Emerging drugs -- hype, legitimate concern or both?

January 13, 2014

It is not uncommon these days to hear reports of celebrities using a new type of drug, or sensationalized reports of how new, potent substances lead to extraordinary events. Media stories like these have long led to dramatic knee-jerk reactions to the emergence of new drugs. A new book David Khey of Loyola University New Orleans, Emerging Trends in Drug Use and Distribution, published by Springer and part of its series SpringerBriefs in Criminology explores this phenomenon, and prescribes new ways society should process and deal with these trends.

Consider the widely leaked clip of Miley Cyrus using Salvia divinorum, or the uproar over the inclusion of "molly" in her song lyrics. Another such example includes the 2012 cannibal attack by Rudy Eugene in Florida. The attack was initially blamed on bath salts, and though it was subsequently confirmed that Eugene did not have these substances in his system, the public at large still considers cannibalism as a side effect of synthetic cathinones. While these reports are based on inaccurate information and isolated incidents, concern over new drugs is warranted as they present a clear threat to public health. However, Emerging Trends in Drug Use and Distribution claims that society should react with a reasoned and analytical approach, rather than react with panic and sensationalism.

At the heart of the book's claim lies the idea that an informed society should rely on facts about a substance's full impact, including pharmacology, effects, use patterns, distribution and risk potential. Furthermore, policy makers should initially refrain from outright bans on new drugs until the full consequences of these policies are understood. The negative effects of over regulation could include unnecessary ramifications on law enforcement, the rise of less safe, more dangerous alternatives and/or users resorting to more dangerous street drugs. In short, a reasoned, pragmatic and comprehensive reaction is far more effective at combating the use of new drugs.

"We hope that decision makers will begin to see the emergence of new psychoactive drugs not as unique overwhelming crises, but as patterned events that may be managed," writes Khey. "For students, researchers and parents, we wish to provide a balanced source of information on this topic. But most importantly, we wish to dispel misconceptions and shine light on actualized problems to give us a clear understanding of the issues pertaining to emerging drugs."
-end-
David Khey
Emerging Trends in Drug Use and Distribution
2014, VIII, 99 p. 4 illus.
Softcover €53,49 | £44.99 | $54.99
ISBN 978-3-319-03574-1

Springer Science+Business Media

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