New Opioids Called Nitazenes Showing Stronger Side Effects than Previous Medicines
August 26, 2022
  • A powerful synthetic class of opioids called nitazenes were discovered after people overdosed on them.

  • The nitazene class of drugs was created more than 60 years ago as a potential pain reliever, according to the WHO.

  • Doctors say this opioid can be up to 20 times stronger than fentanyl.

Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic persists and appears to be getting worse. A highly potent new synthetic opioid is beginning to appear on the streets in areas across the United States, with devastating effects on its users. A class of opioids called “nitazenes” has recently been found in syringes being examined by researchers across the country.

Forensic experts have found that syringes used in some overdoses contain a powerful synthetic class of opioids – nitazenes – that are up to 20 times stronger than fentanyl, a drug that is already 50 times stronger than heroin and 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Here are the Side Effects of Using Synthetic Opioids;

The first wave of the epidemic was linked to prescription painkillers. It has been replaced by heroin in opioid-related deaths. Now we come to a new form of synthetics.

Alex Krotulski, PhD, deputy director of the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education, said “nitazenes are the most popular subclass of new synthetic opioids.”

Over time, opioids have evolved as people’s dependence on them has changed. “Every time a cheaper, more powerful drug enters the illegal drug market, the number of overdose deaths increases,” said Dr. Rebecca Donald, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine.

“Synthetic opioids like fentanyl have overtaken heroin, and last year our country saw more opioid overdose deaths than ever before,” Donald said.

What are Nitazenes?

The nitazene class of drugs was created more than 60 years ago as a potential pain reliever, according to the WHO. They were considered a powerful pain reliever without the addictive effects of other opioids, but were never approved for clinical use in the United States.

However, in recent months, synthetic painkillers have started popping up around the world, including in Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and at home in the United States.

Although the extent to which these new opioids are being used by people in the United States is not fully known, in recent weeks, researchers have noted cases popping up across North America, including Washington DC, Toronto and Maryland.

Will Narcan Still Work?

Because of this drug’s effectiveness, forensic scientists are not entirely sure whether the traditional reversal drug, Narcan, will be as effective in reversing an overdose. Due to the effectiveness and the way the drug works, Narcan may need additional dosages or even higher doses to treat Nitazen-related overdoses.

Experts say a multi-pronged approach is needed to combat opioid abuse. More can be done to reduce drug-related deaths each year, but efforts must be comprehensive and expanded with contributions from federal, state, local, and non-public entities.

Other Common Side Effects of Using Opioids;

In addition to the potential for opioid overdose and increased risk of opioid use disorder with long-term use, opioid use has a range of negative side effects, which most people experience. The side effects vary from mild to life threatening and may include:

  • Fecal impaction

  • Drowsiness

  • Dry mouth

  • Sweating

  • Irregular breathing

  • Confusion

  • Falls and accidents

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Bowel obstruction

  • Dizziness

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Constipation

However, it is better to consult your doctor before taking any kind of medication or even if you’re facing any of these side effects.