To anyone that uses drugs or cares for someone who does:
The drugs available in the UK seem to be changing lately. As services that provide support to people who use drugs and their loved ones, we have come together to issue a shared statement about some of the new drugs being used by the people we support and the risks they present.
Today is International Overdose Awareness Day, and in honour of all those who have been affected by overdose and in light of new information about synthetic opioids, we have updated our joint statement.
In the last two years, new opioids called “nitazenes” have arrived in the UK. They have recently been found mixed with heroin, with some being sold as illicit oxycodone pills and illicit ‘Xanax’ powders.
Nitazenes can be at least as strong as fentanyl and can be hundreds of times more potent than heroin. They are known to have led to accidental overdoses and the deaths of people across the UK in recent weeks.
If you use drugs, this information could help you and your friends to stay safer. If you know people who use drugs but do not use drugs yourself, the following information could help you to keep people alive.
Because of how dangerous these contaminated drugs are, the way you use drugs may need to change to avoid overdose. We have updated the following information, in line with harm reduction guidance issued by EuroNPUD, with additional information provided to aid those living in the UK:
2. Don’t use alone
3. Check your drugs
4. Start low, go slow
5. Stagger your dose
6. Overdose response
7. Seek substitute medication and other prescribing support
Jon Findlay (National Harm Reduction Lead, Humankind)
Deb Hussey (National Safer Lives Lead – Turning Point)
Peter Furlong (National Harm Reduction Lead – Change Grow Live)
Chris Rintoul (Innovation & Harm Reduction Lead – Cranstoun)
Kate Blazey (Interim Medical Director – With You)
Dr. Judith Yates (International Doctors for Healthier Drug Policies: IDHDP)
Shayla S. Schlossenberg (Drugs Service Coordinator, Release)
Mat Southwell (Project Executive, EuroNPUD)
Roz Gittins (Director of Care Standards and Practice Improvement, Via)
Rob Barker (Campaigns and Communications Lead, Barod)
Justina Murray (CEO, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs)
Prof Adam Winstock (Consultant psychiatrist & addiction medicine specialist)