Current Substance Use Trends and Evolving Risks


For those who grew up associating drugs with natural sources like marijuana plants, poppy fields, and cocoa leaves, it can be tough to keep up with the shift to synthetic drugs made of chemicals some people may not know they’re ingesting. This workshop will help participants understand the current drug landscape, including stimulants (e.g. methamphetamine and cocaine), powerful opioids like fentanyl and nitazines, and xylazine, an animal tranquilizer increasingly showing up in the drug supply in some regions. It will also cover drug use trends, such as increasing polysubstance use, higher potency drugs, and the risks of mixing illicit drugs, alcohol, and medications. Participants will learn about factors that have contributed to rising overdose rates—including nonfatal overdoses—strategies to minimize risks, and how to recognize and respond to an overdose, as well as where to obtain naloxone.


Increase participants’ awareness of current drug use patterns, the increasing potency of both plant-based and synthetic drugs, and how to prevent, recognize, and respond to an overdose.

Workshop Outline:

  • Discuss drug use trends (increasing polysubstance use, shift to synthetics vs. plant-based drugs, mixing prescription medications & illicit drugs, increasing stimulant use).
  • Present graphics depicting increasing strength and potency of illicit drugs (cannabis, methamphetamine, etc.) and effects of different drugs.
  • Overview of fentanyl and xylazine as well as other drugs like nitazines + kratom.
  • Overdose statistics and definitions (opioid vs stimulant ODs).
  • Risk factors for an overdose (including nonfatal overdoses).
  • Strategies to reduce overdose risks.
  • Signs of an overdose.
  • Naloxone – brief overview and where to get it, plus sources for additional training.
  • Good Samaritan laws protecting people who respond to an overdose.

Trainer Bio

Susan Stellin, MPH is a writer, educator, and public health consultant focusing on health-centered responses to substance use and addiction. Since earning a master's in public health at Columbia University, she has worked on projects about ways to reduce overdose deaths, reform punitive drug policies, and expand access to harm reduction, treatment, and recovery support. Recent clients include NYU Langone’s Health x Housing Lab, the Northeast & Caribbean Addiction Technology Transfer Center, the Opioid Response Network, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Overdose Prevention Program at Vital Strategies, and the Vera Institute of Justice. She regularly leads training workshops for service providers working with people experiencing substance use, mental health, and housing challenges, and has also taught undergraduate courses about media ethics, collaborative storytelling, and the history of journalism.

Other Session in this Series:

Session 1: Addressing Myths About Substance Use, Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery

Session 3: Harm Reduction Principles, Strategies and Limits

Session 4: Understanding Addiction and Options for Care

Starts: Apr 10, 2024 11:00 am
Ends: Apr 10, 2024 12:30 pm
Registration Deadline
April 10, 2024
Event Type
Webinar/Virtual Training
Hosted by
Contact Us for More Info
Copyright © 2024 Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) Network