National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Weekly Briefing


Alert from NDEWS Web Monitoring team: Increases in Reddit discussions of DMXE, October 2020–March 2021

According to the NDEWS Web Monitoring Team, led by Dr. Elan Barenholtz and PhD candidate Paul Morris at the Machine Perception and Cognitive Robotics (MPCR) Lab at Florida Atlantic University, online discussion of the dissociative hallucinogen drug DMXE (deoxymethoxetamine) has increased in 2020 and 2021. DMXE is described as a designer replacement for MXE (methoxetamine), a designer dissociative not yet scheduled in the US. Algorithmic monitoring of ~80 drug-oriented subreddits has revealed consistent and frequent mentions of the term "DMXE" in drug subreddits since the release of DMXE listings on dark markets in October 2020. Commenters report DMXE as a highly-anticipated functional analog of MXE. The trend of unique commenters participating in DMXE discussion in early 2021 indicates growing interest.

Have you heard anything about DMXE? Let us know here.



Opioid exposure associated with poppy consumption reported to Poison Control Centers and the US Food and Drug Administration

A study published in Clinical Toxicology examined adverse events associated with exposure to poppy products. Data sourced from the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS) identified 18 nonfatal overdoses and three deaths likely attributed to poppy consumption, most involving poppy seed tea. They also found that many of these overdoses were due to intentional use of poppy. Read the full study here and the emerging trends press release from NIDA here.

Variation of drugs involved in acute drug toxicity presentations based on age and sex: An epidemiological approach based on European emergency departments (EDs) 

Another study in published in Clinical Toxicology examined trends in drug toxicity among 22 EDs in 14 European countries. Cannabis, new psychoactive substances, and hallucinogens were the most commonly detected substances in patients up to 20 years of age; amphetamines, ketamine, and cocaine were most commonly detected in the 20- to 39-year age group; and opioids and benzodiazepines were most commonly detected in patients up to 40 years of age. Read the study here.



Patterns of alcohol and drug utilization in trauma patients during the COVID-19 pandemic at six trauma centers 

A study published in Injury Epidemiology explored the impact of stay-at-home orders on alcohol and drug use among admissions to six trauma centers in the United States. The study found significant increases in alcohol screens, drug screens, and the number of screenings for both alcohol and drugs between a period of pre-COVID-19 and during COVID-19 and during the implementation of social distancing orders. Read the full study here.


Brief report: The impact of COVID-19 on emergency department (ED) overdose diagnoses and county overdose deaths 

The American Journal on Addictions published a report this week concerning the impact of the COVID‐19 pandemic on drug overdoses, using data from ED visits for overdose and coroner‐verified overdose deaths in Kentucky. Investigators discovered that ED overdose diagnoses increased by 31% and that a large increase in deaths occurred after the state's declaration of emergency. Read the full report here.

Ingenuity and resiliency of syringe services programs on the front lines of the opioid overdose and COVID-19 crises 

A qualitative study published this week in Translational Research examined how syringe service programs (SSPs) adapted to challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers conducted 36 in-depth interviews with program representatives from 18 programs and found that with limited staffing and reduced budgets, SSPs innovated using telemedicine and a commitment from staff to increase naloxone delivery and other medications for opioid use disorder. Read the full study here.


DEA Special Testing and Research Laboratory releases annual Emerging Threats Report

The DEA Special Testing and Research Laboratory released their annual Emerging Threats report for 2020 this week. 5F-MDMB-PICA and MDMB-4en-PINACA were the most reported synthetic cannabinoids and eutylone was the most reported synthetic cathinone in 2020. The most prevalent new psychoactive substance (NPS) benzodiazepine in 2020 was flualprazolam. There were 17 substances reported for the first time in 2020. Read more from the DEA here.


DEA Toxicology Testing Program (TOX) identifies new synthetic cathinone alpha-Piperidinobutiophenone (α-PipBP) in the United States

DEA TOX recently released an alert regarding the identification of a newly identified NPS in the United States. The synthetic cathinone alpha-Piperidinobutiophenone (α-PipBP) was sourced in January 2021 from samples from individuals under court-ordered urinalysis in Alabama. There have been no previous reports of α-PipBP being detected in biologic samples. Read the published monograph for α-PipBP here.


Blount County police taking action against new drug ‘Phrenze Red’

A news station in Alabama reported on the proliferation of the new drug 'Phrenze Red' in the region. Last week, four individuals overdosed on the gas-station supplement. Local officials are pushing to schedule 'Phrenze Red' as a Schedule II narcotic. Naloxone has no effect on the substance. Read the full story here.

Methamphetamine disguised as prescription pills sold to Long Islanders

A story in a Long Island newspaper reported that methamphetamine has been pressed into pills and marketed as Adderall. The pills are currently on the illegal market locally, and three arrests have been made. Unintentional dosing of unknown substances can cause fatal overdoses. Read the full story here.

NPR: Sharp, “off the charts” rise in alcoholic liver disease among young women 

A feature from NPR examined the increase of alcoholic liver disease and alcoholic hepatitis among women. According to the report, cases are up 30% over the last year at the University of Michigan's health system. In the US, more than 44,000 people died of alcoholic liver disease in 2019. Women are specifically of concern as the COVID-19 pandemic has increased remote learning and pressures at home. The full article is here.

DEA seizures of heroin and fentanyl increase across North Dakota in 2020 

The DEA issued a press release documenting a 223% increase in the number of seizures of fentanyl and heroin in North Dakota in 2020 over 2019. The drugs were found mostly in counterfeit pills. Read the full release here.

Share your research, news, and events through our submission form

Share your comments on our newsletter through our feedback form

Follow NDEWS on Twitter: @NDEWSnews