Serious health threats of novel adulterants of the street he
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The COVID-19 pandemic and a consequent nationwide lockdown in India for several weeks had restricted the access to street heroin and treatment for substance abuse. Use of cutting agents to increase the volume or psychoactive effect has been widely practised under such circumstances.

A patient with opioid use disorder chased heroin with an unknown cutting agent to enhance psychoactive effect from the limited quantities of heroin. He suffered from an abrupt onset sedation, weakness, postural imbalance, slurred speech, cognitive dysfunctions and disinhibited behaviour. Symptoms rapidly reversed following abstinence and initiation of buprenorphine–naloxone. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometric analysis of the adulterant revealed high concentrations of benzodiazepines and barbiturates, alongside the usual cutting agents—caffeine and acetaminophen.

Abrupt reduction in availability of ‘street drugs’ in conjunction with poor healthcare access can lead to the use of novel adulterants with potentially serious clinical and public health implications.