Authorities have been made aware of dangerous synthetic opiates circulating in the West Midlands. There is an increased risk of overdose and death because these synthetic opiates are stronger than usual, or because these drugs are contaminated with more dangerous substances.

A co-ordinated response is underway, spearheaded by the West Midlands Local Resilience Forum Strategic Coordinating Group. This partnership involves West Midlands Police, the Local Authorities, West Midlands Ambulance, HM Coroner, the NHS and the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID).

The local authority Directors of Public Health across the region are actively working with local substance misuse treatment partners to reduce harm and raise awareness of this new threat. To ensure the safety of the community, the group has worked closely with treatment providers and community partners to directly send alerts to individuals who use drugs, drug workers and treatment providers.

Advice and guidance has been shared with healthcare professionals to effectively support and treat patients. Anyone using drugs is strongly urged to seek support, advice and treatment from their local drugs and alcohol treatment provider. 

Moreover, we want to emphasise that Naloxone, an antidote to opiate overdoses, can save lives. It is readily available across the region. Local treatment providers can provide training and Naloxone to individuals using drugs as well as to first responders who can administer this life saving treatment quickly.

Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health for Birmingham City Council, and Chair of the regional Strategic Co-ordinating Group responding to this challenge said: “Recently, there has been an increase in synthetic opioids entering the drug market due to global changes in drug supply. These synthetic drugs are stronger and are often mixed with other substances by dealers, resulting in an increased risk of overdose and death.

“Together with our partners, we are committed to raising awareness of the dangers of drug use, and ensuring people know how to access support and treatment for themselves, their family, or friends. We encourage them to contact their local treatment provider to get the support that is available to them.

“In collaboration with first responders and community providers we are actively working to increase access to Naloxone as it has the potential to save lives. We encourage those interested to contact their local substance misuse treatment providers.

“West Midlands Police is leading the criminal investigation and response to tackling the availability of drugs in the region.” Assistant Chief Constable Jayne Meir from West Midlands Police, said: “We are continuing to liaise with partners around the increase in dangerous drugs across the West Midlands.

“We fully support the current response working alongside health and local authorities to reduce the risk to our vulnerable communities. If anyone has information on drug dealing, please contact us so we are able to take action.”