Residents in Swindon are being warned about the dangers of synthetic opioids.

Swindon Borough Council's director of Public Health is cautioning heroin and crack cocaine users not linked to support services to exercise caution due to a country-wide increase in reports of powerful synthetic opioids being mixed with street drugs.

The threat comes from a new group of drugs known as nitazenes which present a significant risk of overdose, drug-induced hospitalisation, and drug-related death.

Nitazenes are significantly stronger than common opioids like heroin, meaning even small amounts can lead to devastating health effects.

Since May, Swindon has seen a surge in incidents where drug users have suffered health complications after using substances, including heroin and cocaine, which required medical attention.

Although links between these incidents and nitazenes have not been established, the council's public health team is urging drug users to be extra cautious.

They also advise friends and family members of those who might be at risk, should be warned about the harms of synthetic opioids.

The council advises individuals to always test substances before they use them, even if sourced from a known dealer.

The Council's commissioned drug and alcohol support service, Change Grow Live (CGL), provides nitazene test strips.

In case of a positive test result, individuals are advised against using the substance and should contact CGL to report it.

Steve Maddern, director of Public Health at Swindon Borough Council said: "We want to alert everyone about the dangers of coming into contact with nitazenes.

"We know there are a number of people in Swindon who use drugs who are not known to health professionals and it is important they take extra care while these potent opioids are circulating in these substances..

"But we also want to alert their family members and friends to make them aware of the increased risk these powerful drugs pose to their loved ones."

His advice extends to recognising signs of an overdose, making an emergency call to 999 if an overdose is suspected, and administering Naloxone if available, which temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

He added: "CGL can issue an overdose medicine called Naloxone to those that require it."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson from Change Grow Live (CGL) warned: "Many people do not realise they have taken nitazene as currently they are only appearing in the UK as an adulterant in substances such as heroin or opiods, pills and other unprescribed drugs.

"We want to reassure individuals, whether you think you have taken nitazene or another substance, help is available through our services across the country.

"All of our services are fully confidential, free and non-judgemental."