General News / November 13, 2023

Major Overdose Warning Issued due to Synthetic Opiate Influx

Image Credit: RTE
General News / November 13, 2023

Major Overdose Warning Issued due to Synthetic Opiate Influx

Words: Dray Morgan

The HSE have issued warnings online and on billboards throughout Dublin after a severe spike of opiate-related overdoses have been recorded in the past week.

54 heroin-related overdoses have been recorded since last Thursday as The Health Service Executive confirmed that batches had a trace amount of nitazene type substance that has been identified in a brown powder associated with a Dublin overdose.

The HSE have deployed an awareness scheme around the batches of illicit substances circulating the City. Electric billboards throughout the city centre have been programmed to display “Extreme Overdose Warning”.

The Health Service warns against anybody trying new drugs or buying drugs from new sources. They also reminded the public that Naloxene is available at any Dublin-based addiction service and can be used to reverse the effects of an opiate overdose.

Nitazene is a synthetic opioid, which has been synthesised to replicate the effects of heroin. However, due to its high potency and price point, synthetic opioids have seen a sharp increase in use in the past decade.

Mayor of Dublin Daithí de Róiste cited the reduction in production by the Taliban in Afghanistan, the world’s largest producer of heroin, as the reason behind the drug being mixed with other substances.

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, warned in September of an imminent surge in synthetic opioid usage and subsequent deaths. Talking in New York, the Taoiseach remarked that it was “more likely than not” that the substances would reach Ireland “sooner rather than later”. He also added that planning and preparation must take place now, in order to not see a new wave of fallout due to addiction and death in Dublin City.

Police in the UK have previously warned locals about similar risks circulating. West Mercia Police in England, warning of the danger of the far more potent fentanyl and nitazene being sold off as heroin.

For more resources on addiction and harm reduction surrounding synthetic opiates, please find the HSE’s notice here.

Elsewhere on District: The Case for Decriminalising Drugs in Ireland