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Synthetic opioid alert: nitazenes

You may have seen in the news that across the UK, there have been a number of accidental overdoses and deaths linked to a synthetic opioid called nitazenes.

Nitazenes have been found in heroin, and other illicit (bought on the internet or from a dealer) like benzodiazepines or oxycodone.

If you or someone you know uses drugs, it’s important to know about the risks – sharing the guidance below could help to save a life.

It’s safest not to use drugs but, if you choose to:

  • It is best not to use alone and don’t let your friends use alone either
  • If using heroin, smoke rather than inject
  • If using a new batch, start with a low dose and adjust slowly
  • Mixing different drugs, including alcohol, can increase your risk of harm and is more likely to cause an overdose. Try to use one drug at a time.

Be aware of the signs of opiate overdose:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Pinpoint (very small) pupils
  • Dizziness / confusion
  • Shallow or no breathing
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Blue lips or nails
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Choking or snoring sounds

The importance of Naloxone

  • Get, carry and use naloxone – it’s a life-saving medication that reverses the effects of opioid drugs like heroin, morphine, methadone and nitazenes
  • If you are unsure what someone has used, administer Naloxone anyway – it will not cause harm to someone who has not used opioids
  • It is highly likely that those suffering from the effects of a synthetic opioid overdose will require multiple doses of naloxone. Make sure you have enough supply of naloxone in case of an emergency
  • Get naloxone from a drug service, pharmacy or homelessness service

Get help fast

If you think that you, or someone you are with, may be experiencing symptoms of overdose call 999 immediately.