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Criminal justice professor explores hype over emerging drugs in new book

January 17, 2014

From the widely leaked clip believed to be Miley Cyrus using Salvia divinorum to the 2012 cannibal attack by Rudy Eugene in Florida initially blamed on bath salts, a new book published this month by Loyola University New Orleans criminal justice professor David Khey, Ph.D., explores the phenomenon of new types of drugs and the extraordinary events linked to them.

Khey’s book, “Emerging Trends in Drug Use and Distribution,” was published by Springer as a part of its “SpringerBriefs in Criminology” series. Khey’s colleagues John Stogner, Ph.D., at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Bryan Lee Miller, Ph.D., at Georgia Southern University also worked with him on the book project.

At the heart of the book’s claim lies the idea that an informed society should rely on facts about a substance’s full impact, including pharmacology, effects, use patterns, distribution and risk potential. In the case of Eugene, though it was subsequently confirmed that he did not have bath salts in his system at the time of the attack, the public at large still considers cannibalism as a side effect of bath salts, synthetic cathinones. While these reports are based on inaccurate information and isolated incidents, concern over new drugs is warranted as they present a clear threat to public health, according to Khey. “Emerging Trends in Drug Use and Distribution” claims that society should react with a reasoned and analytical approach, rather than react with panic and sensationalism.

The book recommends that policymakers should initially refrain from outright bans on new drugs until the full consequences of these policies are understood. That’s important as the negative effects of over-regulation could lead users to resort to more dangerous street drugs, among other unintended consequences.

“We hope that decision makers will begin to see the emergence of new psychoactive drugs not as unique overwhelming crises, but as patterned events that may be managed,” Khey writes. “For students, researchers and parents, we wish to provide a balanced source of information on this topic. But most importantly, we wish to dispel misconceptions and shine light on actualized problems to give us a clear understanding of the issues pertaining to emerging drugs.”

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