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Press Release

Contact: Rafael Lemaitre/Bob Weiner 202-395-6618
Wednesday, March 21, 2001


Pulse Check: Trends in Drug Abuse Mid-Year 2000 report.
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(Washington, DC)—In testimony today before the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, Dr. Donald Vereen, Jr. M.D., M.P.H., Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), released "Pulse Check: Trends in Drug Abuse Mid-Year 2000" report. The new report, issued biannually, chronicles the latest "street" trends in drug use between 1999 and 2000. The current report has a special focus documenting the spread of ecstasy. Among the findings:

  • Crack and powder cocaine remains the most serious drug problem in the majority of sites.
  • Marijuana remains the most widely available illicit drug, and reports that potency is on the rise. Treatment sources report an increase in admissions with marijuana as the primary drug of abuse—and adolescents outnumber other age groups entering treatment for marijuana.
  • Eighty percent of Pulse Check sources reported increased availability of club drugs, with ecstasy and ketamine the most widely cited club drugs. Sources in seven sites report powder cocaine is being used as a club drug by young adults.
  • Ecstasy (MDMA) abuse and trafficking is expanding, no longer confined to the "rave" scene: the sale and use of club drugs has grown from nightclubs and raves to high schools, the streets, neighborhoods, open venues, and younger ages.
  • Ecstasy users often are unknowingly purchasing adulterated tablets or some other substance sold as MDMA.
  • Along with reports of increased heroin snorting as a route of administration for initiates in previous Pulse Check issues, there is also an increase in injecting initiates and the negative health consequences associated with injection (e.g., increases in HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C) suggesting that there is a generational forgetting of the dangers of injection of the drug.

Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Edward H. Jurith stated, "The 'Pulse Check' gives policy makers a handle on the latest trends. We never again want another 'crack epidemic' to blindside this nation. By monitoring what is happening on the streets, we can often see a problem before it becomes an epidemic. We are hoping that the information about Ecstasy's expanding use will provide the information to make informed policy decisions."

The Pulse Check report is based on discussions with epidemiologists, ethnographers, law enforcement officials, and methadone and non-methadone treatment providers. A full copy of the report may be found at

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