Nitazenes: Misuse, Effects and Treatment

Overcome Nitazene Addiction

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Nitazenes are a potent class of new synthetic opioid drugs that are not approved for medical use. These opioids present a high overdose risk due to their exceptional strength, which is up to 1000 times stronger than morphine, and are highly addictive. If abused, they can cause severe health issues, including lowered consciousness and respiratory depression.1

These new psychoactive substances bear a troubling resemblance to fentanyl, with a similarly rapid onset and addictive potential. Alarmingly, nitazene overdoses may require multiple naloxone doses for revival.

If you use drugs recreationally or have a substance abuse problem, understanding the effects of nitazene abuse, and recognising overdose symptoms could prove life-saving.

Key Takeaways

  1. Nitazene, 2-benzyl benzimidazole, is a new synthetic opioid that blocks pain.
  2. Nitazenes are not approved for medicinal use due to their high potency and risk of overdose.
  3. Addiction to nitazenes has caused a spike in drug-related deaths and emergency calls.
  4. Government efforts include banning certain nitazenes and enhancing task force operations.
  5. Nitazene addiction can be treated with a specialised treatment programme at Castle Craig.

What are Nitazenes?

Nitazenes, are a group of highly potent new synthetic opioids that have been increasingly linked to fatal overdoses across the UK.2 These substances are designed to mimic the effects of traditional opioids like heroin but are known for their high potency and elevated risks.

If you are consuming other illegal drugs, you might come across these substances unknowingly, as they’re often detected in powders sold as heroin. This misidentification and misuse of drugs pose a serious risk, especially given the strength of nitazenes, and can lead to severe health consequences, including death.

The rise in nitazene-related overdose deaths is a growing concern for public health. The UK has reported numerous fatalities linked to nitazenes, with other cases still under investigation. It’s not just a problem isolated to the UK; instances of nitazene overdoses have been reported globally, highlighting the urgency of this issue.

While the government is taking steps to address this problem, such as stricter regulations and penalties, your awareness and understanding can contribute to harm reduction. Knowing the signs of an overdose, such as decreased consciousness and respiratory depression, can potentially save a life.

Additionally, pharmacies and a local drug treatment service can provide extra support and education about synthetic opioids like nitazenes.

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What are the Effects of Nitazene Misuse?

Frequently, the misuse of nitazenes can lead to severe health consequences, dramatically impacting your physical and psychological well-being.

Short-term effects of nitazenes include:

  • Feeling relaxed
  • Euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Pain relief
  • Fever and sweating
  • Reduced stress
  • Itchiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Respiratory depression
  • Low blood pressure
  • Overdose.

Long-Term Effects

The long-term impact of nitazenes hasn’t been fully researched, making it challenging to ascertain associated risks. However, there’s speculation that they could parallel those of other opioids.

Typical long-term repercussions of opioid usage encompass:

  1. Elevated tolerance levels
  2. Dependency
  3. Constipation
  4. Potential harm to critical organs like the lungs, brain, and heart
  5. Overdose deaths.

To protect yourself and others from the dangers of nitazene abuse, it’s important to understand and implement harm reduction strategies. These include educating yourself and others about the risks, avoiding use when alone, and seeking help if you’re struggling with addiction.

Are Nitazenes as Addictive as Fentanyl?

When comparing the addictive potential of nitazenes to that of fentanyl, it should be emphasised that both are highly potent synthetic opioids, but the specifics of their addictive nature can vary. They share a similar potency, which is crucial in determining their addiction risks. However, the addictive potential of these substances isn’t just due to their strength, the speed at which they act and the duration of the effects are also important when assessing how addictive nitazenes are. Fentanyl, for instance, is extremely fast-acting, which can contribute greatly to its addictive nature. Current data on nitazenes is limited, but early indications suggest they might have a similar rapid onset of effects, boosting their potential for addiction.3

Their potency means that a minimal amount can have a powerful effect, increasing the likelihood of opioid dependence. The danger isn’t just about the risk of addiction, but also the threat of overdose and potentially fatal consequences.

Stay informed and aware of the dangers that both fentanyl and nitazenes present. Understanding their addictive potential is the first step toward prevention.

UK Statistics on Use

As we examine the impact of nitazene misuse, it’s clear that overdose cases in the UK have seen a dramatic increase, reflecting a troubling trend across various demographics. These synthetic drugs have infiltrated the illicit drug market and are often found laced with substances like heroin and benzodiazepines, which complicates the challenge for public health authorities and emergency services.

