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Synthetic opioids

Man-made drugs that mimic the effects of natural opioids (such as opium or heroin) but can be much more deadly. Most synthetic opioids, including nitazenes and fentanyl, are class A drugs which means they're illegal to have for yourself, give away or sell. Some synthetic opioids are used in healthcare as pain relievers or anaesthetics, while others have no legitimate uses and are produced and sold illicitly. Synthetic opioids are often mixed with other drugs, especially heroin, which can increase the risk of overdose.

Also called:

  • Fentanyl
  • acetylfentanyl
  • carfentanyl
  • fentanyls
  • methadone
  • nitazenes
  • oxycodone
  • tramadol

Quick info

How the drug works varies from person to person

How you might feel
Euphoric, relaxed and/or confused, sleepy.
Read more about how it feels
Effects on your body
Effects are similar to natural opioids but can be much stronger, especially when mixed with other drugs, with a higher risk of overdose. Side effects can include respiratory depression, nausea and confusion.
Read more about effects on your body
How long it takes to work
This depends on how it is taken but the effects can be very quick – quicker than heroin.
Read more about how long it takes to work
How long the effects last
How long the effects last and the drug stays in your system depends on how much you’ve taken, your size and what other drugs you may have also taken.
Read more about how long the effects last
Common risks
Overdose and death. Injecting synthetic opioids can damage your veins and arteries.
Read more about the risks
Mixing drugs
Mixing drugs is always risky but some mixtures are more dangerous than others.
Read more about mixing with other drugs

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