Priority drug alert: Overdose risk for heroin and other drugs
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 powder have been discovered to be extra strong.
Testing of some batches has shown that they had been adulterated with an extremely dangerous synthetic opiate called Nitazenes. 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, or someone you know or support, are taking heroin, be aware that it could be stronger than usual with a higher risk of overdose and take the advice below.
We would recommend that you also avoid oxycodone pills and alprazolam (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 alprazolam (Xanax) powder that you don't take, make sure to get rid of them safely e.g. at a pharmacy or an amnesty bin (not down a toilet or in a rubbish bin).
Things we need to do:
• Anyone in contact with people who use drugs, in particular opiates, should be made aware of the risk of nitazenes in the drug supply and be able to recognise possible symptoms of overdose and respond appropriately.
• We have posted this alert on our national accounts. Please share the posts to your local social media. The post on Twitter and the post on Facebook.
• Service Managers and Team Leaders must ensure all relevant staff are briefed and this poster is displayed in your hubs where appropriate.
• Service Managers must forward this email to relevant partner organisations and local agencies.
• If anyone reports feeling ill after taking drugs, this should be escalated to the national teams, by filling in the form on page 9 of the LDIS policy and sending to firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information please email email@example.com
Do not hesitate to contact us should you have any concerns or additional questions about monkeypox. We have direct links to public health professionals and are here to support you. Vicky (07714252927) & Lynne (07488913591)
Monkeypox can be spread by:-
• any close physical contact with monkeypox blisters or scabs (including during sexual contact, kissing, cuddling or holding hands)
• sharing clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with monkeypox
• the coughs or sneezes of a person with monkeypox when they're close to you
The symptoms of monkeypox include:
• unusual rashes or blisters on the body, including mouth, genitals and anus. Some get just one spot.
• a high temperature
• a headache
• muscle aches
• swollen glands
• shivering (chills)
• anal or rectal pain or bleeding
There are some things you can do to help keep you and others safe.
1. Wash your hands with soap and water regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
2. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of monkeypox if you are sexually active, especially if you have new or multiple sexual partners.
3. Take a break from sex and intimate contact if you have symptoms of monkeypox until you get seen by a doctor or sexual health service and told you have not got monkeypox or are no longer at risk of passing it on to anyone.
Local services who can help if you have symptoms of monkeypox are:-
Sexual Health Services Tel. 0300 020 0027
Umbrella Sexual Health Services SAFE Project (for sex workers) Tel 0121 237 5700
Warwickshire Tel. 0300 123 6644 press 1 for Nuneaton at the George Eliot Hospital press 2 for Rugby at the Orchard Centre press 3 for Stratford-upon-Avon at Stratford Healthcare press 4 for Nuneaton and Bedworth contraception clinics only
Your GP Make a phone appointment with your local GP or doctor
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