Man dies and seven people taken to North East hospital as police warn of possible contaminated drugs

Generic photo shows a man holding tablets
-Credit: (Image: PA Archive/PA Images)

Seven people have been rushed to a North East hospital triggering alarm over a "potential contaminated batch" of drugs.

Cleveland Police reported on Friday that adults had been admitted to North Tees General Hospital in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham after taking sedative Zopiclone. Additionally, authorities are probing the death of a man believed to have consumed Zopiclone.

The force delivered a stark warning: "Officers are warning drug users of a potentially contaminated batch which could cause significant illness or lead to an overdose."

Zopiclone is commonly prescribed to combat insomnia and is effective in helping people fall asleep quicker and reduce nocturnal awakenings. This medication is typically dispensed in tablet form, although it may be available in a liquid formulation under medical instruction.

It acts by stimulating the release of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), producing a soothing effect, as noted by the NHS website.

The health service cautions against alcohol consumption post-Zopiclone usage due to the risk of falling into a "deep sleep where you find it difficult to wake up".

The NHS has indicated potential dependency risks associated with Zopiclone use and recommends prescribing it for a short duration, between two to four weeks, to mitigate diminishing effectiveness as the body adapts.

Anyone who has information, or concerns about drugs in the community, is urged to call Cleveland Police on 101.

Information can also be provided anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.