Fears about a rise in drug deaths in Fife have been heightened after it emerged potentially lethal pills are circulating.
Substance misuse group SMART Recovery Fife has revealed it received an initial alert about tablets contaminated with the opioid fentanyl being sold as Valium in the Cardenden area in recent weeks.
Fentanyl is normally used to treat severe pain, assist with end-of-life care, and is often more potent than heroin.
Concerns about the presence of the tablets are now being shared by addiction support agencies in towns across the region – prompting a warning to drug users about the risks.
With many GPs reluctant to prescribe Valium, criminal gangs are selling fake ‘vallies’ or ‘blues’ online at a fraction of the cost of genuine tablets, with illegal laboratories understood to be churning out blister strips of tablets for wider sale on the streets.
However, police are concerned the street Valium, first found in Cardenden, has been laced with fentanyl.
A spokesperson for SMART Recovery Fife, which is associated with the Fife Alcohol and Drug Partnership, warned people of the dangers and urged drug users to seek Naloxone, which reverses overdoses, from support agencies.
“Due to the strength of fentanyl compared with other opioids there is an increased likelihood of overdose and death,” they said.
“Like other opioids, fentanyl overdose can be reversed by using Naloxone thus its important you ask for a take home Naloxone kit even if you are a Street Valium user.”
Valium is the brand name for diazepam, part of the benzodiazepine family of drugs that act like a sedative and are prescribed to treat anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, muscle spasms and some seizures.
However, fake Valium pills were linked to a 43% rise in the number of people in Glasgow who died of drugs overdoses between January and October in 2018, while several other Scottish cities have experienced similar problems amid claims that the drugs are becoming “cheaper than chips”.
Drug agency Turning Point has also suggested that many of the tablets are bought online, where 10,000 tablets can be bought for £800, or 8p a pill.
Police Scotland previously issued a warning last summer about white tablets emblazoned with the logo ‘Roche’, the number 10 and a half score on the reverse, as most likely to contain fentanyl.
Officers warned it can be 10 times stronger than diamorphine and can lead to an increase of overdose and potentially death.
Police say any tablets should be immediately handed to the police for forensic examination.
The latest alert also comes after we highlighted the plight of a teenage boy in Ballingry who was found close to death in August 2019 after taking a fake Valium pill.
Lynn Berry took to social media to highlight the lethal threat of illegal substances and pills after her son Brodie Canning was found by police at an address in the town.
“If we hadn’t found Brodie when we did, god forbid what could have happened,” said Lynn.
“We’ve been told he was found just in time, any later and Brodie could have died.
“The problem is people don’t know what they are taking until it is too late.”
At that time, police said they believed it was an isolated case, but concerns about the presence of new fentanyl contaminated drugs are growing once more.
Anyone who has any information in relation to street Valium then please contact Police Scotland on 101 or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Addiction support is available at Fife Alcohol and Drug Partnership by calling 01592 321321.