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Fewer Illicit Drug Seizures Seen Throughout Lockdowns

FRIDAY, March 5, 2021 (HealthDay Information) — Seizures of unlawful medication fell sharply in america 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 places between March 2019 (a yr earlier than the pandemic started in america) by way of September 2020, six months into the pandemic.

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

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

However after falling to a low level in April, drug seizures rose by way of the remainder of the spring and summer time as lockdowns had 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 had been greater than the earlier yr, however the researchers mentioned it isn’t clear whether or not that was as a result of the medication had been extra accessible or whether or not regulation enforcement officers had been “catching up” after a number of months of delayed seizures. The analysis was carried out as a part of the U.S. Nationwide Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS).

“Though seizure knowledge is just not essentially the most sturdy indicator of the prevalence of drug use, it does function an indicator of drug provide and availability,” research chief Joseph Palamar mentioned in a New York College information launch. He’s chairman of the NDEWS scientific advisory group and an affiliate professor of inhabitants well being at NYU College of Drugs.

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

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

“Future analysis ought to harmonize knowledge on seizures with different research of drug use, availability and overdoses to be able to decide essentially the most correct image of drug use tendencies in the course of the pandemic,” mentioned research co-author Linda Cottler, an epidemiologist on the College of Florida.

The findings had been revealed March 2 within the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Extra data

The U.S. Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse explains drug abuse and dependancy.

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

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