National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Weekly Briefing


The College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) finished its virtual conference yesterday. You can still get information about the conference by following #CPDD21 on Twitter. Save the date for next year: Minneapolis June 11 - 15, 2022. 



Adolescent drug use before and during COVID-19

A new study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence analyzed the Monitoring the Future results; the authors examined the past-month prevalence and perceived availability of drugs among adolescents in the US during COVID-19. Perceived availability of marijuana, alcohol, and vaping devices declined, but there were no reductions in prevalence of marijuana or binge drinking. The study is published here. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) also released a press release about the study here.

Changes in online psychoactive substance trade via Telegram during COVID-19

A new study from investigators in Amsterdam in European Addiction Research evaluated the free encrypted messenger service, Telegram, for drug trade before and during COVID-19. Researchers found an increase in psychoactive substance trade during the pandemic. Read the full study here.



Metonitazene in the US — Forensic toxicology assessment of a potent new synthetic opioid using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry

NDEWS SAG member Dr. Barry Logan and team published a forensic study in Drug Testing and Analysis this week about metonitazene. It was confirmed in 20 forensic postmortem cases and was the only opioid identified in 30% of cases; it was also found in combination with fentanyl (55%) and NPS benzodiazepines, opioids, and hallucinogens (45%). Read the full paper here.

Identifying counties at risk of high overdose mortality burden during the fentanyl epidemic in the US - Predictive statistical modeling study

NDEWS SAG member Dr. Dan Ciccarone and team published a new study in Lancet Public Health this week. They applied a new statistical modeling approach to predict overdose rates using public data between 2013 and 2018 among 3,106 US counties and found that this modeling approach outperformed the benchmark strategy across all metrics. This study showed how a statistical modeling approach can be used to identify counties at risk of experiencing overdose death outbreaks. Read the full study here.

Associations of suicidality trends with cannabis use as a function of sex and depression status

Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health, and fellow researchers, published a study in JAMA Network Open on trends in suicidality, including plans, ideation, as well as suicide death, with respect to cannabis use. From 2008 - 2019 adults who used cannabis daily increased from 3.6 million to 9.8 million. At this same time, the number of adults with suicidal ideation increased from 8.3 million to 12 million. The study results suggest that daily cannabis use, and even non-daily cannabis use were associated with a higher prevalence of suicidality more significantly in women than in men. Read the full study here.


Federal sentencing guidelines

The US Senate Judiciary Committee is examining federal sentencing regarding different types of cocaine. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) "strongly supports eliminating the current disparity in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine,” said Regina LaBelle, acting head of the ONDCP. Senator Dick Durbin said the original policy undermined trust in the criminal justice system. Read the testimony here. An NBC article on the hearing is here.

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