Sputnik spoke to Juliane Allan, National Research Manager at Lives Lived Well, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at University of QLD, for more insight on the issue.
Sputnik: The sale of the dangerous opioid, Fentanyl, is being spread across the UK through Chinese eBay-style websites. How significant is this?
Juliane Allan: It’s hard to tell. Just because you can buy it on a Chinese website doesn’t mean you know how many people in the UK are buying it.
I think a lot of people in the UK could get Fentanyl locally and they don’t need to buy it from China; it’s disturbing you can get it in the mail but we still don’t know how many people are buying it.
Juliane Allan: The way it’s available around the world really differs. In Australia and the UK, Fentanyl is a drug used for serious cancer pain and is used for people who have ongoing chronic pain that can’t be relieved by other drugs that aren’t as strong as Fentanyl — like Codeine or Morphine.
Fentanyl is really strong, it’s really addictive – people build up a tolerance really quickly and it’s hard to stop using and if they’re looking for it they don’t really know exactly what it is that they’re buying.
Sputnik: Should anti-drug agencies and addiction programs in the UK be worried about the wave of these dangerous and unknown drugs hitting users in Britain?
The study that we did in Australia with people who used Fentanyl found that their knowledge on what was safe and what wasn’t was quite poor. So people are using it but dying by accident, it’s not like overdose deaths from Fentanyl are people killing themselves, its accidental overdoses.
Authorities in the UK and around the world know that education campaigns, harm reduction campaigns and support for people to stop using opioid drugs through opioid treatment programs are the way prevent problems from these sort of drugs.
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Juliane Allan and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.