Global street drug supply and its effects on high-risk groups
NEWS RELEASE: 15-JUN-2021
The article by Thom Browne, Mark S. Gold and David M. Martin is published in the journal, Current
The composition of the street drugs heroin and cocaine has dramatically changed at alarming
speeds across the globe. No longer are these street drugs cut with benign materials such as
lactose but now cut with up to 17 or more pharmaceutically active and potentially toxic
A drug user may buy cocaine today but may end up with a drug cocktail more dangerous then
what was bought and assumed was cocaine. This has a profound effect on public health and
safety as well as on the individual street drug users during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Selected by the Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Kenneth Blum as the Editor's Choice in the May 2021 issue
of Current Psychopharmacology (CPSP), this work examined the alarming addition of multiple
pharmaceutically active substances collectively referred to as "toxic adulterants" and their
pathophysiological effects, especially on street drug using patients, in light of the COVID-19
Additional pharmaceutically active and potentially toxic compounds have been found in routine
street drug seizures at startling amounts. These toxic adulterants include, but are not limited to,
ethical pharmaceuticals such as cardiac medications, veterinary pharmaceuticals such as
levamisole, industrial chemicals, fungicides, new psychoactive substances all of which have
profound effects on the substance user health and COVID-19 risk.
"Never before in the history of addiction medicine have there been so many combinations of
drugs and pharmacologically active compounds in a single dose of cocaine or heroin" Stated Dr.
David M. Martin, Science Team Director of the project, he continued "Although the reason for
this is unclear, it may be to create new product lines for an increasingly overcrowded street
drug market and this trend seems to be continuing."
The report concluded that this dangerous new trend in world street drug supply is
unprecedented and maybe the undetected cause of many psychostimulant and opioid
overdose deaths. This is because many toxic adulterants are not routinely tested in post-
mortem or street drug seizure cases. Public health and treatment officials need to know of this
new dangerous trend evaluating and treating patients.