The New Synthetic Opiate Hitting the Market: Nitazenes
Opioids have been an ongoing issue since the Purdue Pharma scandal. First, it was prescription pain killers fueling this epidemic; then heroin, and recently, it has been Fentanyl. Now new synthetic opioids going by the name Nitazene are hitting the drug market.
Nitazenes are incredibly potent synthetic opioids. They are in the drug class known as benzimidazole-opioids, a class of synthetic opioids. They were developed sixty years ago but were never approved to treat pain relief. Nitazenes were first discovered in 2019 in Canada in the unregulated drug supply. Where they are a part of the illicit drug market, they are not regulated, meaning you do not know what you are getting, nor do you know the dose you’re about to take.
Nitazenes are even more powerful than Fentanyl. Some forms of Nitazene are eight hundred times more potent than morphine and forty times more potent than Fentanyl. Some of the types of Nitazenes are:
The most common form of Nitazenes found is a powder form, but it can be sold as a pill and liquid. They are becoming more frequent, and the number of Nitazene analogs is increasing. An analog is a drug whose structure is related to that of another drug. With so many unknowns, the risk of overdose increases. When someone overdoses on Nitazenes, they may need extra doses of Naloxone, or Narcan, to be revived. Nitazenes are contributing to hundreds to thousands of deaths every year. The other downfall is that they are so new, not always tested for, and if there is Fentanyl mixed in, Fentanyl takes the blame.
Fentanyl is known to be laced in several drugs, such as heroin, meth, and cocaine, and they are being pressed into pills. Now, this exact thing is happening, but with Nitazenes, where they produce a similar effect to Fentanyl and other opioids, making it is hard to determine which drug is causing the effects.
Signs of opioid use to be aware of are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry Mouth
- Constricted Pupils
- Respiration suppression
- Drowsiness that can cause them to nod off
It is essential to know these signs to keep your loved one safe from this epidemic. But unfortunately, the problem is just when you think it can’t get worse; it does. Nitazenes are newer to the illicit drug market, and while not common, its use is on the up rise. Nitazenes have appeared in a few states: California, Iowa, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
The best thing to do if you know your loved one is using drugs is to get them into treatment before it’s too late. If you or a loved one are seeking drug or alcohol treatment, reach out for help. There is an end to the vicious cycle of addiction.