Home > Identifying new drugs and new drug trends with the help of drug helplines.

Long, Jean (2007) Identifying new drugs and new drug trends with the help of drug helplines. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 22, Summer 2007 , p. 24.

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In February 2007 the European Foundation of Drug Helplines (FESAT) published the results from its twelfth monitoring project.1 Since the beginning of 2001 FESAT has been collecting information every six months on the types of person contacting helplines, the content of these calls and how this has changed compared to the previous six months. According to the author, the main objective of this monitoring is to identify the emergence of new drugs and new drug trends; the data cannot quantify the size of any such changes. Of the 35 relevant FESAT helplines, 18 helplines in 14 European countries, including Ireland, participated in the project. This article will describe some of the main changes that were reported by the helplines in Europe during the first half of 2006 when compared to the second half of 2005. The article presents some unpublished information from the Drugs/HIV Helpline in Ireland. 

The smallest of the 18 participating helplines in Europe answered an average of one call per day, and the largest, 130. Seven helplines answered 10 calls or fewer per day; eight helplines answered 11 to 30 calls; one helpline answered 31 to 60 calls and two helplines answered 61 or more calls. The Drugs/HIV Helpline in Ireland answered an average of 16 calls per day, though this figure included calls about sexual health. There were 2,125 calls between January and July 2006 which represents a 6% decrease when compared to the preceding six-month period (Aileen Dooley, personal communication, 2007). 

The FESAT report notes a continuation of the upward trend in the numbers of calls about cocaine (8 helplines) and about alcohol (6 helplines) across Europe. There were increases also in the numbers of calls about cannabis and ecstasy. There were decreases in the numbers of calls about injecting heroin and magic mushrooms.

In Ireland, there was some decrease in the number of calls to the Drugs/HIV Helpline about cocaine, from 257 in the second half of 2005 to 226 in the first half of 2006. The number of calls about alcohol remained unchanged at an average of 235 calls for each reporting period. There was some decrease in the number of calls about cannabis, and a large decrease in the number of calls about magic mushrooms in the first half of 2006 when compared to the second half of 2005. There was some increase in calls about ecstasy in the first half of 2006. (Aileen Dooley, personal communication, 2007)

During the first half of 2006, three helplines in Europe received calls about drugs that had not been reported to them before. A helpline in Greece reported a call about a substance called ‘Mothball’ but did not describe its appearance or its effect. The helpline in the Netherlands reported calls about two new drugs, Original 69 and Ethyltryptamine. Original 69 is a blue liquid (containing MDMA and amphetamine) presented in 25 ml bottles and usually sold to people attending parties; this liquid has a similar effect to ecstasy. Ethyltryptamine is a pill which has hallucinogenic effects. The Norwegian helpline reported calls about methamphetamine and Ayahuasca. Methamphetamine has been reported by helplines in other countries. Ayahuasca is a tea made from plants; its use may result in neurotic or psychotic episodes. The Drugs/HIV Helpline in Ireland did not report calls about any new drugs. 

1. Hibell B (2007) FESAT Monitoring Project -  Changes during the first half of 2006. Brussels: FESAT (The European Foundation of Drug Helplines). 

More information about FESAT can be found on the website of the European Foundation of Drug Helplines at www.fesat.org 

The Drugs/HIV Helpline in Ireland is a confidential, freephone, active listening service offering non-directive support, information, guidance and referral to anyone with a question related to substance use or HIV and sexual health. Set up in July 1997, the service is funded and managed by the Health Service Executive. The freephone number is 1800 459 459. The Helpline manager is Aileen Dooley.

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 22, Summer 2007
Date:April 2007
Page Range:p. 24
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 22, Summer 2007
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Available)
Subjects:J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Identification and screening > Identification and screening for substance use
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Prevention approach > Prevention through information and education
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Prevention programme or service
VA Geographic area > Europe
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Prevention by sponsor or setting > Community-based prevention

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