National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Weekly Briefing

A special message from NDEWS

Principal Investigator

Dr. Linda Cottler

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of the new NDEWS team, I want to officially welcome you to our tenth Weekly Briefing newsletter. We now have 590 new subscribers to the Briefing. We will never clutter up your inbox with chatter; however, we do want your input, which you can give us after each article by clicking the "Share your thoughts" button.

Also, we love our Twitter followers. Help us disseminate data by inviting some of your colleagues to follow us on Twitter and to join our new network. There is a link at the bottom of each Briefing that also allows you to share your recent findings and publications, webinars, and other news for us to highlight and promote. We are very interested in hearing what is happening regarding substance use prevalence and overdoses, especially now during the COVID-19 crisis.

Finally, we are all very excited to share this effort with NIDA and to see the great contributions our NIDA T32 fellows are making as co-leads on our core components. They are our future. Which reminds me to tell you that we have opportunities for predocs and postdocs on our NIDA T32, especially to work on NDEWS.

Thanks for your interest in NDEWS, and Happy Halloween,



Drug checking identifies counterfeit alprazolam tablets

A study recently published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence examined the results of an ongoing drug checking program in British Columbia to determine if counterfeit Xanax tablets actually contained alprazolam. Over one-quarter of the time, the samples that participants expected to be Xanax (n=148) were negative for benzodiazepines; when samples were benzodiazepine-positive, they often contained etizolam. According to the authors, the majority of samples submitted for confirmatory analysis contained "at least one unexpected active ingredient associated with significant harm," including etizolam and other novel psychoactive substances (NPS) such as synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic opioids, and other benzodiazepines. Read the full article here. 

Recent trends and associated factors of amphetamine-type stimulant overdoses in emergency departments

Researchers from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) at the CDC published a report in the new issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence regarding trends in emergency department visits associated with amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS) overdoses. Using data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project's 2010–2017 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, the authors found that ATS overdoses have been increasing since 2010, which is consistent with the increase in methamphetamine treatment admissions and deaths involving psychostimulants with abuse potential over the same period. Read the full report here.

Overdose deaths involving psychostimulants with abuse potential, excluding cocaine: State-level differences and the role of opioids 

Another study recently published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence examined trends in psychostimulants with abuse potential, excluding cocaine. Using mortality data from CDC WONDER to examine state-level changes in psychostimulant-involved overdose deaths, the authors found that changes in geographic patterns of overdose mortality have largely followed geographic changes in methamphetamine availability. The proportion of psychostimulant-involved overdose deaths that also involved opioids varied considerably between states. According to the authors, these findings "suggest a state-level association between impacts of the opioid crisis and the degree of change in psychostimulant-involved overdose mortality rates in recent years, consistent with the notion of 'twin epidemics.'" Read the full article here.


Mexico seizes industrial-scale meth, fentanyl lab in capital

According to The Washington Post, soldiers and police in Mexico have performed a seizure of an industrial methamphetamine lab, one "with no record of any seizure of this size before." The lab was able to process 11,000 pounds of raw material at a time. Felipe de Jesus Gallo of the Mexican Federal Attorney's Office said that the lab also had precursor chemicals that are used to make methamphetamine and fentanyl. Read the full article here

Oregon Health Authority sees 70% increase in Oregon opioid deaths during April, May

As reported by The Observer, Oregon Health Authority reported a spike in state opioid overdose deaths compared to the previous year. Using data from the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System, analysts found that there was a nearly 70% increase in overdose deaths in the state of Oregon from April to May 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. Experts believe that the use of illicit fentanyl and methamphetamine are leading this increase. Read the full article here 

NDEWS is currently recruiting for a NIDA T32 Postdoctoral Fellow, available immediately. Visit this link to apply.

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