Recent studies suggest that fentanyl is a major driver of the drug crisis in the United States, as it is available in various forms with different chemical structures. This has created several problems for law enforcement authorities as they are unable to curb the menace. In order to deal with the current situation, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in collaboration with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the German Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt) have launched a website to help forensic chemists share data on new drug variants, also known as drug analogs.
The initiative — Novel Psychoactive Substance (NPS) Data Hub — would allow forensic scientists to share information and useful data on analogs of new illicit drugs, including their signatures and chemical structures. Such a groundbreaking facility could help experts identify new types of fentanyl and other narcotics more quickly.
“Being able to identify drugs quickly is critical. If people start overdosing and dying from a new drug analog, authorities need to identify it as quickly as possible,” said Aaron Urbas, the NIST research chemist who led the project. “If you want to focus your resources effectively, you need to know what you’re looking for,” he added.
The main objective of the NPS Data Hub is to make drug identification data available to forensic chemists in a timely manner. Besides information on synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, it is also intended to cover synthetic cathinones, synthetic cannabinoids, amphetamines and other deadly substances. The website hopes to reduce that time lag by making it convenient for forensic experts to coordinate with each other. For instance, a chemist can analyze a new substance in one laboratory and upload a suggested chemical structure and supporting data to the Data Hub. While a second researcher located in a different laboratory can access and review the data in real time and validate the findings or make recommendations.
Drug addiction is treatable
Official data indicates that drug overdoses involving prescription opioids are claiming more victims than any other substances in America. Opioid painkillers are among the widely abused drugs, which are succeeded by harder substances such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 1999 to 2016, more than 350,000 Americans lost their lives due to fatal overdoses involving opioids. Moreover, experts fear that opioid abuse could push chronic users toward heroin use. The similarity in chemical structures of the two drugs make heroin a cheaper and perfect substitute for opioids, swiftly turning the opioid crisis into a heroin epidemic.
Experts feel that doctors writing millions of prescriptions for opioid painkillers have fueled the epidemic. Prescription opioids are dangerous and have the potential to negatively affect the physical and emotional health of users, including their overall quality of life. The need of the hour is to expand access to life-saving treatment, which consists of alternative therapies like non-opioid treatments to fight compulsive drug-seeking urges. The ever-present woes of addiction have left public health authorities and law enforcement officers in a confused state. Drug users need to know that they are not born with the intention to abuse drugs as they grow up, but once trapped in the grip of addiction, their ability to exercise self-restraint can be greatly damaged due to prolonged substance use.
Fortunately, addiction to opioids or any other harmful drug is treatable with timely medical intervention. When wondering where to start with to find help for addiction to drugs, one needn’t look further than Sovereign Health to avail the latest treatment options at its reputed drug addiction treatment centers. You may call our 24/7 helpline or chat online for more information about our evidence-based drug addiction treatment programs.