Fewer Illicit Drug Seizures Seen During Lockdowns

FRIDAY, March 5, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Illicit drug seizures fell sharply in the United States during the first COVID-19 lockdowns, but increased once home orders eased.

Researchers studied seizures of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl in five locations between March 2019 (one year before the start of the pandemic in the United States) and September 2020, six months after the start. of the pandemic.

During that time, law enforcement officials made more than 29,500 drug seizures in Washington / Baltimore, Chicago, Ohio, New Mexico and northern Florida.

Seizures – especially of marijuana and methamphetamine – fell sharply in March and April 2020, when home orders took effect across the country.

But after dropping to a low in April, drug seizures increased through the rest of the spring and summer as lockdowns eased, peaking in August.

After April, the weight of seized drugs increased significantly, due to the surge in marijuana seizures.

The August 2020 peaks in marijuana and methamphetamine seizures were higher than the year before, but researchers said it was not clear whether it was because drugs were no longer available or if the forces of the order “caught up” after several months of delayed seizures. The research was conducted as part of the United States Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS).

“Although data on seizures is not the most reliable indicator of the prevalence of drug use, it serves as an indicator of the supply and availability of drugs,” said the head of the Joseph Palamar study in a New York University press release. He is chair of the NDEWS Scientific Advisory Group and Associate Professor of Population Health at the NYU School of Medicine.

Palamar noted that fewer seizures or fewer volumes of drugs seized may reflect a disruption in supply chains.

Researchers found no major changes in cocaine, heroin, or fentanyl seizures during the first few months of the pandemic, but fentanyl seizures have slowly increased in two years, regardless of the pandemic.

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

The results were published on March 2 in the journal Drug and alcohol addiction.

More information

The National Institute on Drug Abuse of the United States explains drug addiction and addiction.

SOURCE: New York University, press release, March 2, 2021

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