The opioid epidemic is infecting the wider world of drugs. 

The super powerful, addictive and deadly opioids fentanyl and carfentanil are killing thousands of people who are hooked on the warm, nodding high of these heroin-like drugs. 

But these drugs are now occasionally fucking with people who aren't trying to do opioids. People who are trying to feel the wavy beauty of LSD. Or the exuberant euphoria of cocaine. Or the energetic focus of meth. 

On acid tabs handed out at a concert this weekend in Chicago, fentanyl was found, according to a post on Facebook and conversations with two people who were there. Twelve people were hauled out of the show, a concert goer told Rooster, two are in critical condition. 

It scared Leah Bartolotta, who attended the Bassnectar concert, as security guards rushed by her escorting a sick person out.

It wasn't just that one show. Acid laced with fentanyl, which is a drug 50 times stronger than heroin, is a real thing, authorities confirm.

In Quebec late last month, cops said they seized blotter paper that looks like acid but which contains carfentanil. Carfentanil is a cousin of fentanyl, but 100 times as powerful. An amount the size of a coarse grain of salt can kill you.

"This is particularly concerning because this sample was on blotter containing the famous ‘Albert Hofmann Bicycle Ride' print, which has been used to distribute LSD for decades," says Dancesafe, a goer-trusted company that tests drugs on site at concerts and festivals. 

No one is known to have died from LSD laced with fentanyl. Yet.

But cocaine laced with fentanyl has, in fact, killed people.

"Thirty-, 40- and 50-year-olds are celebrating their big birthday with a line of cocaine and keeling over," NPR reported last week. "And regular cocaine users report feeling the expected rush and then falling asleep."

And, just this afternoon, Dancesafe reported that fentanyl was found in meth in Portland

Finding fentanyl in cocaine, meth or LSD is very rare, according to experts.  

It should stay rare, because it doesn't make any sense. Charts teach you which drugs enhance the feelings of other drugs, and therefore are cool to mix. (MDMA and mushrooms is a popular one.) But fentanyl/carfentanil plus cocaine/LSD is a baffling combination of drugs, a real pharmaceutical head-scratcher.

See, fentanyl is a downer. It slows your heart and your thinking. Cocaine speeds them up.

Fentanyl dims the world. LSD brightens it. 

It's like making someone a Cobb salad and then topping it with ninja throwing stars. Ninja throwing stars have their place — but in a Cobb salad they'll cut the shit out of your lip.

So why is this happening? People who know the drug scene have given Rooster a few theories.

  • It might be an accident, a mistake; drug labs aren't always the tidiest places, and the tiniest speck of carfentanil, misplaced, is like a wrecking ball.

  • It might be a shady's dealer's tactic to get folks hooked on drugs who aren't very savvy about drugs; put fent in your "LSD," maybe someone thinks LSD makes you feel happy, warm and dopey, and suddenly wants to do more of your "LSD."

  • It might just be deliberate, old school, misanthropic fuckery, happening for the same reason folks shoot up high schools, troll rape survivors on Twitter and take a shit in their neighbor's barbecue grill: they are motherless sociopaths.

As always, the advice is to know your drugs at least as well as you know your coffee or free-range chicken. Know your supplier, try to meet the chemist, test very small amounts before bathing your brain in unknown molecules, or use the darknet and read reviews.

Dancesafe recommends testing your drugs. They sell fentanyl test strips for as little as $2.

But, damn — who thought you'd have to test your LSD for fentanyl? 

[originally published April 4, 2018]