Scientists identify a new, more severe opioid crisis in the US

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As if the opioid epidemic wasn’t devastating enough, health experts are warning about a new and even more potent class of synthetic opioids called nitazenes.

This group of drugs, originally developed in the 1950s but never approved for medical use, has now resurfaced and poses an even greater risk than fentanyl.

potency and danger

Nitazene is an incredible 1,000 times more potent than morphine and 10 times more potent than fentanyl.

This increased potency greatly increases the risk of overdose, since smaller amounts of nitazenes can produce the same effects as larger doses of other opioids.

According to Alexandra Amaducci, study author and expert in emergency medicine and medical toxicology, Nitazen overdoses are not only more likely, but also more difficult to treat than fentanyl overdoses.

overdose treatment

One of the main methods of treating an opioid overdose is administration of naloxone, an opioid antagonist that can reverse and block the effects of opioids.

The study found that Nitazen overdoses required significantly more naloxone than fentanyl and heroin overdoses.

This suggests that Nitazen overdoses are likely to be more serious and require more aggressive interventions.

Underreported cases

Despite being worryingly potent, nitazenes have not been on the public health radar for long.

These drugs first emerged in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and have so far been responsible for around 200 overdose deaths in North America and Europe.

However, it is suspected that this is a significant undercount due to a lack of proper testing for Nitazene.

The need for public awareness and policy changes

Given the secrecy surrounding the illicit drug trade, many users may not even be aware that the drugs they are taking contain these powerful opioids.

dr Ramin Mojtabai, professor of mental health at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, emphasizes that we must treat this issue as a public health issue and pursue harm reduction approaches, including the widespread dissemination of naloxone and education about its use.


The emergence of nitazenes represents a worrying development in the opioid crisis.

These synthetic opioids are far more potent than their predecessors and more difficult to treat when overdosed. They pose a growing threat that requires urgent and concerted public health action.

If you are interested in cannabis, please read the studies you need to know about cannabis and heart attack, and CBD from cannabis can help prevent COVID-19 infection.

For more health information, check out recent studies showing that medicinal cannabis can help alleviate depression and improve quality of life. The results show that this compound in cannabis can protect the aging brain and treat Alzheimer’s.

The research results can be found in the JAMA Network Open.

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Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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