New heroin pills can be deadly

Courtesy: Florida Attorney General's Office

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A disturbing trend you need to know about and 8 On Your Side is there for you with answers. The drug heroin can now be found in a pill form and that is a major concern for law enforcement, doctors, and of course, parents.

The pills look exactly like medication, like the painkiller Oxycodone.  Trouble is, though, they’re illegal and could be deadly.

If you looked at the pill, you probably wouldn’t know what it is but drug deals definitely do.

“I call myself a garbage head,” said Christopher Bettura.  “I would eat, smoke, whatever I could get my hands on.”

Bettura started using drugs when he was just 13 and in the end, he turned to heroin.  It got so bad, though, he tried to kill himself as showed News Channel 8 the scar underneath his chin where the bullet entered his head.

He used the heroin many think about when they conjure up images of the drug, like the crushed powder, the needle, the spoon, and the heat.

“It’s a new form of heroin,” said Dr. Jason Fields of DACCO, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Tampa.

The heroin powder is pressed into pills that look like your typical over-the-counter drug and who knows, experts wonder, what else is included.

News Channel 8 asked Dr. Fields about the possibility of death from taking the pills to which he answered, “It can be a very deadly thing.”

Fields says the crackdown on prescription opiates goes hand in hand with a major rise in heroin use and dealers are slipping through the cracks by putting it in pill form.

“Drug dealers are constantly changing how they deliver the drug,” Dr. Fields points out.

We asked one local father if the pills scared him.  “A little bit, yeah,” he responded.

As the dad of two-and-a-half-year-old twins, he’s worried about his two young girls.

“All you can do is try and teach your kids right from wrong,”he said.

And while heroin deaths are at record highs here in the Bay Area, Bettura and doctors agree that the number of people who overdose will no doubt go up.

“It’s so hard to say no or even worry that they might be it’s something that’s going to cause to overdose,” Bettura said.  “You don’t even think about it until it’s too late.  When you talk about pills, once you swallow it you can’t take it back.>

So News Channel 8 wanted to know how many people have taken the pills or are using them right now?

Experts say it’s too early to tell but they also say out of the more than 4 million people who have used heroin in one form or another, nearly 25 percent of them get hooked for some period of time.

So how can you tell the difference?  There aren’t too many ways.  The pills are blue or blue/green in color and they have a capital letter M on them.  For now, those are your only clues.

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