DEA warns Heroin suppliers mixing in powerful narcotic

Dr. David O'Donnel, Indianapolis EMS (WTHR photo)
Heroin is potent and addictive all on its own, but the DEA warns that some suppliers are coupling heroin with another powerful narcotic: fentanyl.

"When people add fentanyl to a medication, there is a sense in which they're taking it and putting it on steroids," according to Scott Watson with Heartland Intervention. "The combination is suspected in overdose deaths across the country."

Often, the victims have no idea their heroin was mixed with the drug 100 times more powerful than morphine.

"The heroin epidemic is real," said Dr. David O'Donnel with Indianapolis EMS.

At the Statehouse Wednesday, lawmakers heard testimony on the effectiveness of last year's legislation allowing first responders to administer the heroin antidote Narcan in the field.

"IMPD officers have saved over 65 individuals using this medication," the doctor said.

Now, the push is on to expand the law to allow civilians to administer Narcan to loved ones who have overdosed.

"If Susan and I had Narcan in our possession, we could've first administered it when we first found Leland on the floor," testified a father who lost his son to overdose.

"Every life is important," added Brandon, a former addict. "Everyone deserves a second chance. And I have witnessed more friends than I can count on two hands be buried because of this evil drug."

Justin Phillips' son Aaron died of an overdose in 2013. She said there's confusion about the Narcan Bill, which is called "Aaron's Law."

"If you give someone permission to have no locks on access, that means you're giving them permission to use heroin again. And that is not the case at all."

But can Narcan work against a powerful combination of heroin and fentanyl? Watson says yes, but, "What will we get just out of using Narcan, or is there a longer-term treatment plan that comes with it?"