Fewer Illicit Drug Seizures Seen During Lockdowns

by akoloy

FRIDAY, March 5, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Seizures of illegal drugs fell sharply within the United States throughout early COVID-19 lockdowns, however spiked as soon as stay-at-home orders eased.

Researchers studied seizures of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl in 5 areas between March 2019 (a yr earlier than the pandemic started within the United States) by September 2020, six months into the pandemic.

During that point, regulation enforcement officers made greater than 29,500 drug seizures in Washington/Baltimore, Chicago, Ohio, New Mexico and North Florida.

Seizures — significantly of marijuana and methamphetamine — declined sharply in March and April 2020, when stay-at-home orders went into impact throughout the nation.

But after falling to a low level in April, drug seizures rose by the remainder of the spring and summer time as lockdowns have been relaxed, peaking in August.

After April, the load of medication seized elevated considerably, pushed by a surge in marijuana seizures.

The August 2020 peaks in marijuana and methamphetamine seizures have been increased than the earlier yr, however the researchers mentioned it isn’t clear whether or not that was as a result of the medication have been extra obtainable or whether or not regulation enforcement officers have been “catching up” after a number of months of delayed seizures. The analysis was carried out as a part of the U.S. National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS).

“Although seizure data is not the most robust indicator of the prevalence of drug use, it does serve as an indicator of drug supply and availability,” examine chief Joseph Palamar mentioned in a New York University information launch. He is chairman of the NDEWS scientific advisory group and an affiliate professor of inhabitants well being at NYU School of Medicine.

Palamar famous that fewer seizures or decrease volumes of medication seized can mirror a disruption of provide chains.

The researchers did not discover any main adjustments in seizures of cocaine, heroin or fentanyl through the pandemic’s early months, however seizures of fentanyl slowly elevated over two years, impartial of the pandemic.

“Future research should harmonize data on seizures with other studies of drug use, availability and overdoses in order to determine the most accurate picture of drug use trends during the pandemic,” mentioned examine co-author Linda Cottler, an epidemiologist on the University of Florida.

The findings have been printed March 2 within the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

More data

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse explains drug abuse and addiction.

SOURCE: New York University, information launch, March 2, 2021

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