National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Weekly Briefing


Alert from the NDEWS Web Monitoring Team: Online mentions of pregabalin

Context: This alert was prompted by a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) request for information on coinciding reports of pregabalin and nitrous oxide misuse in Europe.

What was found? A discussion trend for the drug pregabalin has grown steadily since 2019. In Summer 2021, a sharp increase in total mentions of the drug led to a higher sustained discussion baseline. Total mentions have increased to a new peak level in Summer 2022.

To what does pregabalin refer? Pregabalin is a drug prescribed to treat seizures, anxiety, and neuropathic pain.

How is it being discussed? While pregabalin discussion in drug Subreddits focuses on recreational use, many commenters discuss receiving a prescription for the drug. Commenters discuss developing tolerance to and experiencing withdrawal symptoms from taking pregabalin.

Drug Terms: Pregabalin, Lyrica. 

NDEWS Methods to Detect New and Emerging Psychoactive Substances Presented by
New and Emerging Scientists

Monday, June 13, 2022
3:45 PM - 5:15 PM CT
Room: Minneapolis ABC

Linda B. Cottler, PhD, MPH Co-Chair
PI, NDEWS; NIDA T32 Director; University of Florida

Marsha Lopez, PhD, MHS Co-Chair
Chief, Epidemiology Research Branch; National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health

Nicole Fitzgerald, BA Speaker
NIDA T32 Predoc Fellow; University of Florida
Drug Seizures and Poisoning Exposures: Collaborations with HIDTA and RADARS for Monitoring Trends in Drug Use and Availability in the U.S.

Nae Won, MPH Speaker
NIDA T32 Predoc Fellow; University of Florida
Rapid Street Reporting: Identifying Emerging Drugs and Their Adverse Effects in the Field

Paul Morris, MS Speaker
Doctoral Candidate; Florida Atlantic University
Web Monitoring of New Psychoactive Substance Trends in Drug Subreddit Discussion

Andrew McCabe, MPH Speaker
NIDA T32 Predoc Fellow; University of Florida
Real-Time 911 Dispatch Data to Monitor Overdose Events in the U.S.

Schedules of controlled substances: Placement of Methoxetamine (MXE) in Schedule I

The Drug Enforcement Administration permanently placed 2-(ethylamino)-2-(3-methoxyphenyl)cyclohexan-1-one (methoxetamine, MXE) in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act effective June 6, 2022. Read the full scheduling here.

An alert from the NDEWS Web Monitoring Team shows Subreddit discussion for the drug Methoxetamine (MXE) has decreased from previous baseline levels before 2021. This recent trend indicates a decline in popularity of the drug, coinciding with its proposed classification as a Schedule I controlled substance. MXE is an NPS with dissociative effects. MXE has been featured in Reddit discussions for many years; since 2021 discussion has focused on the relative unavailability of MXE compared to other dissociative NPS.


NPS Discovery Drug Checking Q2 2022

NPS Discovery published their Drug Checking Q2 2022 report earlier this week. This report provides up-to-date information regarding the drug supply in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Read the full report here.

NPS Discovery: Announcement of newly identified novel psychoactive substance N-cyclohexyl butylone in the US

Earlier this week NPS Discovery announced the identification of a novel psychoactive substance, N-cyclohexyl butylone. The new substance is classified as a novel stimulant and substituted cathinone. Read about its structure, its appearance and its scheduling, among other details, here.


A qualitative investigation exploring why dance festivals are risky environments for drug use and potential adverse outcomes 

A study published in Harm Reduction Journal by NDEWS Co-Investigator Joseph Palamar, aimed to determine festival-specific risk factors for adverse outcomes related to drug use. They identified four themes: inexperienced attendees, risky drug purchasing, risky drug taking, and environmental risk factors. People who use drugs to enhance their festival experience might be at risk for adverse health outcomes, especially if they are inexperienced using drugs in these settings. Read the full study here. Image source.

Need for comprehensive and timely data to address the opioid overdose epidemic without a blindfold

A recently published article written by NIDA researchers and led by Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, discusses the need for real-time, disaggregated data to identify which groups of individuals are most at-risk so that prevention and treatment services can be targeted efficiently to address the opioid crisis at the local level. Read the full article here.


After 3 teens overdose, school districts warn of fentanyl-laced ecstasy pills

On May 25, 2022, three teenage girls were found unconscious in a Los Angeles County home after taking ecstasy pills that were allegedly contaminated with fentanyl. Blue circular tablets that had been purchased from an online dealer selling ecstasy were reportedly crushed and snorted. Following the alert from county health officials, Los Angeles Unified School District sent a letter to parents warning of a "strong likelihood" of ecstasy pills contaminated with fentanyl in the area. Read the full article here.

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