After a string of high-profile overdoses in Ohio and West Virginia, New Jersey has felt the cold hands of the heroin epidemic again, thanks to what people are calling Batman heroin. Dozens of overdoses were reported over the past week, adding to an already inflated triple-digit number for the past couple of weeks. Heroin has caused hundreds of overdoses within the last month, some of them fatal. Fortunately, responders generally have access to the antidote naloxone, also known as Narcan. One of the bigger problems is that people are using deadlier versions of heroin. Narcan can’t save everyone and sometimes requires a double dose to keep victims breathing.
Camden ambulances treated at least 50 overdoses in 5 days. The victims had each used a heroin packed with blue wax paper, stamped with a Batman logo. Officials don’t know why this brand is so problematic; they’re awaiting laboratory analysis. A DEA agent said it could just be more pure, instead of being laced with dangerous chemicals, as is common. He said heroin is often cut with substances like chalk, baby formula, and ground-up drywall. As unpleasant as they are, they dilute the heroin. Regular customers who suddenly receive heroin that hasn’t been cut with anything won’t expect the strength and purity. They can easily overdose.
There doesn’t seem to be a connection between the Batman heroin and the hundreds of overdoses in other areas. It might not even be from the Camden area. Drug dealers can receive heroin from anywhere, repackage it as their own, and sell it locally. Branding batches is a way to try reeling in repeat customers, but it also allows law enforcement to warn people away from certain types of heroin. It’s a bit of a gamble because some people will seek out the dangerous brands looking for a thrill. But officials hope that public information will save more lives.