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Testing the limits

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[…] Alive campaign stated that drugs are changing, and this is even more true in 2024. A range of drugs across the UK continues to be contaminated with nitazenes, synthetic cannabinoids, novel benzodiazepines and occasionally xylazine. The risk of overdose leading to death or other adverse consequences remains very high. Nitazenes can be up to […]

Stayin’ alive

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A new family of synthetic opioids, known as nitazenes, have adulterated a number of illicit drugs in the UK. It’s not clear exactly when this began, but evidence of them being present in cocaine and heroin was detected in 2021.   Nitazenes are broadly equipotent to the fentanyls – or in layman’s terms, they’re many times […]

Nitazenes detected in 25 Scottish drug deaths

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Highly potent nitazenes have now been detected in 25 Scottish drug-related deaths since last year, according to data from Public Health Scotland’s (PHS) latest Rapid Action Drug Alerts and Response (RADAR) early warning system.  PHS first warned about the presence of nitazenes in Scotland’s drug supply at the start of the year The figures, […]

DDN_November_2023

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[…] partnership packages provide an opportunity to work closely with the magazine. Please get in touch to find out more. The campaign to inform people about potentially deadly nitazenes is an essential one (p6). But as well as vital information, we also want to share the efforts to work together across service boundaries to engage […]

Before it’s too late

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We’ve had more than enough time to prepare for the crisis we’re facing with nitazenes and other synthetic opioids. It’s vital we do the right things now, says Kevin Flemen. We should be very concerned about the issue of high-potency novel opioids. While increased media coverage and the establishment of a ‘cross-government task force […]

Harm reduction flyers on nitazenes

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Release, alongside EuroNPUD and other drug treatment service colleagues in the UK, have produced harm reduction advice on nitazenes. There has been an increase of nitazenes detected across the UK drug supply. These substances are a class of synthetic opioids that are believed to be as strong (or stronger) than fentanyl.  The 2022 Afghan […]

Nitazenes – new drugs, new risks

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A BBC investigation has found that dozens of illegal suppliers are advertising nitazenes openly on the internet and sending them in the post from China, where they are being manufactured. Forward Trust, a national addiction recovery charity, says that the findings from this investigation confirm what we have feared – that the illegal drugs […]

Government bans 14 nitazenes

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Fifteen more synthetic opioids, including 14 nitazenes, have been controlled as class A substances, the Home Office has announced.  The government has also introduced its tobacco and vapes bill While the government’s priority is to ‘engage with vulnerable people at risk of being sold these lethal drugs and divert them towards treatment’, anyone caught […]

Six new nitazenes detected in ‘rapidly evolving’ European drug market last year

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Six of the seven new synthetic opioids reported for the first time to the EU Early Warning System (EWS) last year were nitazenes, according to the EMCDDA’s European drug report 2024 – the highest number notified in a single year. More than 80 new synthetic opioids have appeared in the European drug market since 2009 […]

SDF launches nitazenes resource pack

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The Scottish Drugs Forum has launched a nitazenes resource pack for people at risk of overdose, their families and friends, and service staff. The resources include booklets and posters, and will be accompanied by social media posts. The resources were produced in partnership with service providers and other organisations, and are endorsed by the […]

Met seizes 150,000 nitazene tablets

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[…] were sold via the dark web, using encrypted chat applications and social media’, the police state. Around £8,000 in cryptocurrency stored on hard drives was also seized.  Nitazenes are extremely potent synthetic opioids that are increasingly being found in the UK drug supply, including in heroin batches and pills sold as oxycodone or benzodiazepines. […]

No time to lose

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[…] the stockpilers cashed in. Alongside rising prices, purity had been falling and supply contraction was beginning to bite. Synthetic opioids were already filling the vacuum. Fentanyls and nitazenes were of utmost concern as they were ‘incredibly dangerous’ – carfentanil was 10,000 stronger than morphine and just a tiny amount of any of these drugs […]

Afghanistan sees shift from opium to methamphetamine production 

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[…] opium ban a year later. Many people fear that the opium ban – if sustained and successful – will see heroin replaced by far more potent fentanyls and nitazenes in the drug market, with significantly higher risks of overdose. There have already been several reports of nitazenes entering the UK’s drug supply, with agencies warning […]

Six more synthetic opioids banned

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The government is to ban six new synthetic opioids, it has announced, following the controlling of 14 nitazenes as class A drugs earlier this year. Any new nitazenes detected in the UK will automatically become class A substances The government has written to ACMD to say it will accept their advice to control six […]

