Police are warning drug addicts to take care after a batch of contaminated heroin killed seven people in one town.

The seven users all died in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, over a three-week period from April 14 to May 3. And South Yorkshire Police believe the deaths are as a result of them taking heroin laced with anaesthetic to make the effects stronger.

Some long-term addicts have become so used to the effects of heroin that they start seeking out more powerful strains. However, this is extremely dangerous and makes them more likely to fall victim to a fatal overdose.

The deadly batches which have been used in Barnsley are believed to have contained carfentanyl – an elephant tranquilizer which is so potent it is considered by some countries to be a chemical weapon. They are also thought to have included fentanyl, an opioid medication used to relieve post-surgical pain, which is becoming increasingly popular among drug users as it is 100 times stronger than the heroin usually sold by dealers.

The combination of drugs is so dangerous that some suppliers are even thought to be offering naloxone, an emergency medication used to treat people who have overdosed – to those buying it.

Users urged to be aware of risks

South Yorkshire Police’s assistant chief constable Tim Forber said there were concerns that contaminated heroin was being sold in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

He said: “Officers in South Yorkshire are working closely with investigative teams across the Yorkshire and Humber region to piece together the information we have gathered as part of our enquiries into this series of incidents.

“We continue to work with our partners in public health to raise awareness of the risks to drug users and I would urge anyone who has concerns, or has taken a substance and feels unwell, to please seek medical advice immediately.

“I would encourage anyone with information about those who may be involved in illegal drugs supply in Barnsley or anywhere in our county, to please call police on 101 or anonymously make contact with Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

If you believe someone you love may be abusing heroin or another substance, asking them to take a drug test is one way of finding out for sure. Once you know for certain that substance misuse is taking place you will be in a better position to offer support and help your loved one seek the help and treatment they need.

AlphaBiolabs offers peace of mind drug tests, which can be ordered discreetly online. You can choose between a urine home testing kit which can give a fast result in your own home or a hair strand test where you send the sample back to our laboratories for analysis.

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