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Potent New Synthetic Opioid Circulating in Central Illinois

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(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
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This July 31, 2017, file photo shows discarded syringes in an open-air heroin market that has thrived for decades, slated for cleanup along train tracks a few miles outside Philadelphia.

A potent, hard-t0-detect snythetic opioid is circulating in central Illinois.

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said brorphine has killed just under 20 people nationwide this year. Since June, three of those deaths were in Peoria County alone.

"The potency of the brorphine is stronger than fentanyl," said Harwood. "It causes respiratory depression. It can also cause cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death."

Like fentanyl, brorphine is added to other drugs like heroin or cocaine to make them stronger. But unlike fentanyl, it isn't easily detectible.

"The problem with the brorphine is it's not detectible prior to use," Harwood said. "It's only detectible on a tox screen. And generally the tox screens aren't done until a person's post-mortem. That's the unfortunate thing. They don't know it's in there when they're using."

Harwood said people suffering from a substance abuse disorder should never use drugs alone, and always keep a supply of Narcan on hand.

UnityPlace offers addiction recovery services, and JOLT Harm Reduction offers harm reduction and drug awareness services to people currently suffering from a substance abuse disorder.

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