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Pennsylvania has had 22 deaths this week as a result of addicts using a heroin and Fentanyl mixture.

This is not the first time the state has dealt with this lethal cocktail before. Last year, 50 people died from the same combination, and even lead to a public health warning last summer.

Last week alone, however, in one county, 13 people are thought to have died as a direct result of using the Fentanyl-laced heroin, leading some (among them, the Pittsburg medical examiner) to believe that this is a conscious, malicious act from a drug supplier. The death toll is now up to 22 since then.

“This is not accidental. Somebody is deliberately trying to make a big batch of fentanyl,” he said. “It is not an extraordinarily complex molecule to synthesize, and you can find instructions on the Internet. It does not take a sophisticated chemist to do this.”

Most people wonder why anyone would do such a thing. For many addicts, though, it is not a mystery.

The fact of the matter is addicts are always looking for the ultimate high. Hearing that a batch of something could be lethal was (for me, at least) in some ways an advertisement. Yes, it is sick and perverse, but when a person has relegated himself or herself to the life of an addict, life takes a different value—or rather, lack thereof. When depression itself and the madness of being an egomaniac with an inferiority complex dominate life to the point where they take a physical toll, in all honesty, the risk of dying is not much of a deterrent.

The sad irony is that if someone approached an addict and gave an honest pitch about what it could do, most addicts would still go for it. “Dude, you have to try this stuff, it is absolutely going to ruin your life. You’ll lose everything and everyone.”

Way back when, that would be a hell of a sales pitch to my group of friends and myself.

Therein lies the distinction between the addict/alcoholic brain and the normal person’s way of thinking. Addiction causes us to take insane risks. In some situations, that can be a really beneficial trait. When it comes to gambling with one’s own life, though, that is an entirely different story. It goes to show, however, that addiction and alcoholism are not moral issues—they are variations of how the brain is wired.

If you can survive addiction, it can actually do some good later in life—but that is the catch. You have to survive it, and few of us do. If you do, it can help maintain and grow passions, ambitions, compassion, empathy, understanding, and a whole slew of other traits that are all too often lacking in this world. However, we get those things because we have seen both sides of the human experience.

At the end of the day, though, addiction is a fatal disease. If you have it, it gets you. It is simply a matter of time. These new dangers are not going to change the fact that addicts have lost the choice in the matter long ago.

Heroin and Fentanyl

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