Smart Drugs

In the span of about a year, isotonitazene, a novel psychoactive substance (NPS), went from being practically unheard of to being implicated in a fatal overdose spike in the Midwest. While some researchers and media reports are warning about the emergence of the designer drug, one harm reductionist from the region cautions against singling it out.

In the span of about a year, isotonitazene, a novel psychoactive substance (NPS), went from being practically unheard of to being implicated in a fatal overdose spike in the Midwest. While some researchers and media reports are warning about the emergence of the designer drug, one harm reductionist from the region cautions against singling it out.

The issue of “iso,” as the synthetic opioid is colloquially called, surfaced in January 2019, when a Reddit user claimed that “a reputable chinese [sic] vendor had announced” that the drug would be “coming after the new years,” presumably the Chinese New Year on February 5. Then, iso was first detected on-the-ground as early as March 2019 by a Canadian toxicology report, and subsequently in Europe that April, according EMCDA’s 2020 initial report. It turned up in the United States in August 2019, per the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education (CFSRE).

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