National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Weekly Briefing


This is the first entry of a new regular column in the NDEWS Weekly Briefing.

We will be speaking to Sentinel Site Directors and NDEWS collaborators, and we will also be soliciting submissions and comments from readers. We are seeking information from the field regarding new and emerging trends in drug use, availability, and associated consequences in your area.

An email submission from Painesville, Ohio, informed NDEWS that “there is an unending and cheap supply of "ice" via cartel manufacturing techniques and virtually no homemade methamphetamine.” The informant shared that there are no longer “smurfs” (pseudophedrine purchasers) in their area.

Dr. Jane Maxwell, NDEWS collaborator, shared this quote from one of her best street sources: “Not sure how much you have kept up with fentanyl showing up in methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA, but there is some interesting (and somewhat confusing) info on dos/don’ts of testing meth and MDMA. Are you hearing of fentanyl showing up in lots of meth or coke?”

Share with us here! We need your input.



Trends in US emergency department (ED) visits during the COVID-19 pandemic

A study published in JAMA evaluated almost 190 million ED visits and found that visit rates for mental health conditions, suicide attempts, all drug and opioid overdoses, intimate partner violence, and child abuse and neglect were higher from March through October 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. This cross-sectional study used data from the CDC’s National Syndromic Surveillance Program to examine national changes. Read the full study here.


Positivity of new synthetic cannabinoid 4F-MDMB-BICA increasing

NPS Discovery recently announced the prevalence of the novel synthetic cannabinoid 4F-MDMB-BICA. According to the drug monograph, 4F-MDMB-BICA, which is structurally similar to 4F-MDMB-BINACA, was first identified in 2018 and was recently found in 8 post-mortem analyses. Read the announcement here.


An update from the Florida Drug-Related Outcomes Surveillance and Tracking System (FROST) 

NDEWS Co-Investigator Dr. Bruce Goldberger and his research team updated the FROST database this week. The update includes State of Florida and National updates, including:

•  Florida Controlled Substance Dispensing Rates, 2015-2020 Overdose Deaths Involving Opioids in the US, 1999-2019 

• Overdose Deaths Involving Cocaine and Psychostimulants in the US, 1999-2019 

• Florida Drug & Alcohol Traffic Crash, 2014-2019 

• Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons by FMEC (all annual and quarterly sections up to 2019)

Find the FROST database here.

Trends and geographic patterns in drug and synthetic opioid overdose deaths — United States, 2013–2019

The CDC released an MMWR report this week on trends in synthetic drug overdose deaths. From 2013 to 2019, the rate of deaths increased 1,040% for deaths involving synthetic opioids and 317% for deaths involving psychostimulants. During 2018–2019, the largest relative increase in synthetic opioid-involved death rates in the US occurred in the West (67.9%), and the largest relative increase in psychostimulant-involved death rates occurred in the Northeast (43.8%). Drug overdose deaths were identified in the National Vital Statistics System multiple cause-of-death mortality files. Read the full report here.


Red Cross offering online training for responding to opioid overdose

A Nashville, Tennessee news outlet reported on a new virtual program being offered by the American Red Cross. The online training will inform participants on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose, the appropriate care to provide, and how to give naloxone using several different products. Find registration for the course here. The news article is here.


As alcohol use rises amid pandemic, hospitals see a wave of deadly liver disease

The Los Angeles Times published an article this week on the increase of alcohol-related liver disease since the COVID-19 pandemic. Reporters interviewed specialists at hospitals affiliated with the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Harvard University and Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. They found rates of admissions for alcoholic liver disease have increased by up to 50% since March 2020. The full article is here.


NDEWS is currently recruiting for a NIDA T32 Postdoctoral Fellow, available immediately. Visit this link to apply.

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