This is the second part of a two-part episode in the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Just Science podcast series on, “Just the Intersection of Opioids and Illicit Stimulants,” in which Dr. Jon Zibbell, a Senior Public Health Analyst from RTI International, continues his interview with a discussion of the American history of drug epidemics, what can be learned from past stimulant drug crises, and the importance of tailoring interventions to a need/threat assessment.
Dr. Zibbell describes the methodology used in Ohio to obtain and analyze data on current and imminent drug abuse patterns in the United States. His review of drug abuse crises in the United States identifies the rapid change in the popularity of certain drugs, and the mixed use of drugs during transition periods. The current concern is illicit stimulants used in concert with the opioid fentanyl. Fentanyl creates a sleep state, and to counteract this effect, stimulants are being used. It is fentanyl, however, whose overdose is likely to cause death, although stimulants may also be present in the toxicological analysis. Dr. Zibbell emphasizes that drug-use patterns in a geographical area generally depend on the supply or availability of the drug types in that area. Based on this link he notes the flaw in relating the use of a drug type to the race of people in an area, when the primary factor is the type of drug that is being supplied to that area. He also advises that the lethality of overdose of each drug type must be determined to prevent misleading panic about the use of a drug. Motivation for polydrug use is also discussed.