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St. Louis Police Saving Fewer Lives with Heroin Antidote Amid Stronger Opiates

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The number of people that police in St. Louis have been able to save using the heroin overdose antidote naloxone, or Narcan, has declined by approximately 30 percent this year, compared to last year, according to the Associated Press . The St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office reported that nearly 90 percent of 121 overdose deaths through July of this year involved the drug fentanyl. Sometimes mixed with or sold as heroin, fentanyl is a powerful opiate that is considered stronger than heroin, making reversing an overdose from fentanyl more difficult. “The toxicity level of fentanyl is so potent, it might not be reversible,” said Spring Schmidt, director of health promotion and public health research for St. Louis County. “The potential for death is faster, and that impacts our ability to reverse an overdose.” Health officials noted that fentanyl overdoses may require more than one dose of Narcan to successfully...
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FDA Approves First Monthly Injection to Treat Opioid Addiction

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The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first ever buprenorphine injection for the treatment of moderate-to-severe opioid use disorder (OUD) in adult patients. The new injection is the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) option, Sublocade, which provides a new treatment option for patients in recovery from opioid addiction who may value the benefits of a once-monthly injection, compared to other forms of buprenorphine treatment. MAT is a comprehensive approach that combines approved medications (currently, methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone) with counseling and other behavioral therapies to help provide effective treatment and long-term recovery in patients with OUD. “Given the scale of the opioid crisis, with millions of Americans already affected, the FDA is committed to expanding access to treatments that can help people pursue lives of sobriety. Everyone who seeks treatment for opioid use disorder deserves the opportunity to be offered the treatment best suited to the needs of each individual patient,...
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NCADD Affiliate Executive Director Featured in TEDx Event

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  In September of 2017, Oneonta, NY hosted its first TEDx event with the theme of "Tipping Point." Among the inaugural group of TEDx speakers was Julie Dostal, Executive Director of the Otsego County Affiliate in Oneonta and an NCADD Board Member. The title of her talk was "Expendable People" as a way to bring light to the real human impact of policy decisions related to addictive substances. Her hope was to "tip" the culture toward an understanding of the public health implications of economic strategies built on the likes of alcohol, marijuana, and gambling. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event....
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Criminal Justice System Could Play Key Role in Better Treatment for Opioid Addiction

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A new study published in the December issue of Health Affairs , found that just 5 percent of people referred for opioid addiction treatment by the U.S. criminal justice system receive the best treatment, according to HealthDay . In contrast, the study found that 40 percent of people referred for opioid addiction treatment by other sources – including health care providers, employers or themselves – were treated with medication. Medications such as methadone and buprenorphine are considered the most effective way to treat opioid addiction, said researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They help control withdrawal symptoms and cravings that can lead to relapse and they reduce the risk for overdose. The low rate of referrals for treatment medication among people in the criminal justice system highlights a missed opportunity to connect the people at the highest risk for opioid addiction with effective treatment, the researchers...
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Surgeons Try Prescribing Fewer Opioids to Combat Addiction Risks

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NPR reports that a group of surgeons at the University of Michigan has devised an approach that could lead to significant changes in how opioids are prescribed and help curb the nation’s opioid epidemic – prescribing fewer opioids after surgery. Their findings were published this week in the journal, JAMA Surgery . The group of surgeons suggests that to lower the risk of opioid addiction, surgeons should prescribe patients fewer painkillers after surgery — a critical time when many people are first introduced to what can be highly addictive opioid medications. They should also talk with patients about proper use of opioids and the associated addiction risks. The researchers identified 170 post-surgery patients and surveyed them within a year of their gallbladder operations, inquiring about how many pills they actually used. They employed the findings to create new hospital guidelines that cut back on the standard opioid prescription for gallbladder...
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Deaths During Opioid-Related Hospital Stays in U.S. Quadrupled

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A new study released earlier this week confirms that deaths in opioid-related hospital stays in the U.S. have quadrupled between 1993 and 2014, PBS NewsHour reports. Zirui Song, an assistant professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, launched the study in 2016 in an effort to gain a better understanding of the patients he treated. Dr. Song analyzed nearly 385,000 hospital stays involving patients who were admitted for opioid use with data from the National Inpatient Sample of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, a national database compiled by the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality. His research confirmed that by 2014, four times as many patients died from opioid-related causes while staying in the hospital, rising from 0.43 percent before 2000 to 2.02 percent. Over the same time period, the study also found that patients admitted to the hospital for opioid...
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Why is America Addicted to Opioid Pain Relievers?

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Opioid medications, sometimes known as pain relievers, are the most widely prescribed class of drugs worldwide. While the United States represents about five percent of the world’s population, it consumes 80 percent of the global opioid supply. Not surprisingly, the U.S. is also suffering from the most severe opioid addiction and overdose crisis it has ever experienced. But, this didn’t happen overnight. Several factors contributed to the unprecedented use – and misuse – of opioids in this country. A Dramatic Increase In The Supply Of Prescription Pain Relievers In 1998, state medical boards changed the laws governing opioid prescriptions. Instead of limiting the use of opioids to treat severe cancer-related pain – which had consistently been the case before – they began allowing the prescription of opioids to treat moderate, non-cancer pain. This meant that people with back injuries, broken bones, toothaches and other ailments could now receive powerful opioids,...
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Alcohol: America’s #1 Addiction Problem

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More than two million Americans are addicted to opioids, ranging from the illegal drugs heroin and fentanyl to the prescription medications OxyContin and Vicodin, yet eight times as many people misuse or are addicted to a substance that is more widely available and easier to access. This substance is alcohol. Despite the fact that it has largely retreated from public consciousness in the context of the current opioid epidemic, research shows that rates of alcohol misuse and addiction are on the rise. The Rates Continue To Climb Recent reports indicate that nearly 16 million people ages 12 and older have an alcohol use disorder (AUD), better known as alcohol addiction. This represents an almost 50 percent increase from figures reported just 10 years prior. Additionally, the number of people who engage in high-risk drinking (more than five drinks at a given time for men, four for women) increased by nearly...
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Millennials and Baby Boomers Hardest Hit by Opioid Epidemic

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Millennials and Baby Boomers appear to be the age groups hardest hit by the opioid crisis, doctors at Columbia University conclude. Millennials (people in their 20s and 30s) have higher death rates from heroin than other age groups, while Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) have higher rates of death from both prescription opioids and heroin, the researchers report in the American Journal of Public Health . The study found Baby Boomers were up to 27 percent more likely to die of a prescription opioid overdose, compared with people born in the late 1970s, HealthDay reports. They were up to one-third more likely to die of a heroin overdose. Millennials were 23 percent more likely to die of a heroin overdose compared with those born in the late 1970s.
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Understanding the Difference between Physical Dependence and Addiction

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In a recent hearing before Congress, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb spoke about the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic and what his agency is doing to address it. While Dr. Gottlieb is not the first to note the massive scale of this crisis, he did bring up one often-overlooked component of its much-needed solution – distinguishing between an opioid addiction and a physical dependence on opioids. Although frequently conflated, differentiating between these two conditions is essential to break the stigma associated with what has proven to be the most effective form of opioid addiction treatment: medication-assisted treatment (MAT) – a treatment approach that combines the use of medications such as methadone and buprenorphine with behavioral counseling. To make progress in ending the opioid epidemic and help people with addiction, families, health professionals and policymakers must understand and appreciate the important difference between physical dependence and...
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