Narcan to the Rescue – But It Should Not Have to Be This Way

travis scott astroworld

There is a trend that has been simmering and this past weekend it came to a boil at the Travis Scott concert. Needle Spiking. It has already been happening in clubs in the UK  Spiking people at a 50,000 person festival is terrorism at best. 

I could believe in some psycho needle-sticking people or something but it seems unusual to me that one claim went viral on Twitter recently and suddenly people all over the country are remembering being injected in a club.

Slipping a Mickey has risen to new levels of wickedness these past number of months. Rather than spike the drink, which I now suppose is guarded with a protective hand and not left unattended, a prick comes from out of nowhere in the form of injection. The offender is so sly in their movements you would not know the prick is happening. First realizing, then imagining, although somewhere in the recesses of your mind knowing something happened, but then it fades like backdraft. Until the wooziness takes over. When you wake up some time later in unfamiliar surroundings there is a welt of sorts on the punctured skin. You know something happened but you can’t say quite what. 

Spiking injections, also known as needle spiking, take place when an unsuspecting person is injected with drugs using a needle.

Who would do this? As if a Mickey Finn, is any less heinous, now seems so antiquated, we yearn for something so antediluvian. Yet the technology is more advanced. Not every drug can be absorbed so efficiently. Mickeys dissolve in liquid and are ingested. An injection would have to hit certain body parts for absorption to take place. 

Police across the UK are carrying out investigations, but it is believed that the drugs used in these incidents are the same used to spike drinks, such as Rohypnol (roofie) or Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), commonly known as date-rape drugs.

It might be more sophisticated than the usual suspects. Why go to all that trouble for a “roofie”? But the know-how and the reasons why are stumping the experts. Where to poke, size of needle, how long to keep the needle in for the drug to absorb but before someone notices what is happening – if the malice is to be unsuspecting then the act has to be sly, quick, and effective. How long does the substance stay in the bloodstream before it does not show up in a toxicology screening? 

One post that went viral on Twitter by Sara Owen who was spiked in a club in the UK and other tweets have experts stumped and concerned.

Guy Jones, senior scientist at drugs charity the Loop, said: “Injecting adds a big ‘what?’ factor to the whole thing because few drugs would be able to be injected like this. Where drugs can be injected non-intravenously, there are specific injection sites that do not work well. The back is one of these unsuitable sites due to the low fat-muscle content, and high concentration of pain receptors.” 

 He added: “GHB would be a poor candidate for injection due to the large amount of fluid needed, and therefore the thick, painful needle. This means that the substance involved would be something that would be highly detectable for several days in a toxicology screening such as a benzodiazepine.”

“It’s really hard to stick a needle in someone without them noticing, especially if you have to keep the needle in there for long enough, maybe 20 seconds, to inject enough drugs to cause this. If you were malicious there would be half a dozen much easier other ways to spike someone.”

A critical care nurse who is familiar with intramuscular injecting and wished to remain anonymous fearing a backlash also shared that the likelihood of being able to administer a jab of ketamine, benzo or haloperidol (probably the only drugs likely candidates for this) is virtually zero because the needle size you need to quickly administer the liquid the drug is suspended in is a size that would hurt a lot when administered. 

Perhaps this is a designer brew circulating the dark web? 

Adam Winstock, director of the Global Drug Survey, said: “There are very few easily accessible drugs / medicines that could be given intramuscular in a small enough volume that people would not notice and the effects would take some time to come on. What you see in the movies is not reality.

Indeed. Although it seems reality may be imitating art more and more. 

Some needles are quite thin and painless.  How many people feel their botox injections? And if the prick is not expected and the venue is crowded you can easily think you backed into someone’s fingernail, ring or strap of a bag.

Some needles are so thin you can “barely feel [them] going in”, says Dr Shirin Lakhani, a cosmetic doctor specialising in women’s health.

“If someone has access to needles and syringes and can get into a club, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be able to impact or hurt somebody in that way,” adds Dr Veena Babu, a London-based GP. Dr Babu says she can appreciate that opinion might be split on this, but “if there are women reporting this has happened, or they’ve felt dizzy and they’ve collapsed and noticed bruise marks, we have to respect what they’re saying”. 

She adds that injections under the skin in the thigh or upper arm might be harder to feel, and the effects could take longer to kick in.

Whatever it is, this insidious trend found its way to the Travis Scott festival with reports of needle spiking.

According to the latest reports, the cops have revealed a possible case of drug spiking that may have led to the chaos on day one of the Astroworld Festival held at NRG Park in Houston, Texas. The Houston PD’s Chief, Troy Finner confirmed that at least one person was injected with something via a needle. Multiple reports earlier stated that apparently, an individual injected people with a substance at AstroFest.

