February 1, 2023

New Drug Hitting the Streets Stronger than Fentanyl


Can you imagine a drug stronger than Fentanyl? What about 40 times stronger than Fentanyl? That is what law enforcement and the DEA is discovering about a class of very powerful synthetic opioids, benzimidazoles, also known as nitazenes. Originally synthesized in the 1950’s as a potential pain reliever medication, nitazene was never approved for medical use in the world due to its potency and lack of safety. The drug is being manufactured in underground labs in China and shipped to the US.

Nicknamed “Frankenstein opioids” nitazene is produced in pill, liquid, and powder form. There have been reports of the drug being found as fake oxycodone tablets. The drug is also mixed into other drugs such as fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine leading to accidental ingestion and associated with increased overdoses.

Due to the potency of nitazene and in the case of overdose it can take up to 4 doses of naloxone to reverse the effects, meaning the likelihood of receiving lifesaving attention in time is far lower. While reports have not been made that the drug has made it to Maine, it is becoming more known in several other states, such as Tennessee since 2019, and could make it’s way.

If you have a loved one struggling with opioid addiction be aware of the signs of opioid overdose: slowed or stopped breathing, limp body, and coma, and keep naloxone on hand. Healthy Lincoln County offers naloxone trainings and distribution to the community to help prevent overdose deaths in Lincoln County.


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