By Jack Smith Experts in the field of illicit drugs are concerned that sensationalist news reporting may lead to dangerous new drug abuse trends in Australia. Media hype surrounding new so-called “zombie” drugs reaching Australia have emerged this year after Krokodil, the Russian synthetic morphine, was said to have hit our shores. WA Substances Users Association outreach coordinator, Paul Dessauer, believes reports like these only serve to breed fear and misinform. Dessauer notes that the use of Krokodil outside of Russia and former Soviet Republics has never been confirmed. “The name “zombie drug” is very appropriate as, despite clear statements from the DEA, the ONDCP, and the ECMDDA, this is one of those urban legends that refuses to die,” he said. Opioid abuse is often a result of the quick high from injecting drugs intravenously Similar reports have appeared in Queensland more recently with the Gold Coast said to be in the grip of a ‘Flakka’ craze. Flakka is a synthetic cathinone stimulant and, like Krokodil, is described as a “zombie” drug, which can cause violent hallucinations and has even been linked to psychosis-induced cannibalism. Professor Steve Allsop of the National Drug Research Institute says that reports of “zombie” drugs in Australia are largely overblown and distract from legitimate substance abuse concerns. Allsop doubts hallucinogenics pose a real threat to Australians – he identifies opioid analgesics and related substances as a priority for drug prevention agencies in Australia. “Prevalence of new psychoactives is low in Australia, my bigger concerns would be to keep a watchful eye on fentanyl-related new psychoactives/derivatives,” he said. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic which is prescribed to treat patients with severe pain. Recently the drug has been used to lace heroin and increase potency and this has led to a global rise in opioid related overdose deaths. There are legitimate concerns that Fentanyl could reach Australia but so far there have been few confirmed reports.