some heroin addicts have been cutting the drug on their own with a powerful opioid called fentanyl to increase the effects.

Agents Used to Cut Drugs

Dealers don’t particularly care what they use to cut drugs. They simply choose something that is inexpensive and hard to detect. Cutting agents commonly used for heroin are talcum power, starch, sugar, and baking soda. Caffeine is sometimes used as a cutting agent. Drug dealers also use common over-the-counter drugs as cutting agents. Examples include benzocaine, lidocaine, and even aspirin.

Health Risks of Cutting Drugs

There is no way a user can determine the percentage of purity of a drug. This makes the risk of an overdose more likely because the substance may be stronger than they realize.

As well, stimulants like caffeine may mask overdose symptoms. Substances like sugar or starch may not dissolve entirely. This creates a risk of blockages in the bloodstream. These blockages can cause heart disease, heart infections, and heart attacks. Blockages in the brain and liver damage are also dangers. Fentanyl is a central nervous system depressant and may cause slow breathing that can be fatal. The user might stop breathing entirely.

Making a Difference

This is all to remind us of something we already know: drug addiction is dangerous. If your loved one is currently addicted to substances, there are many reasons to take action.

But what can you do? If you want to make a difference, education is a good place to start. Learning about these kinds of issues is important. But it is crucial to be ready with a solution for someone in need.

Connect With First Steps in Fresno County

First Steps Recovery is part of the solution for California’s Central Valley. We specialize in making a difference in the life of every resident we see. Our evidence-based treatment approach has lasting results. If you need help getting free from a drug addiction or if you know someone in your community or family who needs help, please call us. We can offer guidance to give you hope and help you understand what your options are. Make a difference in your neighborhood and call us today, 844-489-0836.

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