Purple Heroin: Its Arrival and How We Fight Back

Written by: Shlomo Hoffman
Last Updated: May 29, 2023

A new illicit substance has arrived and the alarm bells are ringing.The stories don’t stop, and they are coming from every corner of the continent.  A relatively new and very deathly opiate cocktail is rearing its ugly head as a very unwelcome addition to the opioid epidemic wars.  Knowing the enemy is vital to drawing up a winning battle plan to fight it. Join Avenues Recovery, pioneers in addiction rehabilitation, as we discover the basics of purple heroin.

What is Purple Heroin?

Avenues Recovery explains the dangers of using purple heroin

Purple Heroin, also known as purple powder drug, purple rock drug and purple x drug,  is a mixture of acetaminophen (the active ingredient found in Tylenol), heroin and a newish drug called Brorphine.

In early August 2021, the DEA released a report sounding the alarm on Brorphine. A synthetic opioid first reported in scientific literature in 2018, it has since made its presence felt in the drug markets, primarily in the midwestern United States. Due to its recent discovery, it is not on the United States’ list of controlled substances, although it has no approved medical use.

In some cases, Purple Heroin has been found to contain Carfentanil . Not to be confused with Fentanyl and in fact a 100 more times potent than its similarly sounding counterpart, it is used by veterinarians to treat elephants. It is so powerful that a dose the size of a grain of salt can be fatal to human beings.

What Does Purple Heroin Mean?

Purple Heroin gets its name from its purple color, although it has also been reported to have a grey color. The purple color often indicates that the mixture contains more than heroin, and may contain no heroin at all.

How Does Purple Heroin Look and Taste?

The dangerous cocktail’s purplish coloring gave it its name, as well as the slang-shortened versions, “purp” and “purple”. Taste is difficult to discern. Carfentanil has no odor or taste and often people will have no idea they ingested it. This can lead to fatal overdoses.

It is commonly packaged as purple powder or crystals. A greyish color has been reported as well. Because it is still in the relatively early stages of proliferation, the picture hasn’t been clearly filled out, and more identifying characteristics will be sure to come in the near future.

Signs of Overdose from Purple Heroin

Purple Heroin can be fatal warns Avenues Recovery

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Sadly, overdosing on purple heroin is becoming more common. Some signs of overdose include:

• Blue lips or nails

• Dizziness and confusion

• Difficulty being woken up

• Choking, gurgling or snoring sounds

• Slow, weak or no breathing

• Drowsiness or difficulty staying awake

Narcan (Naloxone)

Like other opiates, quickly administering Narcan can be effective in overturning a purple heroin overdose. It is imperative for people caring for those struggling with addiction, as well as those in the substance treatment industry, to be knowledgeable in giving Narcan. Federal and local governments have made great strides in making the life-saving drug widespread and easily accessible. There are many resources available to learn about naloxone, where to procure it, and how to safely administer it. Below is a sampling.

  • More information on Narcan from Avenues Recovery can be found here
  • A basic primer on all things Naloxone from NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) is a good place to start and can be found here
  • A valuable landing spot for information on Naloxone can be found here.
  • Get Naloxone Now is an organization that directs people to Narcan access in their area as well as providing education on how to effectively administer it.
  • A training resource for Treatment Court professionals and families from the National Drug Court Institute (NDCI)

Substance Abuse Treatment for Purple Heroin

Purple Heroin is slowly taking its place in the opioid epidemic. With more than 20 fatalities recorded nationwide and an untold number of overdoses, it has experts in the field concerned. It is vital to stay informed and vigilant. If someone close to you is struggling with addiction, don’t stay quiet! Show them you care, urge them to consider substance abuse treatment, and help them find the place that can make a real difference. Contact us at Avenues Recovery to find out how we can help you with our personalized addiction treatment plans and our trademark empathy and compassion. There’s no need to live a life of addiction. Treatment works. See it work for you!

Since joining the Avenues Recovery content team, Shlomo has become a thought leader in the addiction field. His popular addiction podcast "Rubber Bands" is a must listen for anyone involved in Substance abuse treatment. He is a Seinfeld junkie, a recovering Twitter fanatic, and a sports expert. He enjoys milk shakes and beautiful views from rooftops.

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