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Seizures of illicit substances for personal use in two Italian provinces: analysis of trends by type and purity from 2008 to 2017.

Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2019 Sep 18;14(1):41

Authors: Verri P, Rustichelli C, Ferrari A, Marchesi F, Baraldi C, Licata M, Vandelli D, Palazzoli F, Potì F, Silingardi E

BACKGROUND: The use of illicit substances represents one of the most difficult problems to confront in the health system. Drug use is a global problem but is not uniform throughout the world, within the same country and changes over time. Therefore, knowing the illicit substances that are used in a territory is essential to better organize health services in that specific geographical area. To this aim, we analysed 4200 samples confiscated from individuals who held them for personal use by police forces in the Italian provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia from 2008 to 2017.
METHODS: The suspected samples were screened by gas-chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS); all samples were subsequently analysed by gas chromatography-flame ionization detector (GC-FID) for quantitative analyses.
RESULTS: Cannabis was the most seized illicit substance (70.7%). Over the study period, the number of seizures of herb with a high content of Δ9-THC increased. The number of cocaine seizures remained stable (total 16.1%), but the median purity of seized cocaine increased to 75% in 2017. Heroin seizures decreased over time, but the median purity of seized heroin reached 16.8% in 2017. In almost all the years, heroin samples with a purity exceeding the 97.5 percentile were found. Especially from 2014, the range of seized substances increased and started to include synthetic cathinones, phenylethylamines, UR-144, LSD, psilocybe, prescription opioid and hypnotics. In two cases, tramadol together with tropicamide was seized. Most of the seizures involved male subjects and 82% of the seizures were from individuals younger than 35 years of age.
CONCLUSIONS: The persistence of old illicit drugs and the rapid emergence of new psychoactive substances represented a serious challenge for public health in the studied Italian area. Some useful interventions might be: informing mainly young people about the possible complications of cannabis use; implementing standardized procedures to diagnose and treat cocaine-related emergencies in hospitals; increasing the distribution of naloxone to antagonize possible heroin overdoses; equipping laboratories to be able to identify the new psychoactive substances.

PMID: 31533834 [PubMed – in process]

Source: ncbi 2

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