Everything You Need to Know about Nitazenes

Everything You Need to Know about Nitazenes

You may have recently heard about nitazenes, but if you’re curious about what they are and why they’re causing concern – this blog article will provide the answers.

What Are Nitazenes?

Nitazenes are a group of synthetic opioids that are chemically similar to drugs such as morphine, codeine and fentanyl. They were initially developed over 50 years ago as a potential painkiller. However, due to their high potency and risk for addiction, they were never approved for medical use in the UK.

Nitazenes have recently reappeared as illegal drugs, raising concerns amongst drug users and health professionals. This deadly synthetic opioid is being cut into other drugs, such as heroin, which are then illegally sold for recreational use. This means the user might not even know they’re taking nitazene, which may lead to an accidental overdose and/or developing an addiction to the substance.

These substances are extremely powerful, even more so than fentanyl, which is already known for its extremely high potency.

What Does It Look Like?

Nitazenes can appear in various forms, which makes them even more difficult to identify. They might be found as a brownish powder, in pill form, or mixed into other illicit drugs. Sometimes, they are disguised as other prescription medications, adding to the risk of accidental drug-related deaths.

This deceptive appearance is another significant factor in the growing concern about these substances. Nitazenes have been detected in products sold as other opioids, such as heroin and oxycodone, as well as in benzodiazepines and synthetic cannabinoids. This indicates that many individuals may be unknowingly consuming these substances. This puts the user at a substantial risk of overdose.

Nitazenes Vs Fentanyl

Nitazenes and fentanyl are often confused for being the same substance. They’re both potent synthetic opioids, but there are differences between the two.

Fentanyl is a well-known synthetic opioid used medically for severe pain management, such as in cancer patients or after surgery. The use of it here in the UK is very strict and can only be accessed through prescription to treat extreme and chronic pain.

It’s about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. But, as we touched on earlier in this article, nitazenes can be even more powerful than fentanyl. This makes them highly dangerous because even a small amount can lead to addiction, a nitazene overdose or even death.

Both of these opioid drugs have similar effects on the body, such as pain relief and euphoria. However, nitazenes have greater strength, which makes them the most potent opioids out of the two, meaning they are more dangerous to consume. This is especially true when mixed with other substances or if the user is unaware of the drug’s strength.

Common Effects of Nitazene

When taken, nitazenes can cause a range of effects.

At lower doses, they might provide a sense of numbness, pain relief and feelings of euphoria, which can be why some people might seek them out. However, even at these levels, the risk of side effects is significant.

Users may also experience:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Sweating and feeling itchy
  • Constipation.

As the dose increases, the effects become more severe. High doses of nitazenes can lead to respiratory depression, where breathing slows down or stops entirely, which is often the cause of death in overdoses.

Other severe effects include:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Reduced heart rate.

The danger lies in how quickly these effects can take hold, sometimes within minutes of taking this potent opioid.

How Prominent Are Nitazenes in the UK?

Nitazenes have started to gain attention in the UK, although they are not as widespread as some other potent synthetic opioids. Since June 2023, the Toxicology Unit at Imperial College London has identified over a dozen instances of nitazenes in postmortem blood samples. The problem is that its presence is growing in the illegal drug market. Health officials are becoming increasingly aware of these substances due to rising reports of their use and the associated risks.

Efforts are being made to monitor and control their spread, but as with many synthetic drugs, keeping up with new and emerging variants can be challenging.

How Many People Have Died from Nitazene in the UK?

Based on the most recent information from the UK National Crime Agency, nitazenes have unfortunately been implicated in at least 54 drug-related death cases over the past six months. There are also an additional 40 cases currently under investigation, pending further toxicological analysis to determine if nitazenes were a contributing factor.

This emerging data highlights the prevalence of nitazenes appears to be rising, which, of course, poses a growing risk to individuals who might be exposed to these potent substances. The situation necessitates urgent attention from healthcare providers, policymakers, and law enforcement to mitigate the potential impacts of these dangerous compounds.

As awareness of nitazenes grows, it’s expected that more cases will be identified, highlighting the urgent need for effective measures to address their spread and the associated risks to public health.

How to Keep Yourself Safe from Nitazene

The best and only way to stay completely safe is to avoid using unregulated drugs altogether and seek help if you need it. However, if you are engaging in drug use and want to stay safe from nitazenes, follow these simple steps:

  • Stay away from street drugs: Do not use any drugs that your doctor doesn’t prescribe. Street drugs can be mixed with dangerous substances like nitazenes.
  • Learn about it: Understand the dangers of nitazenes and talk about them with your friends and family to raise awareness.
  • Use drug testing kits: If you or someone you know uses drugs, use drug testing kits to check for dangerous substances. This can help prevent accidental overdoses.
  • Seek professional help: If you struggle with drug use, reach out to a professional. Many resources are available to help you.
  • Carry naloxone: Naloxone can reverse an opioid overdose. If you are around people who use opioids, keep naloxone on hand and learn how to use it.

Find Support Today

If you or someone you know is struggling with nitazene abuse, it’s important to seek help immediately. Reach out to us today at 0800 001 4070 to discuss the options available to you.