In the past couple of weeks, the number of overdoses has been unusually high (with some deaths) among people who use drugs, primarily heroin, across parts of the country.
Heroin, Oxycodone Pills and Xanax (Alprazolam) powder has been discovered to be extra strong.
Testing of some batches has shown that they had been adulterated with an extremely dangerous synthetic opiate called Nitazene. Nitazenes may be hundreds of times more potent than heroin and can be at least as potent as fentanyl.
What people who use drugs need to do:
If you support someone who takes heroin, be aware that it could be stronger than usual with a higher risk of overdose and share the advice below.
We would recommend that you also encourage people who use our services to avoid oxycodone pills and Xanax powder.
The only way to avoid all the risks is to not take drugs which are not prescribed for you. However, if you do choose to take them, please bear in mind the following points for safer use.
- Go low and slow: be extra cautious about where and who you get your drugs from, and about the drugs you are taking – start with just a quarter hit of your regular amount and wait before using more
- Do not use alone: you're safer if there's someone with you who can watch out for you and call an ambulance in emergency
- If using with others, it's best if only one person uses the drug first and uses less as a test dose
- Don't mix drugs: Using more than one drug increases your risks of overdose, including mixing with alcohol and other depressant drugs such as diazepam and pregabalin
- Look after your friends: watch others carefully for the signs of an overdose, e.g. unable to wake up, difficulty breathing, blurred vision, weakness or slurred speech
- Make sure you have enough naloxone available: more doses of naloxone may be needed to recover from a synthetic opiate overdose.
- If you have oxycodone pills and Xanax powder that you don't take, make sure to get rid of them safely for example at a pharmacy or an amnesty bin (not down a toilet or in a rubbish bin).
Published: Aug 8, 2023
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