- Methamphetamine indicators are higher than before the pseudoephedrine ban in 2007–2008. The DEA El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) reported seizures of methamphetamine increased by 37% between 2013 and 2015 and it is ranked as the #1 drug threat in the DEA Dallas are and #2 in Houston. The methamphetamine made in Mexico using the P2P process is increasingly pure and more potent with more reports by Texas outreach workers of use by men who have sex with men and high-risk heterosexuals with increases in HIV and syphilis. The HIV mode of exposure among men who have sex with men is at the same level in 2015 (70% of all cases as it was in 1988 when data on mode of exposure were first collected.
- The novel psychoactive substances/synthetics situation is mixed, marked by sporadic clusters of overdoses, which may be a result of amateur chemists mixing the drugs or bad batches of precursor chemicals. The number of poison calls for synthetic cannabinoids or cathinones peaked in 2014. The chemical ingredients of cannabinoids have changed from JWH varieties to AB-CHMINACA and XLR-11. The number of phenethylamines identified continues to increase. The primary synthetic cathinones in 2015 was ethylone. A growing problem is PCP-like reactions to the synthetic drugs; the analog producing these reactions is not yet identified.
- Heroin users are younger and less likely to be people of color. Indicators of deaths and poison center calls continued to rise, but seizures along the Texas–Mexico border decreased 10%. Nevertheless, the DEA reported Mexican opium production is increasing to sustain the increasingly high levels of demand in the United States. “Other opiate” indicators are trending downward as a result of rescheduling of hydrocodone. Oxycodone is less of a problem than hydrocodone and it has remained stable, as have buprenorphine and methadone numbers. Oxycodone numbers are not as consistent in terms of trending, but its use is much lower than for hydrocodone. Fentanyl abuse and misuse in Texas traditionally involved the transdermal patches, but new rogue fentanyl powder began appearing in spring 2016. New synthetic opioids such as UR-47700 also began appearing.
- The cannabis situation has been influenced by both supply and demand. Supply from Mexico has decreased, with increases instead occurring in the use of home-grown and hydroponic methods and the availability of high-quality cannabis from Colorado. The demand for the drug has been influenced by changes in patterns of use with blunts and now electronic cigarettes and the “vaping” of hash oil and “shatter.”
- PCP remains as a problem. The number of PCP items identified by forensic labs peaked in 2014 at 1052 and dropped to 766 in 2015, which may reflect the characteristics exhibited by many individuals who needed hospital care had taken “K-2” OR “Spice” and they exhibited the classic PCP signs but the forensic tests did not indicate the presence of PCP. Some N-BOMe analogs that have not been identified may be mimicking the PCP behaviors.
- Cocaine indicators continue to trend downward, but this may be changing. Availability is high, but the source has been unstable as a result of cartel wars, with the amounts seized at the Texas–Mexico border down 17% between 2013 and 2015. However, UNODC has reported an increase of almost 40 per cent in the Colombian coca crop acreage between 2014 2015. The Houston DEA Field Division reported that the flow of cocaine appeared to be rising at the end of 2015. Texas street outreach workers are reporting increased popularity of powder cocaine.
- Benzodiazepine indicators have remained fairly stable over the last two years. Alprazolam is the most abused benzodiazepine.
Previous trends (all in PDF): June 2015, June 2014, June 2013, June 2012, June 2011, June 2010, June 2009, June 2008, June 2007, January 2006, June 2006, January 2005, June 2005, June 2004, June 2003, December 2003, June 2002, December 2002, June 2001, December 2001, June 2000, December 2000, June 1999, December 1999, June 1998, December 1998, June 1997, December 1997, June 1996, December 1996, June 1995, December 1995.
Substance Use Reports and Trainings
- Brief report on the current epidemic of drug poisoning deaths, 2014 (PDF)
- MDMA/Molly/Ecstasy–Warning, 2014: “Molly” initially referred to ecstasy pills with high quality MDMA powder. After the MDMA shortage several years ago, the capsules were more likely to contain caffeine, methamphetamine, & methylone with little MDMA. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction issued a warning in February 2014 that “dangerously high” levels of MDMA were appearing in Europe. MDMA tablets in the Europe in 2012 contained 60 – 100 mg of MDMA, but tablets containing 150 and 200 mg of MDMA are were available in February 2014 and the warning stated they could contain even higher amounts, e.g. 240 mg. Deaths due to potent levels of MDMA have been reported in New York City at a music festival last summer and a recent death in Austin involved MDMA.
- Training: “Will they turn you into a zombie?” What clinicians need to know about synthetic drugs (second edition), 2013. Download the Trainer Guide (PDF), Slide presentation (PPTX), and Reference List (PDF).
- Synthetic Drug Training Package, 2013
- Leaning on Syrup: The Misuse of Opioid Cough Syrup in Houston, 1999 (PDF): With the increased recent interest in this form of substance abuse, Leaning on Syrup is one of the earliest publications that describes the phenomenon. The original purple color came from the color of promethazine cough syrup. Variations of “syrup” are avaialble at liquor stores and “relaxation” soft drinks (purple colored, without alcohol but containing ingredients such as melatonin, valerian root, rose hips) are available, without age restrictions, at some drug stores and convenience stores.
- Information on Cheese Heroin in Dallas, 2007 (PDF)
- Abuse of Prescription Drugs, 2006 (PDF)
- Patterns of Club Drug Use in the U.S., 2004 (PDF)
- Implications of Research for Treatment: Methamphetamine, 2005 (PDF)
- Links to Methamphetamine Treatment Materials (PDF)
- Implications of Research for Treatment: Ecstasy (PDF)
- Implications of Research for Treatment: GHB (PDF)
- Implications of Research for Treatment: Ketamine (PDF)
- Implications of Research for Treatment: Rohypnol (PDF)