The WEDINOS Annual Report for 2020-21, published by Public Health Wales, has identified that substitutions in the illicit sales of the sedative Diazepam remains alarmingly high, with 57.3 per cent of samples submitted not containing any diazepam at all.
Health experts warn that these drugs, often bought easily online can have serious implications on people’s health as they have no idea what they are actually ingesting, and at what dose.
Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse for Public Health Wales and Programme Lead for WEDINOS said: “The concerns for public health remain as these products are not pharmaceutical grade and, despite their appearance, they are counterfeit. Counterfeit products, as evidenced by WEDINOS can contain different substances and dose ranges.
“This means that individuals who consume these products are not aware of the dose, time of onset of effects, duration of effects or contraindications with other substances or medications and as a consequence are at higher risk of potential health and other harms.
“We would urge anyone requiring this medication to always speak to and source it through a health professional, with a prescription.”
Following easing of Coronavirus restrictions, WEDINOS has seen a substantial rise in activity over the last twelve months, with an increase of 92.6 per cent in sample submissions.
Along with the re-opening of night time economy venues and the return of music festivals, community submissions increased by almost 60 per cent, evidencing a heightened awareness of the WEDINOS service and its benefits in harm reduction.
With this increased number of samples, WEDINOS has also seen a 14.6 per cent increase in the number of substances identified. Benzodiazepines has remained the most commonly identified chemical group of psychoactive substances for half a decade. During 2021-22, a total of 20 benzodiazepines were profiled, with diazepam being both the most commonly submitted substance by purchase intent.
This Year 2021/22:
- 7,457 samples received representing an increase of 92.6 percent from 2020/21.
- 6,345 analysed 85.7 per cent.
- Community samples increased by 59.5 per cent to 4,684.
- 181 substances identified 14.6 per cent.
- 90 different organisations, services and NTE venues 73.1 per cent.
- Median age of sample providers 32 years (range 14 to 80 years).
- Cocaine was the most commonly identified substance.
- Most commonly identified in the community was cocaine, followed by diazepam.
- Criminal justice settings – Mirtazapine was the most commonly identified substance, however, more samples were profiled as “no active compound”.
Public Health Wales produces reports and information to influence national and international policy to ensure it is based on the best evidence to protect and improve health.
Those seeking to receive support for drug or alcohol related concerns can contact the Wales Drug and Alcohol Helpline on Freephone 0808 808 2234, by texting DAN to: 81066 or by visiting dan247.org.uk