Authorities investigating the deadly stampede at US rapper Travis Scott’s concert in Houston, Texas on Friday night confirmed claims of “needle spiking” – a horrifying new take on drink spiking where unsuspecting people are injected with an unknown substance.

Chief Finner said there are “a lot of narratives” floating around regarding what happened at the event, but confirmed Narcan was given to several individuals.

City Police Chief Troy Finner said his department has opened a criminal investigation by homicide and narcotics detectives following unconfirmed reports that someone in the audience “was injecting other people with drugs.”

Finner said that among the “narratives” under review by police were reports suggesting “some individual was injecting other people with drugs.”

It must be determined if the chaos that broke loose which ended in the death of several people was the result of behavior from disoriented drugged concert goers and in what period of time did the drugs need to take effect to create a coordinated mass hysteria?

Chaos ensued after people broke the security barriers at the entry points and it was later reported that a crowd surge happened near the main stage leading to the unfortunate deaths at the sold-out venue.

HOUSTON, Nov 6 (Reuters) – A stampede of fans surging toward the stage during rap star Travis Scott’s Astroworld music festival in Houston killed at least eight people and injured dozens more as panic rippled through the crowd of largely young concertgoers, officials said on Saturday.

A security guard was spiked while trying to do his job.

According to New York Post, a preliminary investigation by the Houston PD cops revealed that a security guard was jabbed in the neck while he was trying to restrain a citizen.  The Houston PD’s Chief, Troy Finner shared that the guard was revived by use of Narcan on site. The Medical staff who treated the security guard noticed that the mark could have been from an injection. Narcan was also used to revive other concertgoers as well. 

“We do know that there were several, many, instances where they did administer Narcan on site,” said Finner.

Reports were that one area of the concert may have been targeted.

A source closer to the fest organizers told the New York Post that people who collapsed at the venue were all in the same area. “This was a targeted attack on innocent people, including a child. People were being spiked against their own will.”

We have quietly emerged from the pandemic to find ourselves faced with a new enemy – the faceless prick of a needle while out in a crowded public venue. Have we crossed over to the dark side of having to remember to carry Narcan with us the same way we carry our credit card and cellphone? I doubt that is the primary intention behind Narcan: to foresee a criminal premeditated and malicious drug overdose. A scare frenzy and rush to buy Narcan might leave shortages for those who may truly need it. 

If you or someone you know is at increased risk for opioid overdose, especially those struggling with opioid use disorder (OUD), you should carry naloxone and keep it at home.

If this trend is a new form of terrorism then this tragedy needs to be investigated with an awareness that it’s not a one-off. It has been happening in the United Kingdom with enough frequency that it has prompted a petition to “Parliament to make it a legal requirement for nightclubs to thoroughly search guests on entry”.

The petition states: “I would like the UK Government to make it law that nightclubs must search guests on arrival to prevent harmful weapons and other items entering the establishment.

Unfortunately, I would bet dollars to donuts that would never fly on this side of the pond where everything becomes politicized. If masks became an issue, and vaccine cards remain to be seen, frisking at the door for lethal hypodermic needles – why would that make sense for the public good?  We just wait till things get so out of hand that perhaps someone notices and calls for help while people die.

Whoever the perpetrator/s were it appears they timed it so the pandemonium began around 9:30pm. 

At “9:30, right there, that’s when a few people started going down. Our people stepped up and immediately went to the producer and told him people are going down. This show ended at 10:10 p.m.,” Finner said.

Some people kept dancing, seemingly not realizing what was happening, but videos shot at the concert flew around the internet Saturday, including several that showed fans desperately trying to get the concert to stop.  Officials said the first signs of problems appeared about 9:15 p.m. and the concert was shut down at 10:10 p.m.

Scott did not stop the show at the first signs of mayhem.

“We need somebody to help. Somebody passed out right here,” Scott said, according to video of his set, which included a guest appearance by Canadian rapper Drake. “Security, somebody, jump in here real quick.”

 Would stopping the show have made a difference?  Maybe in terms of injuries and the number of deaths. 

The disaster — the deadliest at an American concert since a 2017 mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas — unfolded around 9:30 p.m.                      

But that does not address the bigger issue of needle spiking.  We need to prevent the act from occurring. If this is not brought into the public arena we will find ourselves in the midst of yet another runaway train public health crisis. It’s proactive and prudent to use Narcan as a back-up not as a preventative. Narcan only works on opioids and not on sedating medications. The proclivity to do harm may lead to innovation in this nefarious trend. 

Right now the only hero of this story is Narcan

Let’s find a hero to prevent it from occurring.

Author: Sherri Margolin (Dark Matters)

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