National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Weekly Briefing


Alert from NDEWS Web Monitoring Team: Increases in Reddit discussions of HXE in February-May of 2021

According to the NDEWS Web-Monitoring Team, led by Dr. Elan Barenholtz and PhD candidate Paul Morris of the Machine Perception and Cognitive Robotics (MPCR) Lab at Florida Atlantic University, a recent spike in mentions of Hydoxetamine in drug Subreddit forums indicates rising interest in an anticipated and newly available psychoactive substance. Also known as HXE and 3-HO-2’-oxo-PCE, Hydroxetamine is a derivative of the designer dissociative drug Methoxetamine (MXE), which has been scheduled in several states. Hydroxetamine is reported to have similar psychoactive properties to, and is an analog of, DMXE, another HXE derivative (see NDEWS Weekly Briefing, Issue 28). This online trend may signal a recent increase in real-world interest surrounding the drug, which appears to be newly available from gray market vendors, where it is marketed as a research chemical.

Methodological Note: Data based on word counts derived from algorithmic monitoring of ~80 drug-oriented subreddits. No personally identifiable or post-specific information is incorporated in this monitoring process.

Have you heard of Hydroxetamine in your area? Let us know here!

Substance use during COVID-19

NDEWS Co-Investigator Dr. Catherine Striley and NIDA T32 predoc published a review in Current Opinion in Psychiatry (Co-Edited by PI Linda B. Cottler) on the convergence of COVID-19 and increased use of alcohol, cannabis, cigarettes, fentanyl, heroin, and other opiates; substance users were at increased risk for death or hospitalization due to COVID-related events as well. Read the full review here.

Vaping: what psychiatrists need to know

Dr. Striley and another colleague published a piece on vaping in Psychiatric Times. The article examines the psychological background of vaping and provides resources for clinicians to help patients quit smoking. Read the full piece here.


European Drug Report 2021

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) released its 2021 drug report this week. Using data from 29 countries, the EMCDDA found that the drug market continued to adapt during COVID-19 both in trafficking and distribution. Existing commercial chains were commonly used instead of human traffickers and using new encrypted message and social media services became more commonly used for distribution. Read the full report here.

New benzodiazepines in Europe

The EMCDDA also released an update on benzodiazepines this week. As of February 2021, 30 new benzodiazepines were tracked through the EU Early Warning System. The illegal market grew during COVID-19 and the drugs commonly found were etizolam and flualprazolam. Read the full report here.



Schedules of controlled substances: Placement of 5 synthetic cannabinoids into Schedule I

From the Federal Register: The DEA placed 5 synthetic cannabinoids permanently into Schedule I of Controlled Substances this week. Read more from the Federal Register here. Read the rule from the DEA here.

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