Child treated for overdose as vapes spiked with nitazenes

Joanna Morris,BBC News, North East and Cumbria

Middlesbrough Council A large number of vapesMiddlesbrough Council

Nitazenes, which are more potent than heroin, have been found in illegal vapes used by children

A child has been treated for an opiate overdose after using a “potentially fatal” black market vape, health officials have said.

Vapes laced with illegal drugs like Spice have led to children in Teesside needing urgent medical attention, Middlesbrough Council warned.

One young person needed immediate treatment with Naloxone, a medication used to treat opiate overdoses, after inhaling from an illicit device.

The joint director of public health for the South Tees area, Mark Adams, said: “The truth is, these illegal devices can kill.”

Mr Adams said the problem was not confined to Teesside, but was happening in “cities and towns around the country”.

Health officials are now writing to families urging them to recognise the signs of illegal vapes as children across the country are targeted with devices laced with deadly drugs.

“They often look similar to legal devices,” Mr Adams said.

“But the fact they hold more puffs or a greater amount of vaping liquid is a tell-tale sign they’re not safe or legal.

“We simply do not know what these devices are being filled with, and neither does your child.

“But what we do know is that young people across the UK have been falling seriously ill after inhaling drugs like Spice and nitazenes, a synthetic drug similar to heroin, but many times more potent.”

Sold on Snapchat

Dealers are said to be using Snapchat and other social media sites to target young people and sell them vapes.

A statement from Middlesbrough Council said the illegal devices, dozens of which were recently seized by Cleveland Police, were linked to organised crime and exploitation.

The town’s mayor, Chris Cooke, said: “We have staff going into schools and meeting headteachers, while frontline professionals have been trained to use lifesaving Naloxone medication.”

Cleveland Police is urging anyone with information about illicit vape suppliers to contact the force.

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