close up photo of orange petaled flower

The Fentanyl Conundrum

grey and brown poppy buds

Picking up the daily rags today, or rather clicking on them and bringing them up on my screen, (such as life is amongst the modern scourge of this electronic world with its immediate gratification and lack of tactile paper pleasures), locked away as we are in our quarantine bubbles, not daring to bring a dirty paper newspaper into our sterilized and sanitized homes, I was confronted by the Daily Inari San Can’t Not k(Now) shock horror ravings about how fentanyl tainted cocaine had killed the comedian Fuquan Johnson, aged 43, of Los Angeles; Enrico Colangeli, also a comedian, 48, of Medford, Massachusetts; and Natalie Williamson, 33, of Los Angeles. Kate Quigley, comedienne and actress was also reportedly injured by overdose of fentanyl, after snorting some coke, in Los Angeles at a houseparty, in the same incident that killed three of her fellow partiers.

The last thing anyone expects in their cocaine, that Queen of stimulants, is down and dirty, synthetic opiate, Fentanyl. If you wanna go up, you don’t want something in your blow that sends you down. Speedballing – mixing opiates and coke, is hardly a party kinda drug choice. Who knows what happened, whether the victims of the fentanyl fell foul of tainted coke, or tainted smack speedballing with their white light hardly matters when three people are dead, and one critically injured. The fact this made the news at all is only due to the fact that a couple of the victims were more than passingly famous. Fentanyl brings death knocking at the door on a daily basis to this entire country. 93,000 in 2020, countrywide. San Francisco had twice the amount of deaths from fentanyl overdose as it did from covid in 2020, according to Assemblyman Kevin Kiley. Fentanyl kills. It is unsurvivable as a habit. Anyone who is doing street opiates, including those who think they are doing heroin, oxy and morphine, are all doing mainly fentanyl. Those pressed conterfeit Oxy 50s? Fent. Percs? Fent. Bars – xanax has been fent on the street for years now. No one except those with legitimate scripts are getting what they actually want. There is no heroin left in the USA for the likes of the 93,000 that died of overdoses in 2020.

It is not just heroin which has been usurped by the evil Fent. Any street drugs are seen as fair game for idiot dealers who cut their coke, speed, and whatever with cheap easy to manufacture fentanyl. Fent doesn’t have to be grown – it is made from precursors like meth is cooked up in a lab. Think Walter White, but headed south not north. Poppies have to be grown. It takes acres and acres of poppies, which are notoriously delicate and fussy to grow, to make any kind of quantity of heroin. Then the pods need to be slashed, and the latex dabbed off onto cotton rags, which are dried, then soaked and boiled. Turning the raw opium latex into usable diamorphine is an art not a science. Allegedly. It is time, effort and hard work. Fentanyl is cheap precursors from China, and a talented chemist with some serious protective gear on. A tiny amount of fentanyl can be fatal.

That is not to say that fent is dangerous to touch or be in the same room as. That cop pretending to OD on film after just touching fentanyl was laughable. It can’t seep through skin. It is dull and dangerous. The fent test strips that the methadone and harm reduction clinics give out are basically useless – all heroin tests positive for fentanyl. None of it is ‘just’ junk. As for testing cocaine, for crying out loud! That shit is expensive! What cocaine user wants to waste drugs testing their stimulants for synthetic opiates!

I somewhat accidentally did fent twice. Both times in the form of pressed pills, fake oxys, fake xannies, fake percs, fake prescription opiates. It has absolutely no warmth. No euphoric high. Might as well count to five and wait to pass out. Might as well take a sleeping pill. Both times I was so sick after that I was scared. Heroin is dead. Fentanyl killed the heroin junkie. Junkies have two choices: clean up or die.

Heroin is more euphoric, warmer, more creative than the mechanical knock out powder that is fentanyl. Junkies used to bitch about getting black tar on the west coast, that dirty sticky vein killing vinegar smelling Mexican boot scrapings that even Kieth Richards turned his nose up at (in his autobiography, Life, detailing his drug use with his friend, Gram Parsons). The east coast ‘china white’ – more highly processed, stronger, purer, the “Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz” of smack, compared to the daisy and magic mushroom painted jalopy of west coast tar. I must make amends. I used to rag on the west coast dope.

Nowadays if I found any pure tar my sobriety would be sorely in jeopardy. I know quite a few junkies, and none of them actually want or like fentanyl. There is nothing in it for them. It is high risk, low reward. No euphoria, no warm fuzzies mother’s milk drug that kept the likes of Danny Whitten, Eric Clapton, Janis Joplin and Dylan, from running out of ideas and stamina. It might be fashionable to claim that heroin does nothing for the creative process. Burroughs started it, by saying he could never have written Junkie if he was still on the junk. The fact is, so many artists and musicians have found their muse in the latex that seeps out of the poppy pods and onto the page.

Stand-ups do coke is hardly a story. Stand up comedians are the bodily personification of cocaine. Look at Belushi and Williams. Immense talents, huge coca energy, massive addictions to the good ole Peruvian marching powder. Cocaine and L.A. is like peaches and cream, apples and pie. Weed and a cup of tea. Gin and tonic. What is a story is a party ends up with three dead, and one critical overdose because the dope has fentanyl in it where fentanyl has no place to be.

It is a war on the artists and the free thinkers. The war on drugs is being won by making sure all the junkies end up pushing up daisies if they don’t quit. I am by far not the only ex ‘head that is languishing on weed due to sheer fear of death by fentanyl, or it’s elephant tranq cousin, cartefentanyl. It is get off the train, get on the wagon and accept there are no drugs, or else accept that life is not going to continue.

