Going by his innocent face, it seems difficult to believe that Bruce Griggs – a 22-year-old from Akron in Ohio – could be responsible for en masse drug overdose, causing death of two persons and endangering lives of many others in Huntington, West Virginia. Belying his looks, the man admitted to the grave offense that might see him spending the prime of his youth behind the bars. Griggs, aka Ben or Benz, now faces 20 years in prison for the offense – selling heroin spiked with deadly opioids fentanyl and carfentanil, leading to as many as 26 cases of drug overdose in a day.
Among those who consumed the drugs, two died while many others required immediate medical attention. The examination of blood and urine samples revealed heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil. On January 9, 2017, Griggs pleaded guilty and his sentencing is expected on April 10, 2017. The case is being scrutinized as a part of the ongoing efforts by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illegal sale and misuse of prescription drugs and heroin.
The said incident took place on August 15, 2016. “Griggs went to the area of 914 Marcum Terrace in Huntington and sold heroin to a number of individuals. Several of those individuals provided information to the Huntington FBI Drug Task Force indicating that they bought what they believed to be heroin from someone they knew as ‘Benz’ or ‘Ben’,” a statement issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
As per the 2015 data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), out of more than 52,000 deaths from drug overdose, nearly 63 percent involved an opioid. According to it, the past five years have seen drug overdose deaths across the nation increase by 33 percent. Fentanyl remains the chief culprit driving increase in fatalities. As per the CDC, while fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine, carfentanil, which is used as an elephant tranquilizer, is 10,000 times stronger than morphine.
In September 2016, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had issued a public warning about the risks associated with carfentanil. The release also mentioned that improper handling of carfentanil, fentanyl, and fentanyl-related compounds have deadly consequences. According to the law enforcement and health authorities, fentanyl has now become a major cause behind overdose deaths.
While the worsening opioid crisis remains a major policy challenge for lawmakers, states have taken numerous steps to combat the epidemic. Some of these initiatives include expanding access to medically-assisted treatments; access to naloxone, an opioid reversal drug; and keeping a close eye on opioid prescriptions. At the national level, passing of the 21st Century Act by the Obama administration was a big step, ensuring allocation of $1 billion for the next two years in combating opioid epidemic throughout the nation by helping states improve drug abuse prevention and treatment initiatives.
Drug overdose has been a leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States. In addition to rise in prescription opioids, easy availability and affordability of synthetic opioids has made the situation worse.
If you know someone who is addicted to drugs or prescription painkillers, the 24/7 Recovery Helpline can help you find one of the best drug abuse treatment centers in the U.S. Call us at our 24/7 helpline 855-441-4405 or chat online with experts to know more about the drug rehab treatment centers in your vicinity that provide comprehensive treatment for drug and alcohol addiction through personalized care and programs.