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Office of National Drug Control Policy Releases Quarterly Pulse Check


May 1996

Heroin and methamphetamine use is increasing and cocaine use has stabilized, the Office of National Drug Control Policy announced in its latest Pulse Check (Office of National Drug Control Policy, Pulse Check: National Trends in Drug Abuse, Winter 1995).

The issue is the first released by the new director of the office, Barry R. McCaffrey. Pulse Check is a compilation of often anecdotal reports from police, treatment providers, and ethnographers of the drug trade from around the country. It is designed to give a "heads up" on current developments in drug use and trafficking.

Pulse Check reports that heroin use is continuing to increase. Inhalation of the drug is gaining in popularity, as purity is increasing and price is falling. Most areas of the country report that heroin is still a drug of older users, but the youth market is increasing. Treatment providers say they are seeing more younger heroin users who have never sought treatment before.

Most areas of the country report that cocaine and crack use has stabilized, with the cocaine-using population generally growing older. In Western states, there is evidence that some cocaine users are switching to methamphetamine as that drug is becoming more available.

The manufacture of methamphetamine is shifting from motorcycle gangs to Mexican border groups, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Pulse Check notes that the price of methamphetamine increased after new precursor controls went into effect. Some areas are reporting health problems associated with the use of legal "herbal ecstasy" products made from ephedrine and caffeine.

[For a copy of Pulse Check, contact the Drugs and Crime Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 6000, Rockville, MD, 20849-6000, 1-800-666-3332.]