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 market in the UK is shifting in a worrying direction with the arrival of these synthetic forms of opiate-type drugs, that can be 100 times more potent than heroin.

Forward Trust has recently issued a national alert to staff warning of the increased risk of deaths by overdose – across the UK, nitazenes have already been linked to 101 deaths between 1 June 2023 and 22 February 2024, according to the National Crime Agency.

While this is still a small proportion of the almost 5,000 annual drug-related deaths in the UK, the new trend is significant, and must not be allowed to reach US levels, where more than 70,000 deaths last year were linked to synthetic opioids.

Mike Trace, CEO of The Forward Trust
Mike Trace, CEO of Forward Trust

‘We are seeing the drug market in the UK shift in a worrying direction, driven by the profit motive of traffickers, so police and border authorities need to react quickly,’ said Forward Trust CEO Mike Trace.

‘But we also know that there are public health measures that can help reduce overdose death risks – accessible and accurate safety advice, harm reduction services, and offering people living with addiction a practical way out.’

A special programme, The New Drug Threat, can be found on BBC iPlayer.

This blog was originally published by Forward Trust. You can read the original post here.

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We are proud to work in partnership with many of the leading charities and treatment providers in the sector.

This content was created by Forward Trust


Related articles:

(Features, April 2024): Before it’s Too Late – preparing for the crisis we’re facing with nitazenes and other synthetic opioids.

(Features, March 2024): Testing the Limits – the need for increased testing for synthetic opioids.

(Features, November 2023): Stayin’ Alive – A new family of synthetic opioids, known as nitazenes, have adulterated a number of illicit drugs in the UK.

(News, December 2023): Nitazenes detected in 25 Scottish drug deaths

(News, August 2023): Better utilisation of data and data sharing, including early warning systems, is needed to address the escalating drug crisis in the UK

(Partner Updates, September 2023): Release, alongside EuroNPUD and other drug treatment service colleagues in the UK, have produced harm reduction advice on nitazenes.

Search the DDN archive for more on nitazenes and synthetic opioids.

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