Public Health Scotland’s recent alerts indicate that the geographical spread of nitazenes isn’t confined to urban centres; it’s a nationwide issue that requires a coordinated response. The strain on emergency services has been significant, with a rise in calls related to nitazene overdoses.4

Government Response to Crisis

In response to the escalating nitazene crisis, the UK government has established a specialised task force to tackle the spread of synthetic opioids. This decisive action reflects a robust government response aimed at curbing the alarming rise in drug poisoning deaths, particularly linked to these potent substances. Recognising the gravity of the situation, especially in regions like the North East, which records the highest drug death rate in the country, the task force’s mission is crucial.

Public Health Scotland’s Rapid Action Drug Alerts and Response (RADAR) programme employs data collection techniques to gather, evaluate, and share information. This early warning system effectively mitigates the risks associated with drug-related harms.5

The UK government has banned 11 synthetic opioids, including 10 nitazenes, to address the escalating public health crisis caused by these potent substances. This decisive action aims to curb the alarming rise in drug addiction and fatalities linked to these drugs, particularly in regions like the North East, where opioid-related deaths have reached unprecedented levels.6

These legal measures are part of a broader strategy to enhance public health and safety. By classifying these synthetic opioids as illicit street drugs, you’re seeing a commitment to reducing their availability and, hopefully, their impactful impact. The government’s task force, established specifically to tackle this issue, is working tirelessly to implement effective drug treatment and prevention strategies.7

While these bans are important, they’re just one part of the solution. Continuous efforts in education, support for addiction recovery, and enforcement of new regulations are essential to reduce the risks associated with synthetic opioids effectively.

Public health experts warn that we might see a significant rise in nitazene-related deaths if we don’t address the current trends effectively. The future landscape of this crisis can be intimidating, but understanding what lies ahead is important for preparing and potentially reversing these trends.

Below are some of the main predictions and concerns about illicit drugs like nitazene.

1. Increase in Addiction Cases: The number of nitazene addiction cases is expected to surge. This spike is driven by the ongoing accessibility of these drugs in the illicit drug market, tempting both new users and those with existing substance use disorders.

2. Rise in Demand for Treatment Services: As addiction cases climb, so will the need for specialised treatment services. Facilities and healthcare providers will face pressure to expand their capabilities to meet this growing demand.

3. Continued Distribution in Illicit Markets: Despite efforts to curb their spread, nitazenes remain prevalent in the illicit drug market. This persistent availability can lead to more individuals experimenting with and ultimately becoming addicted to these potent substances.

4. Long-Term Impact on Communities: The long-term impact on individuals, families, and communities could be profound, affecting mental health, social stability, and economic conditions within affected areas.

Addressing these concerns requires a thorough and well-informed approach, with a focus on prevention and effective treatment strategies.

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At Castle Craig, we have extensive experience in treating addiction to all types of opioids. If you’re concerned about your nitazene use, or are worried about someone you care about, reach out to us today. We can advise you on what treatment for nitazene addiction involves at Castle Craig and take you through the options available to you.

What are the Signs of Nitazene Overdose and How is it Treated?

Recognising the signs of a nitazene overdose could potentially save a life, so it’s important to know what to look for and how to respond effectively. Nitazene, like other synthetic opioids, can cause severe respiratory depression. This can lead to a lack of oxygen in the body, causing blue lips and fingernails.

Look out for these four signs of a nitazene overdose:

1. Decreased consciousness or unresponsiveness

2. Respiratory depression, indicated by slow, shallow, or absent breathing

3. Pinpoint pupils, a common sign of opioid overdose

4. Nausea and vomiting, often accompanied by low blood pressure

If you encounter someone showing these signs, contacting emergency services immediately is vital. While waiting, naloxone administration can be a lifesaver. This medication reverses opioid overdose effects, though multiple doses may be needed due to nitazene’s high potency.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that harm reduction strategies play a significant role in combating the rise of emerging drugs like nitazene. These strategies, including education, naloxone provision, and community collaboration, help to mitigate the risks associated with nitazene and other potent opioids.

Treatment for Nitazene Addiction

At Castle Craig, our team recognises the risks associated with synthetic opioids like nitazenes, which is why we have developed a comprehensive approach to drug treatment, that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction.

Our hospital provides a supervised medical detox in our on-site detox facility. This process helps eliminate nitazene from your body while managing withdrawal symptoms in a safe and controlled environment. This step acts as the foundation for the rest of your treatment.

Next, you’ll engage in therapeutic sessions, individually and in groups. Here, you will learn to understand what may have contributed to your nitazene addiction, develop coping mechanisms, and build resilience against relapse.

Our integrative approach also includes physical therapies and lifestyle interventions, like diet and exercise, to support your overall well-being.

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