Highest ever drug death total for England and Wales

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[…] empathetic, easily and immediately accessible, and provided free from stigma’, added WithYou’s interim chief executive Hayley Savage. ‘Cocaine deaths continue to rise and polydrug use is increasing. Nitazenes and other synthetic opioids are also being increasingly identified in drugs like heroin and illicit benzodiazepines. With the majority of drug-related deaths connected to opiates and […]

Review of the year – 2023

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[…] about unusually strong opioids, with clusters of fatal overdoses around the country. Drugs sold as heroin, oxycodone and ‘street benzos’ are being found to contain fentanyls and nitazenes, the organisations point out.  DDN heads to Birmingham for its 15th annual service user conference, Many Roads. While it’s no longer socially acceptable to stigmatise people […]

Myanmar overtakes Afghanistan as largest opium source

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[…] about highly potent synthetic opioids. WEDINOS, the drug testing service operated by the agency, has received more than 20 samples of benzodiazepines that were found to contain nitazenes since September. The samples included substances being sold as diazepam and alprazolam – both ‘street benzos’ and drugs bought online by people ‘likely believing them to […]

Better data sharing needed to tackle opioid crisis, warns Cranstoun 

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[…] from Cranstoun. The document has been published in response to the increasing number of accounts of parts of the UK’s heroin supply being contaminating by highly potent nitazenes.  Among the report’s other recommendations are the scaling up of properly funded drug checking services and testing kits, increasing naloxone supply, scaling up provision of diamorphine-assisted […]

Raising the alarm on synthetic opioids – why the UK should not be complacent

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[…] by The Forward Trust. You can read the original post here. Related articles: (Features, November 2023): Stayin’ Alive, Now’s the time to get out strong messages on nitazenes –  Information and resources. (News, August 2023): Better utilisation of data and data sharing, including early warning systems, is needed to address the escalating drug crisis in […]

DDN_October_2023

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[…] ban a year later. Many people fear that the opium ban – if sustained and successful – will see heroin replaced by far more potent fentanyls and nitazenes in the drug market, with significantly higher risks of overdose. There have already been several reports of nitazenes entering the UK’s drug supply, with agencies warning […]

Release to open Harm Reduction Hub in London

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[…] forces preventing change around us to truly bring change. We have tried to do what we can with our current resources: We’ve created harm reduction advice on nitazenes, partnering with organisations to increase their reach We’ve spoken on national media to raise awareness on the dangers of synthetic opioids and what needs to be […]

Street Benzos: Clinical Management That’s Fit for Purpose 

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[…] these substances also often significantly stronger than legally prescribed ones. Additionally, there have been many recent instances of drugs purported to be benzodiazepines turning out to contain nitazenes. Nitazenes are potent and high-risk synthetic opiates, posing great danger to people who use them. This is especially true for people who use benzodiazepines and don’t […]

Afghan opium cultivation drops by 95 per cent

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[…] people of Afghanistan.’  Afghanistan opium survey 2023 available here Related articles: (Features, November 2023): Stayin’ Alive, Clear messaging on the new family of synthetic opioids, known as nitazenes. (News, September 2023): Significant shift in Afghanistan’s drug market, with ‘surging’ levels of methamphetamine production, according to a new UNODC report. (Features, June 2017): Meet the […]

Government bans 11 synthetic opioids

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[…] Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), the Home Office has announced. ‘Synthetic opioids are highly dangerous substances, which ruin lives and devastate communities,’ said policing minister Chris Philp. Ten nitazenes, along with brorphine, will be become class A substances, with legislation being brought forward ‘as soon as possible’.  ACMD was commissioned to investigate the drugs after […]

Changing with the times 

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For this month’s column, we decided it would be best to reflect on what we learned in 2023, and spell out Release’s plans to try and do things differently in 2024 – we’ll be back with another case study in our next regular column. Over the past year, we’ve been adapting our ways of working […]

Another increase in suspected Scottish drug deaths

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[…] death rate remains by far the highest in Europe.  RADAR has also published an alert about the increased availability of a group of high-potency synthetic opioids called nitazenes, which ‘pose a substantial risk of overdose, drug-related hospitalisation and drug-related death’. Nitazenes are a new addition to Scotland’s drug supply, and have been sold as […]

£267m treatment funding to be rolled out next April

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Almost £267m of funding to improve drug and alcohol treatment and recovery services will be rolled out to local authorities next April, the government has announced.  The money is part of the ten-year strategy to improve the quality of – and access to – treatment, and follows the £95m made available in 2022-23 and £154m […]

Nitazene+Alert+Social_1

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Confidentiality key in drug-checking services, says study

