New Substance More Potent Than Fentanyl Found In Street Drugs.

Photo: Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. Fentanyl can come in a number of different formats. Here are some samples seized by law enforcement.
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Global health experts are warning that nitazenes — a group of drugs that are much more potent than fentanyl — are increasingly present in street drugs.
One former heroin user, said the prospect is “scary” after having tried cocaine laced with nitazenes.
“It affected me way more than what that much of heroin would normally do,” he told reporters.
Nitazenes are alarming experts worldwide, having contributed to a crisis in the United States where 106,699 overdose deaths were reported in 2021 alone.
Nitazenes were developed by a Swiss pharmaceutical company in the 1950s as an analgesic for pain relief but were not approved for human consumption due to their risks.
An Australian drugs expert said the highly potent synthetic opioids are more dangerous than fentanyl and heroin.
“Nitazenes are around 25 to 50 per cent stronger than fentanyl and fentanyl is about 25 to 50 per cent stronger than heroin,” he said at the World Health Summit in Melbourne on Monday.
A 2023 study on rats found a nitazene called N-desethyl isotonitazene provided pain relief at a tenth of the dose needed using fentanyl and 1,400 times less than morphine.
While the effects on pain were similar, the increase in purity has sparked concern over the likelihood of opioid overdoses due to the small amount required to be fatal.
Adverse reactions to opioids include being unconscious, unable to talk, small pupils, slow or stopped breathing, bluish purple skin, and a limp body, according to the Department of Health.
“It’s still rather rare,” said an Australian doctor, “but we tend to only find them when there’s been some kind of a disaster where someone’s died or where someone has overdosed and ended up in hospital.”
For example in January, three people were hospitalised in Sydney after they ingested pills sold as MDMA, otherwise known as Ecstasy.
The Red Bull-stamped pills contained no traces of MDMA, however, nitazenes were detected.
Nitazenes are a lot more dangerous than fentanyl, requiring two to three times the amount of naloxone to reverse the effects of the opioid.
Naloxone works by blocking opioids from attacking the opioid receptors of the brain and is available as either a nasal spray or injection.

Drug experts are calling attention to  the issue to prevent a crisis, like in Canada where there have been 40,000 opioid deaths since 2016.

In response, Canada has decriminalised hard drugs such as fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine.
Along with removing criminal charges for possession, the country has taken a holistic approach to reducing harm including substance use services, education, and public health campaigns.
Source: SDS.
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