In Glasgow, Scotland criminals are being more creative with their drugs. They have found a way to cook up a new substance that is much cheaper but still gives the same high that heroin brings. And they are not afraid of selling this newly created product to the drug addicts in the city.
A bag is sold at £10 and contains fake heroin with a purity of around 4%. Junkies who purchase the items believe that they are getting the real deal, but in fact they are getting a much more riskier substance than the actual drug.
Even if they manage to get the same high when using fake heroin, it still doesn’t erase the fact that each bag they get of the synthetic opioid has various chemical combinations whose effects are totally unpredictable.
According to a drugs worker who supports addicts in Glasgow, “Drug dealing is about making money.” Dealers want to sell the cheapest products in order to get maximum profit. This is why if they can add something cheap to the product, they will do it – without bothering to check the consequences. Even if they don’t know a thing about what substance they’re using, they simply don’t care because it’s all about making money.
When the formula of a substance is tweaked, chemists can create several variations of a drug. Most of the time, they are a much stronger version of the original one. As a result, these substances become a lot more harder to regulate.
In addition, the newly created drug can trigger unknown side-effects and can increase the risk of overdose. Although the police in Glasgow are trying to stay on-top of the synthetic drugs, new ones are created just as compounds are made illegal.
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), an EU drugs agency, stated: “Among the public health concerns highlighted in the report are new synthetic opioids – often highly potent and sold as heroin to unsuspecting users – posing a high risk of overdose.”
The EMCDDA added that three of the five opioids found in 2014 were from a family of drugs called fentanyls which have been linked to hundreds of deaths in Europe, as well as in the US.
EMCDDA director Wolfgang Götz mentioned that substances like fake heroin pose a challenge for health professionals. He said that the challenges lie with how fast these synthetic drugs appear and the lack of information with regards to their effects and how it could harm people.
The heroin market in Glasgow has been severely thrown into disarray after an elite squad of officers were able to perform a crackdown on their operations. As a result, desperate drug dealers have been topping up their products with legal highs. The problem is that these legal highs are just as deadly as hard drugs or even more severe.
Glasgow police are also looking into a case of heroin contaminated with botulism – a fatal illness that causes paralysis of the arms, legs and the muscles that control breathing – that was buried by a dealer while he was locked up in jail. When he was released, he dug up his stash and started selling them.