Marshall County Drug Task Force officers arrested a Guntersville man for cocaine distribution related to multiple overdoses.
Drug Task Force Commander John Siggers said between Feb. 25 and Feb. 27, five confirmed overdoses were reported in Marshall County, resulting in the deaths of two people.
Since this weekend, the task force has been investigating these overdoses.
On Monday, 24-year-old Alex Wayne Hollingsworth of Guntersville was arrested and charged with distributing cocaine. He also faces three counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.
Siggers believes it was a group of people who used cocaine recreationally and were unaware they were receiving cocaine with fentanyl added.
Fentanyl is sometimes deliberately mixed with cocaine.
“It gives the user a more intense high because they are 2 separate things,” Siggers said. “One is an upper and the other is a downer. It’s a back and forth. But it’s not just a more intense high. It’s much more dangerous. »
Dr. Victor Sparks of Marshall Medical Center North said fentanyl is a synthetic opioid with 100 times the potency of morphine.
The “overdose package,” as law enforcement called it, happened on Sunday morning, February 27.
It happened in more than one city. Siggers described it as performing in Guntersville, Albertville, and Boaz.
Sparks said an overdose of fentanyl disrupts the respiratory system or slows it down, as slowly as one or two breaths per minute. If it doesn’t kill the person instantly, it may kill their brain.
“Everybody’s talking because we got this little rash,” Sparks said. “But that’s nothing new. It’s been going on for years.”
Heroin is also sometimes mixed with fentanyl and can have the same effect in overdose.
Siggers said cocaine mixed with fentanyl is sometimes called “speedball.”
“In defense of these people, they weren’t looking to buy this,” Siggers said. “They were buying cocaine.”
Fentanyl is typically used as a pain management tool in critically ill patients. It can be used as a patch that delivers a sustained release dose or it can even be given intravenously in a hospital setting.
It’s not the kind of fentanyl used to cut cocaine.
“It’s in powder form and they order it from China,” Siggers said.
Sparks said he also came from other countries and sometimes entered the country along the Mexican border. He said he could have arrived in Mexico from another country before going to the United States.
He said drugs like fentanyl are very good for their intended use. It is when they are mistreated that they become dangerous.
“It’s extremely frustrating and extremely disheartening to see someone on these drugs, but especially a youngster who had so much potential and so many productive years ahead of him, all because of a lack of education,” he said. said Sparks.
“It’s not just an epidemic in our region, but in our country and in our world, caused by people selling this stuff for the dollar who doesn’t care,” he said.
Cocaine – an old drug you probably heard of back in the 1980s – seems like a kind of newly-returned designer drug for young people with money. Cocaine users are a different group of people from other drug users.