Powys Service Manager Barry Eveleigh spoke to My Welshpool following a drop in Class A drugs reaching the Welshpool area as global supply chains are disrupted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
While less drugs coming into the area should generally be a good thing, those dealing with the problem day in, day out say that it creates the perfect storm with prices rising, purity compromised and addicts looking for other ways to get their fix.
MyWelshpool can reveal that the price of heroin alone has doubled in the area over the past six weeks, with experts saying it is “not as strong” suggesting that the highly addictive drug is being cut with “who knows what”.
There are also worrying signs that many addicts are not using a local needle exchange service which prevents the spread of Hepatitis C and other diseases. Only 170 injecting packs have been given out in March and April, compared to 420 for the same period last year, suggesting that needles are being shared.
“We are beginning to see how current travel restrictions are disrupting drug markets,” said Barry Eveleigh, Powys Service Manager at Kaleidoscope.
“We have seen people panicking in light of Covid-19, and those who rely on this illicit market won’t behave rationally. For example, some people with drug dependency problems might try to stockpile their drug of choice. Apart from adding to shortages of the drug, this creates several risks, such as using more of a substance than you planned to over a period of time, or worse, using too much in one go and overdosing.
“It could also mean that there is a shortage of heroin. We know that in the last six weeks the price of heroin has doubled. A £10 bag is now £20 and is not as strong, suggesting that purity is being compromised as heroin is being cut with who knows what.
“We have seen some of our heroin users shift from injecting heroin to injecting codeine tablets, which carries high risks of blood clots, swelling, ulcers and skin infections.”
Barry said that the charity is also seeing an increase in drug users turning to booze which could lead to alcohol-induced overdose scenarios, such as respiratory depression and choking.
“All of these harms put extra demand on health services,” explained Barry. “At present, such cases are limited, but as the crisis continues, who knows what may happen.
“Staff at Kaleidoscope are working flat out, contacting vulnerable clients every day to make sure they are ok and working with them to reduce the harm.
“Thankfully that hard work is paying off and we haven’t seen any overdoses or deaths. We are not only protecting the safety of our clients but also that of our community. For every client of ours that doesn’t have to see a doctor, or visit the hospital, that’s also an extra place for someone in our community to be treated.”
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with drug or alcohol issues, please get in touch with Kaleidoscope Powys by calling 01686 207111.