JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida is leading the nation in overdose deaths with a new synthetic drug called eutylone.
Eutylone is a synthetic psychoactive bath salt. Just last year it was listed as the seventh most identified drug detected in over 8,000 cases.
News4JAX learned that 77% of deaths involving the toxic drug have traces of fentanyl, which has been linked to a record spike in overdoses across the country and in the Jacksonville area.
Florida’s eutylone-related overdoses make up more than 53% of the nation’s total, according to new data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC also reported that the drug has resulted in 182 deaths in Florida from January to June of 2021, and 77% of those eutylone-involved deaths involved illicitly manufactured fentanyl, cocaine or meth.
Authorities said they have detected it in drug seizures, arrests or undercover buys.
Several agencies and recovery centers are working to spread awareness about the drug in hopes to control the spread.
John Templeton Jr. is the president of Footprint Beachside Recovery, a recovery center based in the Tampa Bay area. He told News4JAX that unless you know where these drugs come from, you are gambling with your own life.
He also called the impact of the drug “really alarming.”
The CDC said from January to June of 2017, eutylone was found in less than 10 drug items like powders, capsules or tablets. However, from January to June 2021, it was found in more than 8,000 drug items, making it the seventh most identified drug in that time.
Eutylone has similar effects to cocaine, meth and ecstacy, according to the CDC.
With more drug products containing euthylone and eutylone-involved deaths, there is a need to watch out for new outbreaks of more synthetic drugs.
“It’s no surprise drug traffickers have been mixing synthetic drugs, to increase the potency, to increase profit and putting profit over lives,” Templeton said. “We do have to alarm the public. Let them know how truly deadly this is that if you show a graph of opioid deaths from three years ago or 10 years ago, it’s the trajectory is like nothing we’ve ever seen.”
The CDC said one way to guide prevention efforts is to understand if eutylone exposure is intended or unintended. It also said there should be more efforts to inform the public, especially people who use other drugs with eutylone, support testing of illicit drugs, and increase harm reduction strategies.