New deadly pills have appeared on the street in the Lothians and other parts of Scotland leading to a rise in drug deaths.
Nitazenes have reared their ugly head across the country and it is said that they can be several times stronger than heroin and as much as ten times as potent as fentanyl which led to mass drug abuse deaths in America and the worst rates of drug deaths in the world.
Forms Nitazenes, which are synthetic opioids, were discovered in six areas across Scotland, which has led to Public Health Scotland warning citizens of the dangers the pose, the Daily Record reports.
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Etonitazepyne (NPE), metonitazene and protonitazene - the specific types of nitazenes found - have already led to the deaths of 27 individuals south of the border and in Wales.
They can be found in both pill or nasal spray form and were originally designed to tackle pain half a century ago before being deemed to strong and addictive to be prescribed by healthcare professionals.
It is understood that the pills in Scotland have been created to resemble a likeness with Oxycodone - a controversial painkiller that wreaked havoc in America after it was prescribed to millions of people who were then said to become overdose victims to substances such as heroin and fentanyl.
Dr Tara Shivaji, consultant at Public Health Scotland, said it was important to alert communities to nitazenes and make them aware of what to do in case of an overdose.
She said: “Due to their unexpected presence in the drug supply, alongside their high potency, nitazenes pose a substantial risk of overdose, hospitalisation and drug-related death.
“We’re working with our partners to improve the surveillance of nitazenes so we have a better picture of their prevalence and the potential harm they cause.
“Nitazenes are highly potent opioid drugs which can be many times stronger than more common opioids like heroin.
“A significantly smaller amount is required to get an effect and this poses an increased risk of respiratory depression and death.
“People who use drugs should be aware of standard opioid harm advice but be more vigilant due to nitazenes’ increased potency.
“That is dose low, go slow, avoid mixing drugs and use in the company of people who can respond in an emergency.”
To date, most nitazenes have been sold as counterfeit Oxycodone tablets, either blue or yellow, with an M stamped on one side.
There have been reports of the drug in Lothian, Grampian and greater Glasgow.
The first detection in Europe was in 2019.
The new findings prompted the ACMD – which advises government on drugs – to write to then Home Secretary Priti Patel, seeking an order to make nitazenes Class A drugs.
Chief inspector Anton Stephenson of Police Scotland said: “Emerging drug trends are constantly monitored and we will act proportionately to any increase in the prevalence or circulation of new or existing drug types.”
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