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

Long, Jean (2008) Identifying new drugs and new drug trends with the help of drug helplines. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 27, Autumn 2008 , p. 22.

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In May 2008 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 early the emergence of new drugs and new drug trends; the data collected cannot quantify the size of any change. Of the 31 relevant FESAT helplines, 20 helplines in 13 European countries, including Ireland, participated in the project. This article will describe some of the main changes that were reported by the helplines during the first half of 2007.

 The smallest of the 20 participating helplines answered an average of one call per day, and the largest, 121 calls. Four helplines answered five or fewer calls per day, 13 helplines answered between five and 20 calls per day, and three helplines answered 21 or more calls per day. The Drugs/HIV Helpline in Ireland answered an average of 15 calls per day, though this figure included calls about sexual health. There were 1,905 calls between January and June 2007.2 Some European helplines provide services by email as well as by phone, which makes their advice more accessible; the Irish helpline does not have this facility.
 
The FESAT report notes a continuation of the upward trend in the number of calls about cannabis (6 helplines) and about cocaine (6 helplines). The number of calls about alcohol also increased. The numbers of calls about injecting heroin and about ecstasy decreased.
 
The Irish Drugs/HIV Helpline reported a large increase in the number of calls about intravenous heroin use in the first half of 2007 compared with the second half of 2006. There was also a large increase in the number of calls referring to benzodiazepines. There was some increase in the number of calls referring to cannabis and certain opiates (methadone, Subutex, codeine and DF118). There was no significant change in the number of calls referring to cocaine. Calls from male drug users aged between 20 and 25 years, and from parents or guardians, increased considerably during the first half of 2007. The number of calls referring to alcohol decreased.
 
Three helplines received calls about drugs that had not been reported to them before. A helpline in Norway reported a call about a substance called Polarmine, which is an antihistamine with sedative effects. The helpline in Belgium reported calls about LSA, or morning glory, which has hallucinogenic effects. The German helpline reported calls about fentanyl, which is a synthetic opiate. The Drugs/HIV Helpline in Ireland did not report any calls about new drugs during this period. (Jean Long)
 
1. Hibell B (2008) FESAT Monitoring Project - Changes during the first half of 2007. Brussels: FESAT (The European Foundation of Drug Helplines).
2. Aileen Dooley provided the author with data from the Drugs/HIV Helpline in Ireland.
 
More information about FESATcan be found at http://www.fesat.org/en/
 
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 or concern related to substance use or HIV and sexual health. In its 11 years, the helpline has dealt with over 48,000 calls, and it offered information on over 300 relevant services nationwide. The freephone number is 1800 459 459. The Helpline manager is Aileen Dooley (a FESAT board member).


 

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 27, Autumn 2008
Date:2008
Page Range:p. 22
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 27, Autumn 2008
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Available)
Subjects:B Substances > Sedatives or tranquillisers (CNS depressants) > Benzodiazepine
B Substances > Opioids (opiates) > Opioid product > Codeine
B Substances > Opioids (opiates) > Opioid product > Fentanyl
E Concepts in biomedical areas > Substance by legal status > Over the counter drug (medicine / medication)
E Concepts in biomedical areas > Substance by legal status > Prescription drug (medicine / medication)
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Prevention programme or service
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Prevention approach > Prevention through information and education
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Identification and screening > Identification and screening for substance use
L Social psychology and related concepts > Interpersonal interaction and group dynamics > Social support
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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