Fentanyl can sicken first responders: Possible solution?

Dan Kallen, a detective in southern New Jersey, was searching a home with fellow officers in August 2015, when they found a bag of white powder. Kallen removed a scoop of powder for testing. When he was done, he closed the bag, and a bit of air escaped, carrying a puff of powder with it. It was enough to send Kallen and a fellow officer to the emergency room.

The drugs in the bag had been spiked with fentanyl, a synthetic drug that, like heroin, is an opioid. But it is 50 times more potent than heroin — even a tiny amount inhaled or absorbed through the skin can be extremely dangerous or deadly. Kallen described his experience in a Drug Enforcement Agency video that warns first responders of the dangers of handling unknown powders.

Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are working to address this hazard. In a paper published in Forensic Chemistry, they report that two technologies, Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) and Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry (DART-MS), can detect trace amounts of fentanyl even when mixed with heroin and other substances.

Full story of Fentanyl danger to first responders at Science Daily

New Dangerous Opioid Mix Called “Gray Death” Blamed for Deaths in Three States

A new combination of opioids, known as “Gray Death,” is being blamed for deaths in Alabama, Georgia and Ohio, the Associated Press reports. The combination includes heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and a synthetic opioid called U-47700.

“Gray death is one of the scariest combinations that I have ever seen in nearly 20 years of forensic chemistry drug analysis,” said Deneen Kilcrease, manager of the chemistry section at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Kilcrease said people using the drug are not aware of its ingredients or their concentrations. Simply touching the powder can put a person at risk, she added.

Full story of the new opioid mixed drug at drugfree.org

Drivers Killed in Crashes More Likely to Have Used Drugs Than Alcohol

For the first time, U.S. drivers killed in crashes in 2015 were more likely to have used drugs than alcohol, according to a new study.

The study found 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes in 2015 had used a legal or illegal drug, compared with 37 percent who showed alcohol levels above a legal limit, Reuters reports.

Full story of drivers killed in crashes and drug use at drugfree.org

Attorneys General Tell Trump Health Law Replacement Must Fund Drug Treatment

The attorneys general of 19 states have told President Trump and Republican leaders of Congress that any replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) must adequately fund drug treatment, the Associated Press reports.

In a letter, the attorneys general said the initial ACA replacement plan, which was pulled from consideration in the House last month, eventually could have cut more than $13 billion annually in treatment funding through a combination of direct cuts and caps on Medicaid.

Full story of Trump Health Law and drug treatment at drugfree.org

First-Time Marijuana Use Among College Students is at Highest Level in Three Decades

First-time marijuana use among college students is at the highest level in three decades, a new study finds.

Among 19- to 22-year-olds who had never used marijuana by 12th grade, those who go to college are 51 percent more likely to try the drug than those who do not attend college, HealthDay reports.

Full story of first-time marijuana users highest among college students at drugfree.org