High-Risk Drug Alert: Metonitazene mis-sold as cocaine in Melbourne
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High-Risk Drug Alert: Metonitazene mis-sold as cocaine in Melbourne


Victorian residents, please be aware that a high-risk drug alert has gone out, after two patients were admitted to Emergency Departments in Melbourne due to overdoses from Metonitazene-containing white powder mis-sold as cocaine.

Vic Health put out this alert on August 4th, 2023:


“White powder containing the potent opioid ‘metonitazene’ has been mis-sold as cocaine in Melbourne.

The Department of Health is aware of two serious recent hospitalisations associated with metonitazene. Patients experienced strong and fast-acting effects, leading to loss of consciousness, respiratory depression and hypoxia (insufficient oxygen for normal functioning).

Metonitazene is a potent [opioid] that is not often seen in Australia. Its potency is similar to fentanyl, estimated to be between 30 and 200 times that of morphine. This means it can produce life-threatening toxic effects in very small amounts. Metonitazene usually appears as a white, off-white or beige powder.”


This comes off the back of other states experiencing similar issues in the recent past, including overdoses in:

  • South Australia recently, when one was hospitalised and another passed away due to overdoses on Protonitazene;
  • Queensland earlier last month, when fake Xanax tablets containing Protonitazene were being sold illegally; and
  • Victoria last September, when Protonitazene was being mis-sold as Ketamine.



What are –nitazenes?

The Alcohol and Drug foundation recently published a fact sheet  with useful information for consumers about nitazenes. The fact sheet contains a range of information about Nitazenes, including the effects, the risk of overdose, mixing with other drugs and ways to reduce risk of harm.



How to reduce your risk:





If you experience adverse drug effects, or are present when someone has an unexpected reaction, seek help immediately by calling Triple Zero (000).

Naloxone is a user-friendly medication capable of swiftly reversing opioid overdose, making it a safe choice even when uncertainty exists about opioid consumption. This life-saving drug is conveniently available at pharmacies without the need for a prescription.

Always bear in mind that all drugs, including alcohol, carry inherent risks. Therefore, it is essential to exercise caution:

  • Be vigilant about the potential circulation of false or contaminated drug products within your community, irrespective of official warnings.
  • Prioritize your safety by choosing a safe, secure environment and surrounding yourself with trustworthy individuals.
  • Remember that even seemingly ‘pure’ drugs can lead to severe side effects, fatalities, and hazardous interactions with other medications or pharmaceutical drugs.”


Where can I go for more information?

Finally, if you, or anyone you know would like to know more about cutting down or stopping on your own, visit our self-help section for more information.

See also the Alcohol and Drug Foundation fact sheet for more information about nitazenes and their effects.