NDEWS Monitors Meeting

The NDEWS Monitors Team meets regularly to discuss the latest information on drug use/misuse occurring locally, nationally, and internationally. Discussions encompass new research findings, monitoring of online discussions including Reddit threads, activity on the Dark Web, CraigsList sales channels, individual contacts by team members, experiences of first responders—fire, emergency services (EMS), and police lab testing results, review of keyword-sorted news feeds, transactions with Bitcoin, and more. 
 
These brief updates are a way to share snapshots of the range of topics discussed by the Team with those beyond the NDEWS Coordinating Center who may be interested in this information.
 
May 5, 2017
 
Codeine and tramadol restricted by FDA—The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is restricting the use of codeine and Tramadol medicines in children. Codeine is approved to treat pain and cough. Tramadol is approved to treat pain. These medicines carry serious risks, including slowed or labored breathing and death, which seem to be a greater risk in children younger than 12 years. Therefore, FDA is restricting their use in children younger than 12 and in limiting it in some older children.
 
Suicide risk among women with substance use disorders—Current substance use disorder (SUD) signals increased suicide risk, especially among women, and may be an important marker to consider, including in suicide risk assessment strategies. Nonetheless, other co-occurring psychiatric disorders may partially explain associations between SUD and suicide, as well as may explain the observed excess suicide risk associated with SUD among women.
 
Las Vegas provides needle vending machines—Public health organizations in Las Vegas, Nevada, are trying to reduce the spread of blood-borne infections among drug users. One way to do that is to provide them with clean needles. The Nevada approach is different: It is not a needle exchange but needle vending. The program is a joint effort of the Southern Nevada Health District, the Nevada AIDS Research and Education Society, and Trac-B Exchange, which developed the machine. 
 
Higher education? College attendance is a risk for marijuana initiation—College has grown into a substantial risk factor for marijuana initiation since 2013. In the past, college students have played a central role in marijuana use increases, and they are in a position to usher in new increases for the U.S. population in the coming years if efforts to address marijuana use are not soon made on college campuses. See American Journal of Public Health: The Influence of College Attendance on Risk for Marijuana Initiation in the United States: 1977 to 2015
 
April 19, 2017
 
Fake oxy pills laced with fentanyl in Arizona—Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Alert: Maricopa County, Arizona, had 32 deaths in 18 months (October 2015–March 2017) that were tied to these pills. Medical examiners also found that in 75% of the overdoses, dipyrone (metamizole) was present. This painkiller was banned for use in the United States in 1977.
K2 outbreak in Austin—In the two-week period, March 26–April 9, 2017, Austin, Texas, had a spike in adverse reactions to substance use that resulted in numerous EMS calls and multiple hospitalizations. In local news coverage, authorities called this a “K2 outbreak.” These media reports indicated the geography and target consumer were limited to a homeless population in a specific downtown area. Radio station KUT 90.5 reported that medics responded to 395 calls in March alone. Related drug seizures and busts of low-level distributors have occurred in the Austin metro area.

Narcan[TM] parties, an urban legend?—There has been a discussion about the idea and existence of “narcan parties” on the NDEWS Network listserv. These events supposedly occur when a person acquires Narcan/naloxone before taking a significant amount of an opioid so that he or she supposedly can be revived if an overdose occurs. Members participating in the discussion clearly stated that even though some officials in the judiciary have used the term “narcan parties,” it is a mischaracterization of the actual use of naloxone. One Network member’s comment was as follows:
 
"These rumors are not only NOT TRUE but really dangerous. There has NEVER been one documented case of this happening and this type of misinformation will cost lives if continued and spread. People are not trying to die. They are trying to get euphoria. So, please help stop this dangerous misinformation."