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Latest Pulse Check Provides New Vignettes About Drug Use


May 1995

The most recent quarterly Pulse Check from the Office of National Drug Control Policy provides several interesting anecdotes about drug use trends (Executive Office of the President, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Pulse Check: National Trends in Drug Abuse, Spring 1995).

Heroin. In New York, retail heroin purity is frequently strong enough to snort. In areas where much heroin is sold, small glassine envelopes in which the heroin is packaged litter the streets because users buy the drug, immediately snort it and throw away the package.

The "black tar" form of heroin is not snortable or smokable and has usually been injected. However, in Texas black tar is being dissolved into a solution and used like nose drops.

Heroin sellers remain distinct from cocaine and marijuana sellers except where heroin and cocaine are being sold together for "speedball" injections (Connecticut and Colorado).

Heroin is being sold typically in $10 or $20 bags or balloons. Los Angeles reports prices at $20 to $40 per balloon, but New York and Delaware report $3 to $5 bags.

Cocaine. Maryland police report that crack dealers are switching to the sale of heroin. Los Angeles reports that use of cocaine may be decreasing slightly.

Crack users are increasingly buying large amounts of cocaine powder to "cook up" their own crack, rather than paying the higher per unit price for prepackaged crack. In New York some users believe that "basing your own" produces better quality crack.

Marijuana. Police in Washington, DC and Miami believe that domestically-grown marijuana is being shipped from Texas. Washington, DC police report marijuana being shipped to the area via UPS® or Fed Ex® in packages of up to 100 pounds, and then retailed in $5 and $10 packages.

Prescription Drugs. Police in San Francisco, Miami and Los Angeles report increased use of Xanax® and Prozac®. Rohypnol® use is being reported in Texas, Florida, and Delaware.

[Illegal use of Prozac® is a very striking development. Most clinicians report that the effects of Prozac® are very slow acting, making it an unlikely drug to be abused. I wonder if Prozac's® effect on serotonin affects the way other, illegal, drugs are experienced. -- EES]

Methamphetamine. Methamphetamine use is increasing beyond traditional use by members of motorcycle gangs and by older, poly-drug users. Treatment coordinators are seeing more and more young people with methamphetamine problems. The drug is now often used in the "rave" party circuit to enable the users to stay up late into the night. The report attributes most of the increase to methamphetamine imported from Mexico. Traditionally, the drug was manufactured in the United States.

Pulse Check is a quarterly report of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Information for this publication was gathered in January and February.

[To obtain a copy of this publication, contact the Drugs and Crime Data Center and Clearinghouse at 1600 Research Boulevard, Rockville MD 20850, 1-800-666-3332. Ask for the most recent Pulse Check.]