Mystery heroin leads to concerning overdoses in Waterbury

Waterbury police are investigating heroin overdose cases in which the bags of the drugs had the words "this or that" stamped on them. (Waterbury police/WFSB)

A number of overdoses in Waterbury over the last three days appear to be linked to a particular kind of heroin, according to police.

Police said the heroin is causing a big problem because of the potential overdose threat.

The type of heroin that's been showing up in these recent cases was distributed in wax paper bags with the words "this or that" stamped on them.

It's not clear what "this or that" means or what's exactly in the drugs to make them so potent.

“In the past few days, my understanding [of] the word on the street is there is a bad batch called 'This or That,'" said Dr. Ije Akunyili, emergency room director, Waterbury Hospital. "So it's hard for us when people come in to the emergency room [unable to] identify which specific type of opioids they’ve taken.”

Waterbury police have not released the exact number of patients; however, they said there have been numerous overdoses that were a result of the drugs.

Akunyili said while doctors can't identify precisely what is in the heroin, they can identify a growing usage in Waterbury that's cutting across all walks of life.

“College students, stay-at-home moms, working dads, babysitters while watching infants," he listed. "It’s really heartbreaking."

The investigation comes during a time when the heroin epidemic continues to get worse.

The state Department of Public Health said local emergency rooms have handled more than 3,000 overdoses between January and April. It also said the numbers only appear to be ticking upward.

Over that time, Hartford County saw the most overdoses with about 1,000. It was followed by New Haven County, which saw about 900.

The numbers work out to be an average of 180 suspected overdose cases a week in the state.

"It’s not a good thing," said John Charland, a recovering heroin addict. "It's a full blown epidemic."

Charland said he noticed the spiking issue in Waterbury and understood why it was happening. He said the city is gaining a reputation for the drug.

"To be honest with you, they’ve got the best dope around," he said. "Just from going to rehab and what not. I know people in Danbury that drive to Waterbury, people will drive from Bridgeport to Waterbury just because the quality is there.”

Waterbury police said anyone who comes in contact with heroin bags that say "this or that" should use extreme caution and give them a call.

Copyright 2018 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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