Elena prepares her second daily dose of heroin. She’s been injecting herself for 20 years, but since the overdose that nearly killed her last year, she’s scared because The drug is now mixed with fentanyl in Mexicaliwithout knowing the consumers.
The sample “is positive for fentanyl”, they confirm after a test in La Sala, where users in this Mexican city, on the border with the United States, They can safely consume the drug bought on the street and avoid crises,
test shows Within minutes when contaminated with this synthetic opioid Which is looming as a global threat.
since 2019 “There’s not a single heroin test that hasn’t come back positive for fentanyl”Says Said Slim, coordinator of Verter, the NGO that created La Sala in Mexicali in 2018 to protect vulnerable consumers.
This is what the organization’s 2022 records indicate Overdoses doubled in a year, worse, daily One hundred thousand inhabitants die in Mexicaliaccording to officials.
more than enough
With a smile on her face suffering from drug addiction, Elena tells His distress occurred despite the fact that he had injected his usual dose of heroin.,
,They put that bottle on me to bring me back cause I was too strong“. He talks about naloxone, a drug capable of reversing opioid toxicity and banned in Mexico.
Elena, who works as a cleaner, cut her dose in half and almost always injects herself at La Sala, a pioneering initiative in Latin America where, like Europe, Alarm bells ringing for fentanyl’s most addictive and deadly mix,
Elena, 50, injects herself in the right side. “I did it intramuscularly”He explains by commenting that the influence through the veins “Feels Good, But Ends Soon”,
Provides to NGO users Kits for consumption that prevent infection with hepatitis or HIV and monitor your health.
homeless people or sex workers come to the premises, where Greet them by name, get health tips and orientation against abuse of authority.
“They still make me feel like I’m a human”Looking tired but sober, says Ricardo, who has been using heroin for 26 years. He also nearly died from the fentanyl.
“When heroin’s transformation (to speak the original) with fentanyl originated (by mixing I suffered an overdose, only by the grace of God I am here“, Memorization.
The adjustment was “very difficult” For Ricardo, 59, that reduced the dosage to half a gram a day.
fentanyl “anesthetizes you” and puts you “practically asleep”, describes a man who sells sweets on the street. “People are not stupid and (…) they realize when someone is under the influence.”
Mexicali is bearing the brunt of the synthetic opioid crisis in the United States, Where more than 70 thousand people have died since last August. Intoxicated by these substances, primarily fentanyl.
washington Points to Mexican cartels as dominant in opioid production and traffickingAnd this issue dominates the bilateral agenda.
But the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, denies that it is produced in Mexico and assures that it is imported from China, after which cartels make pills that are easier to traffic because of their size.
Criminals also often mix fentanyl with methamphetamine and cocaine.
Carlos Romero, Mexicali’s deputy director of police and traffic, says he unit daily Participates in between three and six deaths of suspected addictswhich usually bypassed mixing.
“Many are in excess (…), The presence of fentanyl has increased significantly in the city“, he notes.
Some are in the street, others in “Riding Hall”as they know secret consumption site, But even in homes, Romero says, adding that the problem is specific to marginal areas.
Red Cross coordinator Julio Buenrostro has indicated that overdues represent up to 25% of attended emergencies, However, with naloxone “we were able to save a ton of lives.”
without regular access to medicine, paramedics, firefighters and even the police They turn to Werther, who donates it to the United States.,
,If we didn’t have naloxone, it would have taken longer for the patient to come outof the crisis, explains Gloria Puente, an emergency technician with the Red Cross, who calls on the government for support.
But López Obrador criticized that the United States authorized its free sale to prevent mortality, Arguing that it “doesn’t get to the bottom of the problem”and discusses banning fentanyl as a pain reliever.
Ricardo, for his part, warns of danger. “I Lived It For The First Time”Says this man who walks the streets leaning on a walker where he carries his belongings, while two dogs follow him faithfully.