The good news: Narcotics analysis via handheld instruments for presumptive testing in the field are now in use in all 50 states and in more than 50 countries worldwide. These devices that utilize Raman spectroscopy for presumptive narcotics identification can help officers make safe, definitive decisions during the course of duty and help stop potentially lethal illicit drugs from getting into the public’s hands. (Read more>)
The bad news: The drug overdose epidemic continues to worsen in the United States. The CDC noted that “Drug overdose deaths continue to impact our nation and remain a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. The majority of overdose deaths involve opioids. Deaths involving synthetic opioids (largely illicitly made fentanyl) and stimulants (such as cocaine and methamphetamine) have increased in recent years. In addition, overdose deaths have accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the worsening and expanding drug overdose epidemic in the United States involves potent synthetic opioids, often in combination with other drugs, timely and comprehensive surveillance and evidence-based prevention and response strategies remain essential.”
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is trying to get the word out this month about the problems of drugs with its annual Red Ribbon Campaign, a uniform way for communities nationwide to take a stand against drugs and drug use. During October, the DEA will be hosting and participating in Red Ribbon events throughout the country. The DEA provides a variety of Red Ribbon toolkits which include suggestions, videos, talking points, and other resources.
We recently wrote that with the increase of fentanyl-laced pills entering the market comes an increase in overdoses and deaths as many who take the drugs are not aware that the heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine they think they are using may actually be fentanyl, or has been adulterated or contaminated with fentanyl. As the NIH reported, “Because fentanyl is about 50 times more potent than heroin and a lethal dose may be as small as two milligrams, using a drug that has been laced with fentanyl can greatly increase overdose risk.”
Identifying the real content of those laced drugs is getting more and more difficult as the pills are taking shape in colorful tablets that look like children’s vitamins or candy. The Drug Enforcement Administration recently advised the public of an alarming emerging trend of colorful fentanyl available across the United States. Late this past summer, “the DEA and its law enforcement partners seized brightly-colored fentanyl and fentanyl pills in 18 states. Dubbed ‘rainbow fentanyl’ in the media, this trend appears to be a new method used by drug cartels to sell highly addictive and potentially deadly fentanyl made to look like candy to children and young people.”
We saw an example just this past month in New York when approximately 15,000 candy-colored fentanyl pills were seized in Manhattan. The DEA noted: “The fentanyl pills, in various colors, were destined for distribution throughout New York City and had been concealed in a LEGO box to deter law enforcement attention. The fentanyl pills were also imprinted with “M” and “30” to resemble “30 M”, Oxycodone Hydrochloride 30 mg pills.” In fact, during a recent 15-week enforcement operation, DEA New York seized half a million lethal pills. That’s in one state alone.
Police departments and first-responders utilize the mentioned handheld narcotics analysis technology to identify unknown substances in the field as a presumptive test and help protect their officers from being harmed. These tools can identify key drugs such as fentanyl, numerous fentanyl analogs including carfentanil, as well as the precursors, NPP and ANPP. Once a substance is analyzed, full results are automatically stored for reporting. It’s one step to helping get these deadly drugs off the streets.
The DEA encourages everyone to help spread the word about #RedRibbon and its message of “Living Drug Free.” Here’s info about their virtual Red Ribbon Rally October 13, 2022. #DEA #RedRibbon