Warnings over opioids ’10 times deadlier than heroin’ hitting Britain
Deadly opioids which are said to be thousands of times more powerful than heroin are destroying lives in the UK.
Officials warn that Britain is on the verge of becoming gripped by a fentanyl epidemic which has killed at least 15 in Hull over the course of a few weeks.
An investigation by the National Crime Agency earlier this year revealed the drug and its variants are responsible for the deaths of 60 people in the past eight months.
The warnings come as America struggles with its own opiate crisis as synthetic drugs have been blamed for the deaths of 64,000 – including rock star Prince.
Fentanyl can be up to 100 times stronger than heroin. It is prescribed to cancer patients for severe pain, is highly potent and can cause fatal overdoses even in hardened drug users.
Another chemical – carfentanyl – is simlar but even stronger, and is used to tranquillise elephants. Just 0.00002g can be fatal.
The spate of deaths in Yorkshire is the most devastating yet in the UK, and the drugs’ arrival here has lead to fears deaths will spiral.
Each of the 15 dead had synthetic opioids in their bodies, with tests revealing most had a cocktail of fentanyl and carfentanyl.
Worried police chiefs have urged addicts to be aware because heroin use in the UK is the highest in Europe.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Kirby of Humberside Police told Mail Online: ‘These new drugs are the very dangerous tip of an iceberg.
‘The country needs to be alert.’
Tony Margetts, substance misuse manager for East Riding of Yorkshire Council, added: ‘We are creating an opiate-dependent population. It looks to me like a slow-motion catastrophe.
‘Opium feeds on unhappiness and there are lots of older, unhappy people who start taking drugs for pain but enjoy the feeling of calm.’