Pinky: The Dangers Of Pink Heroin

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Pink heroin was once legal in all but four states. Unfortunately, this substance is extremely potent and, because of this, deadly. Find out more about what makes this innocuous-looking substance so dangerous, and what recovery options are available.

Pink Heroin

Pink heroin is a synthetic opioid that is up to 7.5 times stronger than opiates like morphine. The potency of the drug increases the risk of overdose, contributing to many opioid-related deaths.

While pink heroin is often marketed as a synthetic drug with a stronger version of heroin’s effects, it is important to note that this type of “heroin” poses a much higher risk to public health.

The risk associated with Pink is especially high due to the risk of opioid overdose, but the additives that often find their way into pink heroin make the drug even more dangerous.

What Is Pink Heroin?

“Pink heroin,” otherwise known as pink or U-47700, is a synthetic opioid that is structurally similar to fentanyl. Although pink is treated as a substitute for heroin, it is far more powerful.

As a result of the overdose deaths linked to legally-obtained pink heroin, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) permanently marked it a Schedule I narcotic in 2018.

In order for a substance to be classified as a Schedule I drug via the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) it must fulfill three requirements:

  • high potential for abuse
  • no current medical use for the substance
  • lack of safety for use under medical supervision

Prior to its scheduling, it was legal, unregulated, easily accessible and attainable due to its low cost.

Chemical Makeup

U-47700 has the chemical structure C16H22Cl2N20. It is one example of a designer drug, and it is often mixed with other substances, including fentanyl, carfentanil, MDMA, lactose, and more.

It is a selective mu-opioid agonist, 3,4-dichloro-N-[(1R,2R)-2-(dimethylamino)cyclohexyl]-N-methylbenzamide.

Street Names For Pink Heroin

Still considered a new drug, U-47700 goes by many names, some being “Pink,” “Pinky,” “Pink Elephant,” “U4” and “Pink Death”.

Where Does Pink Heroin Come From?

U-47700 was developed in the 1970s by chemists at the Upjohn pharmaceutical company. Their intent was to use U-47700 as a hospital-grade pain reliever.

U-47700 was never tested on humans and was never approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the patent remained accessible, allowing the drug to be recreated in 2015.

The pink heroin we see today likely comes from chemical labs in Eastern Europe and China where it is commonly mixed with other substances to produce a cheaper and stronger high.

While pink is extremely dangerous on its own, these combinations of multiple substances further increase the risk of fatal overdose.

Prior to scheduling, pink was easy to buy online. Now, It is an illegal substance in many countries, including Finland, China, and Sweden.

What Does Pink Heroin Look Like?

Pink heroin is regularly disguised as a prescription painkiller, but it may also be sold in powder form. Pink heroin powder can be white, but it is more likely to have a pink hue.

The drug is packaged and sold in a variety of ways depending on the form and the distributor. Small bags, envelopes, and other sealable containers are common.

When pink heroin is sold, it is often labeled as heroin. Alternatively, U-47700 may have a label that states the substance is for research purposes or not for human consumption.

How Is Pink Heroin Used?

There are several common methods of administration applied to pink heroin. Pink may be snorted, ingested, used as a suppository, inhaled, or injected.

The method of abuse will depend on the form of the drug and individual choice depending on the desired onset of action and duration of the high.

Pink heroin has also been found in other drug concoctions, such as grey death heroin.

Effects Of Pink Heroin

Like many opioids, pink heroin or U-47700 has a relaxing, euphoric effect that leads to a feeling of happiness and well-being in addition to providing pain relief.

Physical Effects Of Pink Heroin

Other physical effects of pink heroin include the following:

  • sedation
  • constipation
  • respiratory depression
  • pinpoint pupils
  • rectal bleeding
  • pulmonary edema
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • jaundice
  • fainting/loss of consciousness
  • lack of pain or physical sensation
  • impaired mobility
  • seizures
  • coma
  • death

Mental Effects Of Pink Heroin

Pink binds to opioid receptors in a similar way to other opioids. The neurological effects may mimic heroin’s effect on the brain.

When these drugs bind with opioid receptors, they increase dopamine levels in the brain. Those heightened levels trigger the midbrain reward systems, bringing about a feeling of pleasure.

This cascade of effects is what enables addiction. The brain rapidly becomes tolerant and eventually dependent upon the substance to function properly, causing cravings in its absence.

In addition to addiction, the mental effects of pink heroin may include the following:

  • nerve damage
  • psychosis
  • insomnia

Long-Term Effects Of Pink Heroin

Taking pink heroin repeatedly can also cause permanent kidney damage, liver injury, brain injury, nerve damage, and semi-permanent neurological changes.

Pink Heroin Vs. Pure Heroin

Pure heroin is a white powdery substance that is often snorted, injected, or smoked. Pure heroin can cause many similar effects to Pink, but Pink is not the same substance as pure heroin.

Despite being chemically unique, both drugs can cause:

  • itchiness
  • nausea
  • respiratory depression
  • reduced anxiety
  • sense of well-being
  • motor impairment

The major difference between U-47700 and pure heroin is that the synthetic opioid Pink is much stronger than pure heroin and was once much more accessible.

Synthetic opioids are already dangerous, but the strength of Pink makes it incredibly deadly. In comparison to other opioids, Pink is much harder to reverse and easier to overdose on.

Compared to pure heroin withdrawal, withdrawal can also occur more quickly with more intensity.

Dangers Of Abusing Pink Heroin

On its own, pink heroin is extremely potent. The drug is so caustic that it can actually irritate the skin if touched.

While Pink is sold as a “designer drug,” it may also be disguised as a prescription drug, prescription opioid, or a different illicit drug. As a result, it can be used unknowingly.

Pink heroin is dangerous enough, but the drug is often cut with chemicals, like carfentanil, which alters the drug’s toxicology and further increases the risk of overdose.

Pink Heroin In The News

Between the re-emergence of the drug in 2015 and November 2016, U-47700 had already been linked to over 40 deaths.

According to an article by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), 31 of these overdose deaths were in New York and another 10 were in North Carolina.

Five died in Wisconsin; eight died by drug overdose in Florida, and the numbers kept rising. The victims included teenagers as young as 13 years old.

To add to the growing fear around U-47700 in recent years, law enforcement in Ohio seized 500 counterfeit oxycodone tablets containing U-47700.

The first states in the United States to block the legal sale of pink heroin were Florida, Ohio, Wyoming, and Georgia. This ban was solidified at the federal level in 2018.

Treatment For Pink Heroin Abuse And Addiction

Synthetic heroin is dangerous, especially because the drug resists the most reliable rescue measures.

Naloxone (Narcan) is capable of reversing an overdose from U-47700. However, Pink is notoriously resistant to naloxone, which dramatically increases the risks associated with the drug.

It can take multiple doses of naloxone to bring someone back from the brink of a Pink overdose. In some cases, naloxone may not work at all.

Luckily, there are addiction treatment centers that can help you or your loved one if you have a drug addiction to pink heroin.

Addiction treatment can include inpatient or outpatient personalized treatment with options for medication-assisted treatment (MAT), detoxification, mental health care, and more.

Find Help For Pink Heroin Addiction Today

You can get help recovering from this synthetic opioid drug. Whether seeking behavioral health or detox from substance abuse, we are here to help. Call our helpline today.


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