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Fake and laced benzos are circulating in the UK – causing a “fentanyl-style epidemic”

Harm reduction services have issued warnings about fake and laced benzo “crisis”, which could lead to a “fentanyl-style epidemic”.

According to harm reduction services Pill Report and The Loop, the UK is currently facing an increase of fake and laced benzos (most commonly known in the form of Xanax or Valium). Pill Report has claimed that 47.1% of American clubbers aged 18 to 29 have used “non-prescribed” benzo-like drugs in the last four months.

However, they warn that recently, street benzos can contain alternative compounds, one of which they describe as a “super-strength opioid”. Most notably, two compounds have come to their attention: Bromazolam, a medication that has since failed to be approved for usage, and nitazene, a synthetic opioid that they allege is “around 1000x the strength of heroin”.

Although there’s a lack of data, Pill Report suggests that the UK is entering a “high-risk” phrase, which could lead to fentanyl working its way into more and more drugs in a similar fashion to the US crisis. They warn this could cause “thousands of overdoses and deaths”.

The Loop also warned about the rise of nitazenes, calling it an “emerging public health risk”.

“The UK drugs market has been changing and there are now a range of higher risk substances circulating”, they wrote. “There appears to be considerable adulteration in the heroin market, and so too in illegally bought “prescription” benzodiazepines and opioid pills. In some more limited cases, other drugs, such as some “club drugs” may be affected.”

Both services strongly recommend getting any drugs tested at services such as The Loop along with WEDINOS (Wales) or MANDRAKE (Manchester), and they have also suggested obtaining Naxolone spray to reverse the effects of a potential opioid overdose. Naxolone is free and you can get it at any local drugs service, according to The Loop.

The Loop also suggests looking out for “unexpected reactions” such as “sudden loss of consciousness, memory loss and blackouts.”

Meanwhile, Pill Report has said to be wary of blister packaging or branding such as Bensedin or Actavis, as it can be “faked easily”. They have also suggested using Valerian pills instead of benzos, as it’s a natural remedy.

Finally, if in doubt, call 999 for an ambulance – The Loop claims that the police “do not routinely attend such calls.”

The Loop recently launched as the UK’s first regular drug-checking service in January. The service runs every last Saturday of the month in Bristol, is “non-judgemental, anonymous, and free”, and will additionally signpost further drug treatment and health services.

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