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Nitazenes are a class of synthetic opioids that have vastly increased potency compared to organic opioids.

They are chemically engineered to mimic the effects of traditional opioids, such as heroin or prescription painkillers.

The dwindling opium supply from Afghanistan, caused by the Taliban’s systematic destruction of crops, has led to substitutions within the UK heroin market.

Risks are not confined to heroin users – nitazenes are being detected in a growing range of substances, including benzos, fake Oxys and vapes. They can be hundreds of times more potent than heroin and the risk of overdose is extremely high. 

Always have naloxone at hand – and carry extra, as it can take multiple doses to reverse overdoses involving synthetic opioids. Release advises carrying two yellow cases of intramuscular naloxone or two double packs of nasal naloxone. 

Share information and key harm reduction messages far and wide. The situation will get a lot worse as the opium supply dwindles and we are in danger of sleepwalking into a public health crisis.

Here are some of the DDN articles and news reports on nitazenes.

Before it’s too late


DDN April 2024


Testing the limits


Stayin’ alive


DDN November 2023