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U-4 linked to three Maricopa drug overdose deaths, says DEA
Posted in Family, Substance Abuse - 0 Comments

“Your kid can be sitting next to you on a couch working his iPhone and ordering ‘Pink’ from a website in China for $35.” These are the strong words of caution from Arizona Drug Enforcement Agency’s special agent Doug Coleman.

The DEA on Tuesday issued an alert that three Maricopa county residents died recently from overdoses on drug cocktail that comprised synthetic opioid U-47700, also known as Pink or U-4.

Sovereign Health first reported on the dangers of U-47700 with the accidental fatal overdose of a California female college student. Those with a history of regular substance abuse as well as the first-time U-4 users have been succumbing to the synthetic sedative’s lethal side effects, which include rapid respiratory depression.

The Dangers Surrounding U-47700

U-4 is a synthetic opioid and is quantifiably more potent and dangerous than morphine. In November last year, the DEA classified U-4 as a Schedule I drug, listing it as a psychoactive substance with no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. The drug skims through legal loopholes since it never progressed past a formula patent “for research purposes only” and has never been tested on humans.

Most users report seeking out the substance partly because of its novelty. The drug is so new that it doesn’t raise a red flag on probation, emergency medical care or autopsy toxicology screens. Some users explain that U-4 has a short high and a mild comedown.

Isobel Heim, mother of the California student who overdosed on U-4 says her daughter might have turned to it in distress, when other “downer” drugs did not have the expected result.

“I can only guess she was taking [an upper drug] to stay up and study, then marijuana to wind down, and when that didn’t work, the U-4 to relax, but I don’t know. I don’t know anything about these things.”

Razing Arizona

According to the state Department of Health Services, one person dies every day due to synthetic opioid overdose in Arizona. In one year, fentanyl overdoses nearly doubled and heroin overdoses more than tripled in Maricopa county, the Arizona Daily Star reports. Opioid deaths in Arizona are increasing rapidly, along with the rest of the country. Unfortunately, it is mostly the youngsters who are the victims of the menace, as parents find themselves fighting a losing battle as they try to dispel the allure of synthetic downers within their family.

The advent of these ever-evolving substances makes it difficult for parents to keep a track of what their children might be consuming and warn them against it. But there is hope for adults who may feel hard-pressed between a substance abuse past of their own and a child’s drug abuse.

“Don’t hide your history; on the contrary, use it as a testimony. Stay true to your voice and style but be crystal clear about the subtle phases of addiction.”

Sovereign Health of Chandler provides both residential treatment and practical tools for women who have traumatic mental distress that might have manifested in a mental disorder, addiction or co-occurring issues. We offer family-flexible options for recovery so each woman has tailor-fit rehabilitation from trauma-informed experts, to secure lasting wellness.

You can follow news developments on U-4 on our Twitter page and track the discussion by searching for hashtags #StopU4 and #SovTalk.

About the author

Kristin Currin-Sheehan is a Sovereign Health writer and her intriguing storytelling has been featured with Sovereign Health, KPBS TV/FM, FOX5 News in San Diego and NPR. Her illustrative and relatable approach to digital and broadcast news bridges businesses and consumers, news and community. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author at

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