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Tampa Criminal Lawyer > Blog > Drug Crimes > The Mostly Harmless Substances That Can Make Your Opioid Case Much Worse

The Mostly Harmless Substances That Can Make Your Opioid Case Much Worse


The scare campaigns of the War on Drugs included classroom lessons where teachers warned children that, as dangerous as illegal drugs could be, the unknown substances that drug dealers mixed with them could be even more dangerous.  For example, teachers in the 1980s would tell students that, instead of cocaine, the white powder that someone might want you to inhale at a party might be rat poison or finely ground broken glass.  More recently, fentanyl is the scariest drug most people can imagine; you might think you are buying methamphetamine, cocaine, or even weed, but if it contains even a tiny grain of fentanyl, it could be lethal.  In fact, some substances that are so safe to ingest on their own that the FDA does not even consider them controlled substances can cause dangerous interactions with opioids.  From a legal perspective, you can get in a lot of trouble for illegal possession of opioids, whether or not they are mixed with other substances.  Your legal problems get even more serious if someone who buys the drugs from you suffers a fatal overdose.  If you are facing charges for illegal possession of controlled substances, contact a Tampa drug crime lawyer.

How Over-the-Counter Antihistamines Can Increase the Risk of Opioid Overdose

The most hopeful news to emerge in the saga of the opioid epidemic is the widespread availability of naloxone, a drug which can quickly reverse the effects of opioids.  In other words, it is possible to ingest more than a lethal dose of fentanyl and then survive if you receive naloxone on time; that is how quickly and effectively it rescues patients from opioid-induced respiratory depression.

Naloxone only works on opioids, though, not on the many other drugs that can cause respiratory depression.  Thus, barbiturates, a once ubiquitous category of prescription pills, are rarely prescribed anymore, because the risk of respiratory depression is too high; before the 1980s, accidental overdoses on barbiturates were common.  In the era of fentanyl and widely available prescription opioids, xylazine, a veterinary tranquilizer, is a bigger cause of concern, whether it is mixed with opioids or people ingest xylazine mistakenly thinking that it is opioids.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that approximately 15 percent of fatal opioid overdoses since 2010 have also involved over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Claritin and Benadryl.  In some cases, the antihistamines were adulterants, but in other cases, the victims took antihistamines to treat their allergy symptoms or opioid-induced itching, and the overdose was the result of a drug interaction.  The CDC cautioned that naloxone is less effective when the patient has ingested antihistamines in addition to naloxone.

Contact Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Bryant Scriven

A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of illegal possession of opioids or of providing drugs to someone who suffered an overdose as a result of taking those drugs.  Contact Scriven Law in Tampa, Florida to schedule a consultation.



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