31 December 2022

Health alert issued as 'extremely dangerous' drug hits Canberra streets

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Canberrans are being warned a strong opioid has been detected in tablets sold as oxycodone on the streets. Photo: File.

ACT Health is warning Canberrans to be aware of a strong opioid detected in tablets being sold as “oxycodone”.

Metonitazene, a potent synthetic opioid, has been detected in a tablet tested at the CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service.

The synthetic opioid has been detected in tablets that were sold as “oxycodone”. The tablets were circular and yellow in colour, with no markings or stamps.

A health spokesperson said any use of illicit drugs poses a risk to health, but the unexpected effects of this particular substance could be extremely dangerous.

People in possession of any yellow tablets sold to them as “oxycodone” should be aware that they could cause harm if taken. If you suspect you are in possession of this substance, you should safely dispose of the drug.

Fentanyl test strips are unable to detect nitazene opioids.

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This drug warning does not apply to any oxycodone tablets provided on prescription through a pharmacy or a healthcare service.

Metonitazene is a potent synthetic opioid of the nitazene class. Nitazenes can be as strong, or stronger than fentanyl.

NSW Health has recently issued a public drug warning for “heroin” found to contain nitazenes.

People who have taken nitazenes may experience an overdose.

Overdose symptoms include:

  • slow breathing/snoring
  • drowsiness
  • loss of consciousness
  • skin turning blue or grey.

ACT Health says naloxone can temporarily reverse an overdose from nitazenes. If you see the warning signs of an overdose, seek help by calling 000. Stay with the person, and on the phone with the operator until the ambulance arrives. Use naloxone if you have it, still call 000 even if naloxone has been given.

Naloxone is an easy to use life-saving medicine that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose. It is available free to people who may experience, or witness, an opioid overdose.

Naloxone is available in the ACT from CanTEST, through the Civic and Woden Needle and Syringe Programs, over the counter at some pharmacies, or through contacting CAHMA on 02 6253 3643 or info@cahma.org.au.

The risk of overdose is increased for people who use drugs when they are alone, use drugs again after a break and when different drugs are mixed. Alcohol, benzos and opioids are very dangerous to combine.

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Testing and/or safe disposal of small amounts can be done at the CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service located at the City Community Health Centre, 1 Moore Street, Civic. The service is open Thursdays from 10 am to 1 pm and Fridays from 6 pm to 9 pm.

People using this service can have drugs checked, get harm reduction advice, and speak to a nurse about general health issues.

For further details on the CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service, visit the ACT Health website.

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Services 24-Hour Helpline provides drug advice on (02) 6207 9977. The 24-hour Helpline is staffed by professional workers who can provide information on drug and associated issues, as well as support for people managing addiction or dependence.

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Capital Retro8:31 am 04 Jan 23

As if any drug addict is going to read this warning or indeed take any notice of it.

I thought this article was about the deadly vaccine , oh well can only hope

You can hope that they someday develop a deadly vaccine?

That’s a weird fetish you’ve got going there.

I hope the user returned to their supplier to get a refund after this analysis, and told everyone to avoid this dealer.

Great job greens government!

I think your blame is ill directed. This is an outcome of drugs being illicit and criminalised, which is a conservative policy position. Progressive policy tends to argue that the only way to prevent these types of outcomes is to legalise and heavily regulate recreational drug supply.

Alcoholic drinks are legalised and regulated – which has not prevented adverse outcomes either.

How many people have died from poor quality controlled alcohol since its been regulated and controlled?

How well did prohibition work? The problem of drug abuse doesn’t exist in a vacuum and the best solutions are based around harm minimisation, not total harm prevention (which is impossible).

You’re joking chewy, alcohol abuse is one of the leading causes of cancer, obesity, domestic violence, mental health issues, diabetes, the list goes on.

Sam Oak,
Perhaps try and read the comment before replying?

Your response bears no relevance to my points.

Do we include traffic incidents (crashes while driving drunk) and coward’s punches in the calculus? Do we include other forms of aggravation including domestic violence? Do we include metal health outcomes as well? And yes, some people still overdose on alcoholic drinks and some even have direct adverse outcomes (particularly from some poorly thought through home brews).

Ditto to you on my last comment to Sam Oak.

“How many people have died from poor quality controlled alcohol since its been regulated and controlled?”

The rest of your comment is meaningless because there are far more alternatives to prohibition than the current way that alcohol is regulated.

Repeating again. The problem of drug abuse doesn’t exist in a vacuum and the best solutions are based around harm minimisation, not total harm prevention (which is impossible).

Although seeing as you two are raising it, are you supportive making alcohol illegal in the same fashion as other currently illicit drugs?

You seem to be suggesting that the current problems and health outcomes caused by alcohol will be largely reduced if it’s banned.

I’m providing a counterpoint to the suggestion that regulating and controlling the currently illegal drugs will be a panacea. There are culture and behavioural issues to be considered for both sets of problems.

I wasn’t suggesting it would be a panacea as I specifically said in my first comment (harm prevention is impossible), seems we aren’t disagreeing about that.

The question is can better overall outcomes be achieved through a harm minimisation approach rather than criminal sanction, I think yes.

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