By Rick Sallinger
DENVER (CBS4) – Family members of three heroin users believe their loved ones died recently from an overdose of a drug known as China White.
CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger spoke with one woman who survived after taking what she believes to be the same substance.
31-year-old Teresa Lee is lucky to be able to tell her story. She is not afraid to admit she has been a heroin user before the incident.
The other day she says she used a syringe and a spoon with a strain of heroin that was new to her.
“Just about every heroin user I’ve come in contact with since November has said ‘have you tried China White? you should try China White,'” Lee said.
She says her dealer claimed it was pure heroin and safer than others. She believes it was mixed with Fentanyl which is 50-100 times more powerful than heroin.
“That’s all he had so I went ahead and said ‘I will give it a try.’ And it nearly cost me my life,” she said.
Lee adds she only injected a very small amount and then passed out in her bedroom. Her parents called 911 while administering aid.
“It took them seven minutes. Seven of the longest minutes of my life,” Lee’s mother, Denise, said.
Lee said she is speaking out in hopes of preventing others from trying the drug.
“You should never have your own mother have to give you mouth to mouth. That is the last thing I ever thought would happen,” she said.
The Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center of Denver Health is familiar with China White.
“The bigger bang the better they think. But, they are not aware just a little bit can cause a death,” said Dr. Shireen Banerji, the clinical manager of the center, when asked why people would even try it.
The paramedics provided a double dose of Narcan. It counters the effects of an opioid overdose.
“It’s going to cost a lot of lives for a lot of people, and that’s what I am worried about it. It already has,” Lee said.
Lee urges opioid users to keep Narcan handy and to know they can call 911 without fear of criminal prosecution.
Toxicology tests on the those who died after taking the drug will determine if what they took was indeed what is known as China White.