Flesh-Eating Bacteria Found in West Coast Black Tar Heroin

Black Tar Heroin
Black Tar Heroin (Image courtesy of the DEA.)

Drug addiction and drug abuse definitely don’t come without their consequences. Not only does drug addiction effectively destroy a user’s life and the lives of everyone around them, but getting high in today’s day and age has turned itself more into a game of Russian roulette. Addicts are literally rolling the dice and playing with their lives every time they decide to use drugs. I know I say this a lot, but getting high and using drugs years ago doesn’t even remotely compare to what the drug scene is in our society today. Drugs aren’t the same, drug dealing isn’t the same, and the results of drug use aren’t the same. It’s a whole different drug culture that shocked and awed the public when the addiction crisis started some twenty years ago, but now crazy headlines involving drugs rarely make anyone flinch.

As if using heroin wasn’t scary enough with all the deaths associated with fentanyl lacing, drug users now have to be wary of inadvertently contracting flesh-eating bacteria after pushing the plunger down.

According to the New York Times, in San Diego, California, there have been seven confirmed deaths over the last two months attributed to flesh-eating bacteria in black tar heroin. Public health officials are obviously aware of what’s going on and on the lookout for more cases to pop up. The highly contagious and infectious bacteria cause myonecrosis, which is a serious infection that destroys muscles in the body. Seven of the nine people who were admitted into county hospitals died after they all had gotten sick after shooting up black tar heroin.

“You just have to recognize it really early and have early surgery, and give antibiotics really quickly, and hope that not enough toxin has been produced to cause death.”
Paramedics are running in the hospital hallway

Medical director for the epidemiology program at the county health agency, Dr. Eric McDonald commented this was the most serious outbreak of flesh-eating bacteria that San Diego has seen in a decade. He also said, “You just have to recognize it really early and have early surgery, and give antibiotics really quickly, and hope that not enough toxin has been produced to cause death.”

This situation is definitely not one to be taken lightly, although most addicts out there think either it will never happen to them or they’re far enough into their addiction to not care if it does. Drug addiction completely rearranges a person’s survival priorities where getting high is number one on the list and safeguarding themselves from potential harm or death comes secondary, at best. As I said at the beginning of this article, these stories really aren’t shocking anymore. It’s become a norm to read stories like this, as if it’s just another regular occurrence of something related to the drug crisis. That’s exactly what it is. Just more bad news that no one is surprised by, yet I feel like we’re not doing enough to handle the issue. Believe you me, addicts are probably still lined up to get their hands on the potentially tainted tar heroin in San Diego, not paying any mind to the fact that they might be injecting themselves with a strong opiate and a deadly bacterium.

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Jason Good

Jason has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 10 years. Having been an addict himself he brings real-word experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Jason is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions. Jason is also the co-host of The Addiction Podcast—Point of No Return. You can follow Jason on Google+, Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.