New Drug Trend Detection System

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The University of Maryland’s Center for Substance Abuse research will be given a $3 million donation from The National Institute On Drug Abuse to develop a new National Drug Early Warning System in an effort to monitor trends in substance abuse and identify certain areas in the country that may be or become vulnerable to an outbreak of addictive patterns. The new system will allow medical experts to respond quickly when a growing trend emerges and deal with the issue in a timely and efficient manner. The system not only monitors national and regional patterns but will also include surveillance of social media and internet platforms to identify trends in harmful drug use.

With the growing drug epidemic that is not isolated in the US, it seems that this new detection and prevention system could have a profound impact in addressing addiction and abuse of illegal substances. Given that more often than not drug abuse is a community problem this new idea may be able to target specific areas to monitor and deal with. The new system will be able to identify problems in real-time and will offer experts the information they need to pin-point problem areas, and specifically problem communities with severe abuse patterns and trends.

The inclusion of social media and internet scrutiny that this new program offers will only aid the researchers and eventual users of this system. The world is now almost completely connected and so are substance abusers. Therefore it stands to reason that if you can identify a pattern anywhere it will be online and through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. The findings of information collected from these sites will only assist those seeking the findings they need to deal with a problem area as quickly as possible. Of course there are challenges when trying to identify drug patterns, especially among those select drug users that are constantly finding new ways to get high. Designer synthetic drugs have, in the past, been difficult to track due to their constantly changing ingredients and chemistry, but through social networking it may be possible for authorities and experts to keep up with this ever changing cycle that is often identified as a troubling problem among teenagers and young adults. Possibly the most confounding new trend is why so many teens are going from 0 to 60 so to speak by quickly becoming addicted to very hard and damaging drugs like heroin.

This new idea for a better and more accurate system to identify drug patterns will establish a new network of addiction experts across the country and will hopefully allow these professionals to share information and make wise, calculated decisions in regards to emerging trends amongst problem areas. The addiction experts will meet regularly to discuss certain issues such as:

  • Detect emerging drug trends using national data sources (existing surveys, various drug-related listservs and networks, and social media and web scans).
  • Monitor drug trends at multiple regional sites around the country using many of the national and local data sources that were utilized by CEWG but also including innovative sources, such as poison center calls.
  • Dispatch a rapid response team at “Hot Spots” – local areas with reported rapid increases in emerging drugs. This team will assess the outbreak and collect anonymous samples – provided by criminal justice drug testing programs – for enhanced analysis that includes testing for synthetic drug metabolites.
  • Quickly disseminate information to the public using traditional and social media, websites, publications and newsletters.



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Sobriety Foundation

New Drug Trend Detection System

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