Our very own Dr. Shoptaw recently co-authored a paper in the Lancet’s Series on Drug Use, titled “Responding to global stimulant use: challenges and opportunities.” In the paper, Dr. Shoptaw and co-authors discuss the rising problem of stimulant use, with an emphasis on amphetamine and cocaine use. The increase in use of this class of drugs requires specific, tailored responses to reduce the harm they bring to communities, both fatal and non-fatal, such as poor mental health, increased risks for sexually transmitted infections, and harm to the fetus in pregnant women. The authors discuss the impacts of stimulant use, and with modelling, they are able to estimate and discuss the additional new infections of both HIV and Hepatitis C, and what amount of those are due to the impact of stimulant use. In this paper, they discuss the specific risk of suicide, psychosis, depression, and violence and how the increase in use of stimulant impacts that risk.
In this work, Dr. Shoptaw and his co-authors advocate for moving towards adopting evidence-based approaches to reduce the harms of stimulants in communities, delivering them in an effective manner to people at risk or who use stimulants. Through this conversation, they highlight the fact that there are no approved medications for the treatment of stimulant use, and most psychosocial interventions aren’t particularly effective, with the exception of contingency management. Changing this fact will require substantial, significant work.