The LSD is all DMT, the crank is all meth, the heroin is all fent. The benzos are all fent. Long gone are the days of quualudes and cross tops, the little drugs that made the world go around for artists and writers and musicians and freaks of every persuasion. People don’t want to go to mars, or slip into the underworld. They want to get high. They want euphoria, they want sweet inspiration, they want relief and stimulation. They don’t want to do a couple of lines of coke and end up OD’d on fentanyl. Heck, a group of partying stand-ups should be able to do buckets of cocaine, huge piles of fish scale and end up with nothing but a bad case of the clap and a drained bank account.

The meth freaks I know now can’t put together an album like Lou Reed, or get electronic beepy like Kraftwerk, they are dumbfounded and shaken, and masturbating for 15 hours to sick Yaoi manga while wearing tin foil hats and crying down the phone to me that the shit ain’t what it used to be.

Clean up or die: when I then saw that the immensely talented actor, Michael K Williams, had passed from an opiate overdose in New York, the next morning I was reduced to tears. He was not that much younger than me, open about his struggles with booze and drugs, he clearly knew his way around his own addictions and use of drugs at this point in life, and still it got him. I will bet anyone that it was fentanyl that killed him. Not that heroin didn’t kill – it always was a risk users took with their drug of choice. But there is a chance of surviving heroin. Fentanyl gives people no chance at all.

Minus the hysteria and the reefer madness posturing, Fentanyl is very dangerous indeed. Not so dangerous that touching it, or being in the same room as it is dangerous, but it takes away the possibility of survival if people are using drugs that are tainted by it., and that means pretty much all hard street drugs in 2021.

Legally prescribed heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, and hallucinogenics would save so many lives. While the world is still so dedicated to punishing drug users we are still going to lose so many people. The homeless users smoking fent – smoking it, since injecting it is so dangerous – are just as valuable as any actor or model or comic. Those poor kids in small east coast towns dying in droves from fentanyl overdoses are worth just as much as any rich kid whose parents have money for rehab. Saving lives should be the name of the game. Even with naloxone – which brings overdose victims out of the overdose, it is not possible to save every overdose victim. Someone needs to get there in time, possibly have multiple doses of it available per victim, and be able to blow some air into their lungs, pump their chest and bring em around. Even then….even then….

If the politicians want to make a difference, stop China from producing and selling the precursors that fentanyl requires. If politicians want to make a difference they need to stop wanting to punish the sensitive and the artists who get addicted or need drugs to navigate life, and instead make it as safe as possible for people to do what they are gonna do anyhow.

R.I.P Brothers and Sisters. Get well soon, Katie Q. I got your back. And all those that want to sneer and judge and demand people live like they do (‘good’ right wing Christian conservatives) instead of letting people live their own lives the way they want to, can perhaps realize that if they don’t like something, then they don’t have to do it, but leave the rest of the world alone to try and survive life and living it. We need to demand safe access to clean drugs. We did it with marijuana, let’s consider how many beautiful lives we can save by being less judgemental and more loving and accepting of people as they are.


  1. Time Traveler of Life

    I have some problems with punishing people that need something to face the world we live in. But on the other had if they cause harm by operating a vehicle whether it be drugs or booze it could be my child that they injure. I don’t have the answer, I don’t even know the question. My drug of choice is wine, and I am a lightweight. One or two glasses and I am done. So I don’t have a reference to understand the how and why of using something stronger.

    1. The Paltry Sum

      No one should be drink or high driving. That is another matter entirely. I detest drunk and high drivers. I never drove high or drunk. Most of the junkies I knew couldn’t keep enough money together to run a car – that vehicle would be in their arms! Imagine needing your mother to hug you, and feeling her arms around you. Heroin is better. More comforting. And it makes you not care about the reality of life.

  2. Rob

    For the sake of harm reduction and hundreds of thousands of lives, the DEA needs to stop all prosecution and investigation into all drugs OTHER than fentynal and its Chinese analogs! You got it right that NO ONE that has ever done heroin WANTS to do fentynal. Tried pharmaceutical fentynal, actually a stronger Sufenta, straight out of an operating room 35 years ago and hated it! Since then I accidentally did it twice and now refuse to take any risk with street dope. How anyone even wants that shit is beyond me! No euphoria, as you said! Might as well be taking anesthesia gases! My only struggle or slip comes with hydromorphone, which is about the only available GOOD opiate here, but rapidly drying up as the Feds crack down on physicians. What their actions have done is to only cause more lethal drugs to flow without limits out of China. In a sane world decriminalized/prescription heroin would be available and put fentynal analogs out of business with targeted enforcement.

    1. The Paltry Sum

      Hello Rob! I absolutely agree with you. The first time I accidentally did fent, I was not wholly against it. I figured it was going to be to heroin what LSD is to mushrooms. I was wrong, It is soulless, mechanical. Might as well take a sleeping pill. No nod – just lights out.
      Dilaudid is what the Canadians are giving their addicts instead of methadone. I love diaudid – it is the crack of the opiate world. No legs, but man what a rush! I haven’t seen a real hydromorph in years.
      The British used to have a system that they would give junkies free heroin plus an equal amount of cocaine. They had good results. Only problem was that it didn’t punish anyone. You know how the powers that be with their puritanical bullshit love to punish a junkie.
      Fent is keeping me clean. I have no desire to do fent, and there is no heroin any more. They might be shouting Chiva on the corners, but it’s fake advertising. It it ‘I can’t believe it’s not heroin’ heroin substitute, Yuck.
      I think the smell of good vinegary dope will never leave me. Don’t figure it will be back any time soon.

    2. The Paltry Sum

      Rob – Are you on any other forums? If you DM me, Ill give you my user name on the usual suspects. Stay safe out there. Do you have narcan? Even though Im not using, I keep feeling like I should carry it in case I come across some poor soul that needs help.

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