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April 9, 2018 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Opioid Fentanyl Found in NZ

Fentanyl is the newest addition to the drug scene in New Zealand, after traces were found at an unnamed music festival in February this year. The sample was found by the non-profit group KnowYourStuffNZ, as part of undercover drug testing carried out at various music festivals over summer.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, it is illegal to provide a venue for drug users to take drugs. This means that any drug testing facilities that might operate at a festival must do so solely by word of mouth, resulting in a lack of knowledge surrounding their existence. According to Wendy Allison of KnowYourStuffNZ, the organisation’s undercover testing at festivals is a “legal grey area”. Allison also said that New Zealand drug laws need updating so that District Health Boards are able to run drug tests for community members as a means of harm reduction.

KnowYourStuffNZ “strongly recommend[s] that users of opioids do not take Fentanyl,” and cautions that “any opioid should be tested for Fentanyl contamination before use”. Fentanyl testing trips “can detect small amounts of Fentanyl and analogues,” and are available from The Hemp Store.

Fentanyl is fifty times more potent than heroin. It is cheaper than heroin, and it is easier to hide. In precise doses — usually with a patch placed on the skin — Fentanyl can be used medicinally as a pain relief, however just three milligrams of the drug is able to kill an average sized man. Opioid users who receive heroin laced with Fentanyl will receive a much higher dose than they would have been expecting, which commonly results in overdose and often, death. Virtually indistinguishable from heroin to the naked eye, Fentanyl is responsible for 20,100 deaths in the USA alone in 2016.Website-Cover-Photo5

According to the New Zealand Drug Foundation, 44% of New Zealanders will try an illicit substance in their lifetime, and National Manager of the New Zealand Needle Exchange Charles Henderson says that heroin use is on the rise.

Naloxone is an opioid antidote that can reverse an overdose if used immediately. In New Zealand Naloxone is only readily available to ambulances and intensive care paramedics. The argument against a wider release of Naloxone in New Zealand is that heroin use is not high enough to merit the availability of the drug. Police and community members are not able to carry the drug on hand, meaning that opioid overdoses are more likely to be fatal.


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