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Keeping Up With the Changing Landscape of Drugs of Abuse: What Do the Data Say?

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2020
4 pages
This instructional article for grantees under the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance's Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP) presents timely and relevant data critical for understanding the changing dynamic of drug abuse and drug-related problems across the United States, and it reviews systems and issues related to the timely collection and dissemination of drug-related data.
Although opioid-related deaths declined in 2018 for the first time since 1999, the epidemic continues to be a significant public health threat. The number of deaths from stimulants is substantially lower than deaths from opioids; however, deaths from stimulants are rapidly increasing. Cocaine-related deaths tripled and psychostimulant-related deaths per 100,000 increased nearly fivefold from 2012 through 2018. Given the significance of such data, this article focuses on examples of local, state, and national efforts to track a continuously changing supply of illicit substances. Highlighted efforts are those that collect near-real-time data, identify types of abused substances, and rapidly disseminate critical data to those responsible for resource allocation. Examples of such drug data collection systems are described for a locality (Columbus, Ohio); a state (Tennessee), and a national drug data collection system (one for the nation's forensic crime laboratories). These systems address common problems with data access, including timely data collections, comprehensive drug identification, and rapid dissemination of data and data analysis. 5 references

Date Published: September 1, 2020