MARION, IL (KFVS) - There is a new drug that has Illinois lawmakers taking action.
They call it U4 and lawmakers classified it as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Some even call it "pinky" for its pink hue.
However, this has yet to stop the number of overdoses in southern Illinois.
Most people are familiar with opioids such as morphine or codeine used for medicinal purposes, but there's also heroin.
"Heroine is actually very large and common drug around here," Michael Chipma, ER director, said. "It has become cheaper. People are getting more access to it. Unfortunately, it is getting stronger and killing people."
The new drug, U4, is a lot stronger.
According to the Marion Narcotics Unit, right now, the U4 is actually more powerful, they are saying it's like seven to eight times more potent than morphine.
The problem is these opiate drugs are the cause for the overdosing.
The Marion Police Department Narcotics Unit said its already seen four opiate-related overdoses just in January.
"Because it's so much stronger, it's easier to overdose, and that's why we are seeing an increase of overdose because people are used to doing a tenth of a gram of heroin and now they are doing a tenth of a gram of synthetic opiate and overdosing."
Why is the drug so prevalent?
"The accessibility and the legality because it's legal and accessible. They mail order it, so that's why we are seeing synthetics."
Not only is it more accessible, the sergeant said it's cheaper.
According to the narcotics unit, the drug is being ordered and coming in the mail from China.
The effects can be dangerous and life-threatening.
"As with heroin or opiates, you just start to get tired, your heart stops and you never wake up."
Some community organizations that help with substance abuse include:
- Awareness Against Drug Abuse
- Alliance Against Methamphetamine Abuse
- Massac County Drug Awareness Coalition
- Rising Up for Change
- Alexander-Pulaski Action Coalition
- Madison County Heroin Task Force
- Metro East Coalition Against Meth and Other Drugs
- Harrisburg Celebrate Recovery Program
- Celebrate Recovery Pinckneyville
You can also click here for more information on the prescription drug and heroin epidemic.