Updated: Saturday, 4th April 2020 @ 10:16am

Health warning issued for heatwave, with experts targeting vulnerable Manchester drug users

Health warning issued for heatwave, with experts targeting vulnerable Manchester drug users

By Matt Scrafton

Drug users have been issued a warning by health experts following recent reports of deaths due to the soaring temperatures.

There have been several cases where pills have been sold and taken as ecstasy across the country, which have resulted in cases of hyperthermia – described as an excessive and uncontrolled rise in body temperature.

As a result, Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust have warned about the dangers of becoming dehydrated in the searing heat.

The recent heatwave has seen temperatures reach as high as 30C, with the Met Office issuing a health warning while more heat is forecasted for the weekend.

Colin Tyrie, Senior Public Health Development Advisor with Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, sent out a warning to drug users.

He said: “With the temperature rising outside it is more important than ever for people to be aware of the risks of dehydration, which can add to the risk levels of drug-induced hyperthermia.

“It is very important that anyone considering using any stimulant drug should maintain a sufficient level of hydration and seek cool places to rest out of the direct heat.”

The recent deaths have been linked to use of the drug Paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA), commonly referred to as ‘Dr.Death’, and is often used in the production of some ecstasy pills.

It has also been suggested that certain individuals are genetically more susceptible to overheating than others – although there is currently no means of identifying those who are more likely to suffer.

Drug takers have been advised to take precautions when taking ecstasy, amphetamines, cocaine or legal highs that have stimulant effects.

And Mr Tyrie has also warned that hyperthermia can turn into a medical emergency relatively quickly – with common signs being an inability to sweat, dry skin, confusion and/or agitation.

“In these situations, it is vital to get to emergency services for treatment, which may require intravenous fluids and appropriate medication,” he said.

“Emergency medical staff may want to know about recent drug use or see packaging of ‘legal highs’.”

Manchester Mental and Social Care Trust also warned against mixing alcohol with drugs, saying people should take the same precaution as regular drug users.

Mr Tyrie added: “PMA has been suggested as a cause of recent deaths, but it is usually bought as ecstasy and PMA is added purely to increase potency.

“It should also be noted that some recent reports have highlighted ecstasy which is of a higher strength without any additional substances added and this simple increase in dosage of any drug can prove fatal to the unknowing customers.”

NHS groups in Manchester have also reinforced the advice, saying the vulnerable, young, old and seriously ill are particularly at risk.

People are being advised to shut windows, keep their rooms chilly by using shades and having cool baths or showers, as well as avoiding the heat whenever possible.

Drinks such as water and fruit juice should be consumed regularly, although tea, coffee and alcohol should be avoided.

If symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, dizziness or cramps persist, then seek medical help.

Meanwhile, Manchester City Council has told those who want to make the most of the weather and go swimming should use the city’s free pools – and not any of the more dangerous alternatives.

The council has warned that canals, reservoirs and rivers should be avoided, given that water is likely to be a lot colder and deeper.

Councillor Rosa Battle, Executive Member for Culture, said: “We’re all enjoying the current heatwave and the last thing we want is to see it being overshadowed by a tragedy.

“There’s no denying the appeal of a swim at times like this, but we’d encourage people who want to take the plunge not to take a risk but instead to head to one of our pools.”

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