Nitazene – The Latest Synthetic Opioid Threat

Nitazine explained by New Life Medical Addiction Services

Nitazene (also spelled Nitazine) is the latest synthetic opioid to threaten the health of our country. Like Xylazine and other lab-created opioids, Nitazene is not well known or understood by the public. In this post, the addiction experts at New Life Medical Addiction Services explain what Nitazene is and the threat if poses to our South Jersey community.

Nitazene was developed by chemists at a Swiss pharmaceutical company in the 1950s as a potential painkiller, but it was never approved for wider use. Although they are considered opioids, the chemical structure of Nitazenes differs from Fentanyl and other related compounds. Nitazene began appearing in the United States about 2019, after China, under pressure from the U.S. Government, restricted Fentanyl-related substances.

A characteristic of Nitazenes is their high potency, which is hundreds to thousands of times more potent than Morphine and other opioids and ten times more potent than Fentanyl. In the past few years, several Nitazenes have been detected in the illicit drug supply and have been implicated in overdose mortality, primarily due to their exceptionally high potency.

Different versions of Nitazene have appeared in Chicago, Tennessee, and West Virginia, according to the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education, which announced in December that a Nitazene called N-Desethyl etonitazene had been detected for the first time in two samples that they tested. The first one from the coroner’s office in Boulder, Colorado is 10 times stronger than Fentanyl. Another of the latest Nitazenes to emerge in the past year, known as N-Pyrrolidino protonitazene, is estimated to be 25 times more potent than Fentanyl. Furthermore, researchers estimate that between 10 and 15 types of Nitazenes exist on the illicit market.

The fact that Nitazene can be many times more powerful than Fentanyl can complicate overdose revivals and addiction treatment. Although illicit Fentanyl manufactured in Mexico by cartels remains the overwhelming driver of the increased overdose deaths in the United States, the increasing presence of Nitazene adds a new dimension to  the drug crisis. The treatment response from New Life Medical Addiction Services and other opioid treatment specialists is complicated by the fact that users often have no idea they are consuming these new and highly dangerous opioids.

Chinese pharmaceutical and chemical companies have played a significant role in the proliferation of illicit synthetic drugs in the past decade. And although Beijing recently announced that it would curb the sale of precursor chemicals used by Mexican organized crime groups to manufacture Fentanyl, experts worry that an unintended consequence could be the proliferation of other synthetic drugs such as Nitazenes.

In the street drug supply, Nitazenes are often found mixed with Fentanyl or other agents, but their presence is not always disclosed to drug buyers, who may not even be familiar with Nitazenes. These drugs pose a particular challenge since there is little experience in how to reverse a Nitazene overdose or the potential drug-drug or drug-alcohol interactions.

Experience has shown that the overdose reversal drug Naloxone, can revive Nitazene users, however Nitazenes may complicate resuscitation efforts if users or medical personnel are not aware that Nitazene laced drugs have been consumed. In a recent study, researchers found that a small group of emergency room patients who had taken Nitazenes needed more Naloxone than people overdosing on Fentanyl.

With the increasing unpredictability of the makeup of the nation’s illicit narcotics supply, users may unwittingly become hooked on Nitazenes that were mixed into drugs without their knowledge.

That volatility means users cannot always get the same drug configurations and risk going into withdrawal if they do not.

If you or someone you care about would like to learn more about New Life Medical Addiction Services’ treatment options, feel free to call us today at: 856-942-3700 or send us a Text Message.

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