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[…] year, Scotland’s death rate remains the highest in Europe and many in the drugs field are concerned about the potential impact of highly potent synthetic opioids like nitazenes on overdose rates. Data from the most recent Rapid Action Drug Alerts and Response (RADAR) early warning system found that nitazenes were detected in at least […]

European heroin market worth EUR 5bn a year

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[…] the continent. Many drugs organisations are concerned that any decrease in heroin availability caused by the situation in Afghanistan could lead to highly potent synthetic opioids like nitazenes filling the gap in the market, with consequent increases in overdose deaths.  ‘Compared to North America, the EU has been impacted to a much lesser extent […]

Synthetic opioids and reducing risk

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In this blog post, Turning Point’s Safer Lives Lead, Deb, sheds light on the emergence of a concerning new class of opioids known as “ nitazenes” and the risks they present. We recently shared a joint statement addressing the evolving nature of drugs available in the UK. As an organisation dedicated to supporting individuals facing substance […]

OHID issues new guidance on dealing with synthetic opioid threats

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Updated guidance for commissioners and local services on preparing for, and responding to, incidents involving fentanyl and nitazenes has been issued by OHID. Fentanyls are still causing ‘significant issues’ Fentanyls are still causing ‘significant issues’ in the US and Canada, and there are signs that they are being seen more often in local drug […]

DDN November 2023

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‘A unified message cuts through the noise’ The campaign to inform people about potentially deadly nitazenes is an essential one (p6). But as well as vital information, we also want to share the efforts to work together across service boundaries to engage with people at risk. This ‘common responsibility’ led to a unified message […]

Scotland expands naloxone provision to community pharmacies 

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[…] in Europe (https://www.drinkanddrugsnews.com/scottish-drug-deaths-down-by-a-fifth/).   Scottish Drugs Forum CEO Kirsten Horsburgh Many people in the sector have also warned about the risks associated with powerful synthetic opioids such as nitazenes and fentanyls entering the country’s drug supply. ‘Everyone seems to know that Scotland has an astonishing rate of drug-related deaths and that was before we saw […]

Over-supervised, Under-dosed

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[…] Allie was buying heroin to manage. This was neither what Allie wanted to be doing nor was it financially sustainable. To make matters worse, drug alerts for nitazenes, as well as confirmed reports of xylazine in Allie’s local area, meant her heroin was coming from an increasingly unsafe supply.  So, Allie approached her service […]

A proud tradition

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[…] community knowledge and support’. Nitazines – harm reduction information: Release, alongside EuroNPUD and other drug treatment service colleagues in the UK, have produced harm reduction advice on nitazenes. The Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw: The challenges of mainstreaming tobacco harm reduction. Looking to work in harm reduction? See DDN jobs for the latest […]

DDN Conference 2024 Programme

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Welcome and conference introduction. Synthetic Opioids: The Safer Lives Team from Turning Point demonstrate the importance of peer-led education and engagement in tackling the ongoing risks from nitazenes and other novel and synthetic opioids. Shayla Schlossenberg Shayla Schlossenberg: Release’s drugs service coordinator takes up some of the issues around equal rights to healthcare that […]

Drug-related A&E admissions in Scotland up by 13 per cent

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The average weekly number of drug-related attendances at Scottish A&E departments between March and May this year increased by 13 per cent compared to the same period last year – to more than 1,080 attendances.  However, the average weekly number of drug-related acute admissions was down by 23 per cent between January and March compared to […]

Record cocaine seizures across Europe

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[…] EMCDDA to 930. A total of 74 new uncontrolled synthetic opioids have also been identified in Europe since 2009, says the document. While fentanyl derivatives and highly-potent nitazenes play a ‘relatively small role’ in the European drug market compared to the US, there are growing problems in some areas.  The report also covers the […]

DDN April 2024

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[…] position we are in to provide appropriate interventions and support. News of more sudden deaths, including clusters in prison, further underlines the emergency we are facing with nitazenes. This is not a remote problem. See the action plan on p10 – we need to understand the risks, act quickly, and coordinate locally to make […]

Drug deaths are everyone’s business

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[…] have doubled since 2012, with older age ranges increasingly affected and deaths of women rising. Recent overdose death numbers saw concentrations in certain areas and involvement of nitazenes, which is unusual. OHID’s action plan to reduce drug and alcohol deaths addresses five priority areas – within these there is a focus on improving treatment […]

Most of Northern Ireland’s drug deaths among young people 

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[…] and improve drug testing of samples submitted by community and voluntary sector organisations. The country’s drug landscape is changing and ‘we are beginning to see evidence of nitazenes in recent drug deaths’, the document states. More resources, including staff, also need to be allocated to outreach work targeting younger people, it adds, along with […]