National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Weekly Briefing


Alert from NDEWS Web Monitoring Team: Increases in Reddit mentions of 3-Chloro-PCP

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, there has been continued online interest in 3-Chloro-PCP since its first appearance in drug Subreddit discussion in May 2020. 3-Chloro-PCP (3'-Cl-PCP) is a dissociative NPS commonly abbreviated to "3-Cl-PCP" in drug Subreddits. Online mentions of the drug grew in Fall 2020, and counts have been sustained by new Reddit users each month of 2021. This continued online trend may signal emerging real-world interest in 3-Chloro-PCP and other designer dissociative drugs.

Methodological note: Data are based on (case-insensitive) 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 3-Chloro-PCP in your area? Let us know here.


Perspective: Addiction should be treated, not penalized

In a recent perspective piece published in Neuropsychopharmacology, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Dr. Nora Volkow urges the United States to take a public health approach to drug use rather than criminalization. The article reviews the inequitable enforcement of drug laws, the ineffectiveness of imprisonment in improving drug problems, and the inequitable access to treatment for substance use disorders. Read the full article here.

Characteristics of fatal gabapentinoid-related poisonings in Australia, 2000–2020

A new study published in Clinical Toxicology described deaths due to drug toxicity in Australia which involved gabapentinoids as a contributory mechanism from 2000 to 2020. A total of 887 cases were identified in data from the National Coronial Information System over this twenty-year period, of which 93% involved pregabalin and 7% involved gabapentin. Additional drugs were present in over 99% of cases, predominantly opioids (90%) and hypnosedatives (77%). Mental health problems, chronic pain, and other pre-existing diseases were also common. Read the full study here.


Prevalence of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in Brazil based on oral fluid analysis of samples collected at electronic music festivals and parties

In a study recently published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers examined the prevalence of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in Brazil through the analysis of oral fluid samples collected at parties and electronic music festivals. From 2018 to 2020, 462 oral fluid samples were collected from eleven parties and two festivals and analyzed with liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Among those reporting drug use, 89% of samples were positive for MDMA, 29% for ketamine, 6% for methylone, and 4% for N-ethylpentylone. While over a third of samples were positive for at least one NPS, only 5% of participants reported recent NPS consumption. Read the full study here.

Detection of two potent synthetic opioids carfentanil and 3-methylfentanyl in forensic investigations during a four-year period, 2017–2020

A new study reported data from post-mortem forensic cases that were associated with the synthetic opioids carfentanil and 3-methylfentanyl from 2017 to 2020. Over the four-year period, 1136 and 153 post-mortem cases submitted to NMS Labs were positive for carfentanil and 3-methylfentanyl, respectively. Fentanyl was the most frequently detected concomitant drug in these confirmed cases. In cases positive for carfentanil, other commonly detected drugs included heroin and cocaine, in addition to other novel synthetic opioids. For 3-methylfentanyl cases, cocaine was the second most prevalent co-occurring drug. Read the full study here.


Telehealth adoption by mental health and substance use disorder treatment facilities in the COVID-19 pandemic

A recent study examined trends in the availability of telehealth services offered by mental health and substance use disorder treatment facilities in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using longitudinal data on 15,691 outpatient behavioral health treatment facilities from SAMHSA's Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator, researchers found that telehealth availability increased by 77% for mental health treatment and by 143% for substance use disorder treatment between January 2020 and January 2021. Facilities which did not accept Medicaid or private insurance payment were less likely to offer telehealth. Despite the increases in availability over the one-year period, 32% of mental health treatment facilities and 43% of substance use disorder treatment facilities did not offer telehealth in January 2021. Read the full study here.

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