What Are Nitazenes?

what are nitazenes

A new class of lab-made opioids known as nitazenes has recently emerged, complicating the already dire overdose crisis gripping the U.S. and North America. Nitazenes, which can reportedly be more potent than fentanyl, are a growing concern for public health and law enforcement officials. Let’s explore what nitazenes are, their potential impact and why they demand our attention.

The Concern With Nitazenes

Nitazenes are synthetic opioids, initially researched in the 1950s for their potential as pain relievers. Despite decades of existence, these compounds never received approval for medical use in humans or animals. Nitazenes have recently resurfaced in the illicit drug market, often detected alongside fentanyl in street drugs and overdose cases.

The presence of nitazenes in the illicit drug supply is alarming for several reasons.

  • Potency variability: Nitazenes’ potency varies widely. Some compounds in this class are significantly more potent and have longer-lasting effects than fentanyl, while others are less powerful. This variability can make dosing unpredictable and increase the risk of overdose.
  • Limited detection and data: Routine drug testing and postmortem examinations do not commonly screen for nitazenes, making it difficult to grasp their prevalence and impact on overdose rates. As testing methods evolve to include nitazenes, we may see a rise in identified overdose cases involving these substances.
  • Legal status: In the United States, nitazenes are Schedule I drugs, indicating a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. This classification makes it illegal to possess or use nitazines.

The Role of Nitazenes in the Overdose Crisis

While fentanyl remains the primary driver of opioid overdose deaths in North America, the increasing availability of nitazenes in the drug supply is a cause for concern. Their presence complicates efforts to combat the overdose epidemic – their variable potency and effects can catch users by surprise, potentially leading to more frequent and severe overdoses.

The emergence of nitazenes as a factor in the overdose crisis underscores the need for:

  • Enhanced testing: Expanding drug testing capabilities to include nitazenes will be crucial in understanding their role in overdose deaths and informing public health responses.
  • Public education: Raising awareness about the dangers of nitazenes’ variable potency and Schedule I status is vital in preventing their use and spread.
  • Comprehensive strategies: Combating the rise of nitazenes requires a multifaceted approach, including law enforcement efforts to curb their distribution, public health initiatives to reduce demand and support services for people struggling with substance use disorders.

Curbing an Emerging Threat

As we continue to confront the complexities of the opioid crisis, the emergence of nitazenes presents yet another challenge in our efforts to save lives and reduce harm. We can begin to address the threat nitazenes pose by fostering a better understanding of these substances, enhancing detection and testing and implementing targeted prevention and treatment strategies.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we remain committed to providing the latest information and comprehensive care to those affected by addiction, including the evolving dangers of synthetic opioids. Our accredited team provides clinically sophisticated treatment and specialty services in one comfortable, hospital setting. Connect with us today to reach our admissions staff and get answers to all your questions.