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Drug Alcohol Depend ; 221: 108580, 2021 04 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1116565


BACKGROUND: Little is known regarding how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected patterns of drug use in the United States. Because drug seizures can serve as a proxy for drug availability, we examined shifts in drug seizures in the US during the pandemic. METHODS: We examined trends in seizures of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl within five High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas-Washington/Baltimore, Chicago, Ohio, New Mexico, and North Florida. Trends were examined for number and total weight of seizures from March 2019 through September 2020 using Joinpoint regression. RESULTS: Significant decreases in seizures involving marijuana (ß = -0.03, P = 0.005) and methamphetamine (ß = -0.02, P = 0.026) were detected through April 2020, and then seizures of marijuana (ß = 0.10, P = 0.028) and methamphetamine (ß = 0.11, P = 0.010) significantly increased through September 2020. The number of seizures involving marijuana and methamphetamine peaked in August 2020, exceeding the highest pre-COVID-19 number of seizures. Fentanyl seizures increased overall (ß = 0.05, P < .001), but did not significantly drop during the start of COVID-19, and significant changes were not detected for cocaine or heroin. We also detected a significant increase in weight of marijuana seized from April through September 2020 (ß = 0.40, P = .001). The weight of marijuana seized in August 2020 exceeded the highest pre-COVID-19 weight. CONCLUSION: The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with an immediate decrease in marijuana and methamphetamine seizures, and then increases throughout 2020 with some months exceeding the number (and weights) of seizures from the previous year. More research is warranted to determine the extent to which these seizures reflect changes in drug use.

Drug Trafficking/trends , Illicit Drugs/supply & distribution , Law Enforcement , Baltimore , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cannabis , Chicago , Cocaine/supply & distribution , District of Columbia , Fentanyl/supply & distribution , Florida , Heroin/supply & distribution , Humans , Methamphetamine/supply & distribution , New Mexico , Ohio
Int J Drug Policy ; 83: 102880, 2020 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-676805


COVID-19 has turned the world upside down in a very short period of time. The impact of COVID-19 will disproportionately effect people who are least able to protect themselves and this will include people who use drugs. The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic comes at time when North America is in the midst of a protracted overdose epidemic caused by a toxic illegal drug supply. Overdose deaths are likely to rise when people are isolated, social support programs are cut back, and the illicit drug supply is further compromised. Safer opioid distribution in response to a toxic street drug supply is a pragmatic and effective way to reduce overdose deaths. COVID-19 makes such an approach even more urgent and compelling.

COVID-19 , Drug Overdose/prevention & control , Opioid-Related Disorders , SARS-CoV-2 , Analgesics, Opioid/supply & distribution , Fentanyl/supply & distribution , Global Health , Humans , Substance Abuse Treatment Centers , United States