Drug users in Shetland are being warned to beware of an unusually strong batch of heroin which could kill anyone who has lost their tolerance to the drug.
According to Community Alcohol and Drugs Service Shetland, recent major busts may have led to heroin being rushed onto the market to meet high demand in the islands before it was cut to its normal strength, or a new dealer may be offering better-quality heroin from a different source or with the intention of luring customers from rivals.
CADSS manager Gill Hession said the heroin could be twice the strength of the normal supply, which is only four or five per cent pure, increasing the danger of overdose and death. Users are being advised to try much smaller amounts first to test its potency instead of risking a dose that could turn out to be twice what they are used to.
She said: “People most at risk from a strong batch of heroin are those who have stopped using and then made the decision to start again. They are not able to use as much heroin and so the risk or overdose is enormous. Alongside that, if we’ve got a particularly strong batch of heroin compared to what they’re used to then it makes it even more dangerous.”
Posters have been put up to inform visitors to CADSS and workers have been issuing advise to clients using the needle exchange service.
Local users often combine their heroin with other depressants like alcohol and Valium. Ms Hession said the mixing of such substances which slow the breathing and heart-rate was often what killed people in Shetland.
She said over the years it had been shown that the users who were more likely to die were those not getting help from CADSS and other support services.