“Bucketloads” of fake Valium tablets costing as little as 20p each are flooding into Dundee from Liverpool – and it’s claimed they are being sold openly in the city centre.
Dealers are believed to be buying up the tablets in batches of 5,000 to sell on to users – who are not being told the strength of what they’re taking.
The “fake” tablets are often etizolam and alprazolam – part of the benzodiazepines group of medicines to which Valium belongs.
However, they can be far stronger and take longer to kick in.
A source with knowledge of dealers in Dundee, who declined to be identified, told the Tele: “These tablets are flooding the streets and killing people. I’ve lost friends in the last month.
“It’s really easy to get hold of them.
“People are openly selling them in the city centre.
“These pills are dangerous. If you take about 10 of them you don’t remember a thing.
“They also take a lot longer to kick in so you don’t think you’re feeling them.
“By the time you do, you’ve put away 20 or 30 and that can kill.”
He added that users of drugs such as heroin were knowingly buying them to fend off withdrawal symptoms – despite knowing the risks.
“They’re stronger than diazepam (Valium). If you’re a heroin addict and can’t afford that, you can buy 20 or 30 to get rid of the shakes,” the source said.
“People just don’t realise how dangerous these are.
“They just want the strongest things they can get their hands on.
“Some of these are 1,000mg or 2,000mg – a normal diazepam tablet is about 10mg.
“These tablets are five times, maybe even 10 times, stronger than diazepam.
“But people are desperate. It’s sad.
“And as high as some of the stats have been, they’re going to be even higher next year.”
Statistics published by the National Records of Scotland show substances associated with fake Valium are now linked to more than half of all deaths in which benzodiazepines are implicated.
In 2015, substances such as etizolam were linked to one in five drug deaths in Dundee.
Last year, that figure rose to one in two.
Dave Barrie, service manager at addiction support service Addaction Dundee, said vans carrying the tablets are coming into the city from Liverpool.
He said: “I was speaking with someone recently who had heard about small buckets containing 5,000 tablets.
“Benzos such as etizolam, while similar to Valium, can be potentially lethal when taken in unknown quantities and mixed with drugs such as heroin.
“The majority of the group taking these are the most vulnerable people in Dundee, so there’s a real need for services and for compassion from family and friends to really understand the difficulties of addiction.”