The death of a Hawke's Bay man has prompted police and health organisations to warn the public of the "severe" dangers of psychoactive substances.

The 55-year-old Maraenui man suddenly died on Wednesday afternoon.

"There is a possibility the death is linked to the use of a non-approved psychoactive substances, commonly known as synthetic drugs or 'syns'," Inspector Chris Wallace, Area Manager of Prevention said.

The death has been referred to the coroner.


It is understood the man purchased whatever it was that he ingested from a Maraenui address.

Police were aware that other 'syns' users in Napier have suffered severe reactions in the past few days.

Prior to the death, police executed four search warrants in Napier on Monday, where three men, aged 23, 44 and 53, have been charged with possession and supply of synthetic material.

The 53-year-old-man was remanded in custody and will next appear in Napier District Court on September 27, while the other two will appear in court on August 29.

"We would strongly advise against anyone purchasing synthetic drugs as they are extremely dangerous and cause significant harm to our community," Wallace said.

"Any form of drug use in our community has a detrimental impact on the individual, their family and the wider community. It can drive many aspects of crime, including family harm, dishonesty offences and serious assaults."

Last Saturday, a man died on Auckland's Queen St in daylight after using synthetic drugs.

The last time a deadly batch reared its head, in July last year, it was blamed for a spate of seven deaths within weeks and sparked an unprecedented joint warning from the chief coroner and police.

About 30 deaths have provisionally been linked to synthetic drugs nationwide since June 2017.

District prevention manager Inspector Dean Clifford said synthetic drugs were prevalent and had a "hold with a certain section of our community and that hasn't abated unfortunately".

Police wanted to "disrupt suppliers and the manufacturers" but also wanted to ensure people who were addicted received appropriate help.

A Hawke's Bay District Health Board spokeswoman said Hawke's Bay Hospital has not had any synthetic drug related presentations into its Emergency Department in the past week.

However, the DHB's mental health and addictions service has noticed an increase in people seeking help (self-presentations and referrals of people) with problematic use of multiple substances.

Hawke's Bay District Health Board's manager of community mental health, Justin Lee said they continued to support and work closely with agencies and services regarding drug use and addiction problems.

He encouraged anyone who was experiencing problems, or knew someone who was, to reach out for help.

"There are many ways they can do this, such as seeking help locally through addiction support networks, the DHB's community mental health teams, referrals via GP-Primary care or other services, or by contacting national helplines where people can also speak freely and confidentially with trained counsellors."

Inspector Wallace said they are working closely with other agencies to ensure that all members of the community are well informed about the dangers of taking psychoactive substances.

If you, or someone you know, is using synthetic drugs, you are urged to stop immediately and seek help by contacting your local GP, ringing the Alcohol and Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797 or texting 8681 seven days a week to speak to a trained counsellor.

Anyone with information concerning the sale and supply of synthetics is asked to contact their local police station or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.