Iso is a drug that has been found in pockets of communities across the Midwest US and beyond. It was initially distributed as a “designer drug” or “research chemical” in European countries like Germany and Belgium. In 2019, it first showed up in overdose deaths in Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, and Kentucky.
Authorities believe that Iso has played a larger role in overdoses than they can count. It is a drug that is hard to detect via test. All of the 19 overdoses recorded resulted in death, and the information came from their autopsies. Last July, Iso was part of drug seizures in Milwaukee.
Iso is not legally prescribed anywhere globally, and in April 2020, the DEA labeled it as a Schedule I drug, meaning it is dangerous to take, and there is harsh punishment for its sale. The drug has been sold through illicit means on the street online.
The DEA has said that Iso is a substance manufactured in China and trafficked to the US.
What is Iso?
Iso is an illegal synthetic opioid that is often sold on the street and through illicit online sources.
Iso is short for istonitazene, a synthetic version of another opioid called etonitazene, which was first discovered in the late 1950s, according to Healthline. Etonitazene is over one thousand times as strong as fentanyl – the leading cause of overdose death in America. (For reference, fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than morphine. Its medical limits are usually advanced cancer or surgeries. Iso, while not as potent, is still considered to be more powerful than fentanyl.
Iso can come in pill and powder form. It has been sold as fentanyl and found as an adulterant in heroin. It is usually an off-white powder or pill that has a gray tinge. However, it is also added to other drugs and may not be detectable.
Iso and Overdoses
A report in the summer, 2020, said that Iso was the cause of 40-50 overdose deaths in the United States every month. The drug was first detected in the Midwest in 2019.
Iso has been temporarily made illegal by the DEA, a Schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs are considered some of the most dangerous recreational drugs on the market and have a high probability of causing an overdose, death, or other harm. LSD and heroin are both Schedule I drugs.
Opioid users won’t be able to tell if a drug has been spiked with Iso. The FDA recommends that opioid users and their family or housemates obtain Narcan, an opioid overdose reversal drug. Iso may take more than two doses to reverse, and medical attention is necessary.
Who Uses Iso?
Iso is often used by people who use other opioids, such as fentanyl or heroin. Drug users also pick the pill up in clubs. In fact, in Europe, it was sold primarily as a club drug.
Authorities in Milwaukee, where there were seven overdoses by the summer, say that Iso is usually used alongside other substances. With the influx of this new deadly drug, Milwaukee will set records for overdose deaths.
“We are seeing a general trend of iso use among white men between the ages of 26-52,” the health department’s press release stated. “We are also finding that Iso is often being used with other drugs, which increases a user’s risk of an overdose and death.”
Dangers of Iso and Opioid Use
Iso is a potent opioid with a high probability for overdose as well as addiction. Long-term opioid use can lead to a variety of health problems as well as the disease of addiction.
Drugs like Iso can cause neurological problems, cardiovascular issues, and other chronic health problems. Because it has never been tested in a clinical research trial, there can also be other unknown side effects.
People who use Iso may already have a substance use disorder. If not, the drug is highly addictive, and users are at high risk. People who use Iso and begin to develop a tolerance to the drug are in danger of overdose and longer-term health problems.
Iso Addiction and Recovery
Addiction is a painful, serious disorder. When a personally becomes physically addicted to a drug, they develop a tolerance to it and need more of it to get the same effects. With a drug like Iso, this may cause overdose because the drug is simply too potent.
People who develop an addiction to opioids like Iso will experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to quit using. Fever, trembling, body aches and pains, nausea, and vomiting are all common withdrawal symptoms.
Detox facilities can keep the user comfortable as their body begins the detox process.
Getting Help for Iso and Opioid Addiction
Opioid addiction is painful and challenging, but help is available! People addicted to opioids benefit best from a safe, therapeutic detox and treatment recovery plan. Detox will help users stay comfortable and safe while they begin to focus on rebuilding their lives with a strong foundation in recovery.
MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment) is one of the “gold standards” of treatment recommended by the FDA alongside a treatment recovery plan. Drugs like Sublocade (extended-release buprenorphine or BUP-XR) can help users avoid relapse and cravings as they begin to rebuild their life in recovery.
If you or somebody you love has a problem with alcohol or drugs, help is available! Please, give yourself a chance! Call the number at the top of the page to learn more about your options – all calls are confidential.