Drug 50 Times Powerful Than Fentanyl Spreading Across UK, Causes "Holes" In Skin

Nitazenes were first discovered in the UK in 2021, from a sample of white powder found in the back of a taxi in Wakefield.

Drug 50 Times Powerful Than Fentanyl Spreading Across UK, Causes 'Holes' In Skin

These drugs are sold as a white powder or crystalline solid. (Representational Pic)

A new breed of drugs 50 times more powerful than fentanyl is spreading fast across the UK, a report in Sky News said. The synthetic opioids, called nitazenes, are being cut into drugs like heroin. According to Alcohol and Drug Foundation, nitazenes were developed by researchers around 60 years ago as an alternative to morphine, but because of their high potential for overdose were never released. These drugs, often mixed with fentanyl or other drugs, have been connected to a number of overdose deaths worldwide.

"I'm seeing people coughing up blood. I'm seeing people dying. Any drug you are buying off the street you're taking a risk. These people are in it for the money and the purer it is, the less they make - so they are putting other stuff in it," Rory, who lives in East London, told Sky News.

Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and is the primary drug in North America, where synthetic opioids are estimated to have caused 75,000 deaths in the US last year.

Nitazenes have similar properties to fentanyl, but can be up to 300 times stronger than heroin, Sky News said in its report.

A woman who suffered the dangerous consequences of nitazene use, told the outlet what she had to go through.

"I've got holes in my legs. There's no skin, just holes. It's painful," the woman said pointing towards her bandaged legs.

She said the strange bores in her flesh have only appeared in the last few months. The woman's name has not been released by the outlet.

Nitazenes were first discovered in the UK in 2021, from a sample of white powder found in the back of a taxi in Wakefield. They have since been found in heroin, cannabis, cocaine, in a vape and most prevalently in black market pills sold as the anti-anxiety drug diazepam.

Inflow of synthetic drugs increased due to Taliban crackdown

Abdirahim Hassan, who has been campaigning against the drug, said the Taliban conducted a crackdown on heroin production in Afghanistan that successfully stemmed the flow of heroin from the country. Afghanistan had previously provided 95 per cent of the UK heroin market, but the move led to a boom in the easier to produce, more deadly synthetics.

"What it means is there's a much higher risk of overdose and death. But it's a cheaper product and more potent so people are in greater crisis and there is not enough testing," he told Sky News.

What do nitazenes look like?

These drugs are sold as a white powder, crystalline solid, or brown/yellow powder, as per Alcohol and Drug Foundation. They have also been found in tablets (fake oxycodone), heroin, ketamine and synthetic cannabinoids.

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