One Million People Use Heroin in U.S., Almost Triple the 2003 Rate

One Million People Use Heroin in U.S., Almost Triple the 2003 Rate
An estimated one million people used heroin in the United States in 2014, almost triple the 2003 rate, according to a new report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Heroin-related deaths have increased five-fold since 2000, the World Drug Report 2016 found. Heroin use is at its highest level in 20 years in the United States, CBS News reports. The report calls the rise in heroin use in some regions of the world alarming. “While the challenges posed by new psychoactive substances remain a serious concern, heroin continues to be the drug that kills the most people. This resurgence must be addressed urgently,” the report concludes. Western and Central Europe have also been hit hard by heroin use and overdose deaths in the last two years, the report notes. There was a sharp global decrease in opium production in 2015, but that is unlikely to lead to...
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Canadian Doctor to U.S. Senators: Consider Legally Prescribed Heroin to Fight Abuse

Canadian Doctor to U.S. Senators: Consider Legally Prescribed Heroin to Fight Abuse
The head of a Canadian clinic that provides legally prescribed heroin to people addicted to the drug told U.S. senators this week the strategy can reduce the risk of serious illness and premature death, while reducing drug-related crime. Dr. Scott MacDonald, lead physician at the Crosstown Clinic in Vancouver, Canada, told members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that providing legal heroin to people addicted to the drug can improve their mental and physical health, according to U.S. News & World Report . “While methadone and buprenorphine are effective treatments for many people and should remain first line responses, no single treatment is effective for all individuals,” MacDonald said in his testimony. “Every person left untreated is at high risk for serious illness and premature death.” The Crosstown Clinic is the only place in Canada that provides legal heroin, called diacetylmorphine. The clinic also provides...
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One Question About Drinking Can Help Doctors Find Teens at Risk for Alcohol Problems

One Question About Drinking Can Help Doctors Find Teens at Risk for Alcohol Problems
One question about drinking frequency in the past year can help doctors identify which teens are at risk for alcohol problems, a new study concludes. Teens ages 12 to 17 who report having at least one drink on three or more days in the past year are most at risk for alcohol problems. The study also supports the use of age-based screening thresholds recommended by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s (NIAAA) Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioner’s Guide. “Primary care physicians are encouraged to screen adolescents for alcohol problems, yet many do not, citing time constraints and other issues,” NIAAA Director George Koob, PhD said in a news release. “This study demonstrates that simple screening tools such as those in NIAAA’s Youth Guide are efficient and effective.” The study included almost 1,200 young people ages 12 to 20. They were asked about their alcohol...
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FDA Urges Creation of Generic Abuse-Deterrent Opioid Painkillers

FDA Urges Creation of Generic Abuse-Deterrent Opioid Painkillers
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is urging makers of generic drugs to redesign opioid painkillers to make them abuse-deterrent, according to HealthDay . Medications with abuse-deterrent properties are more difficult to crush or dissolve, making them harder to snort or inject. If a medication has abuse-deterrent properties, “it does not mean the product is impossible to abuse or that these properties necessarily prevent addiction, overdose or death – notably, the FDA has not approved an opioid product with properties that are expected to deter abuse if the product is swallowed whole,” the agency said in a statement. “By issuing the draft guidance, the FDA is helping to ensure that generic abuse-deterrent opioids are no less abuse deterrent than their brand-name counterparts,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said. “We hope that the availability of less costly generic products with abuse-deterrent properties has the potential to accelerate the shift away from...
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Almost 90 Percent of Teens Who Abuse ADHD Drugs Use Someone Else’s Medication

Almost 90 Percent of Teens Who Abuse ADHD Drugs Use Someone Else’s Medication
A study of teens finds almost 90 percent of those who abuse medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) say they used someone else’s medication. The study included more than 11,000 American children and teens ages 10 to 18, who were interviewed between 2008 and 2011. The researchers found seven percent said they had used a prescription stimulant drug in the past month, and more than half said their use of the drug was non-medical, HealthDay reports. Non-medical use included taking more pills than prescribed by their doctor, using someone else’s medication, or smoking, snorting or sniffing the medication instead of taking it orally. Using someone else’s medication was the most frequently reported form of misuse, at 88 percent, the researchers wrote in Drug and Alcohol Dependence . The study found 39 percent took more medication than prescribed. “It is so important for physicians and parents to counsel youth who...
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Some Health Professionals Starting to Change Prescribing Practices to Curb Abuse

Some Health Professionals Starting to Change Prescribing Practices to Curb Abuse
A new study of Indiana health professionals suggests some are beginning to change their prescribing and dispensing practices in response to prescription drug abuse in their communities, Forbes reports. Researchers found dentists are much less likely than other health professionals to be concerned about prescription drug abuse. Pharmacists, physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants were more concerned than dentists, the Georgia State University researchers found. They surveyed almost 6,000 health professionals in Indiana. The study revealed the majority said they were very concerned about prescription drug abuse. One-third of respondents said they have changed their prescribing behavior in the past few years. Most said they have reduced the frequency with which they are prescribing painkillers and other addictive substances, the article notes. A minority of respondents, mainly dentists, said they were relatively unconcerned about prescription drug abuse in their community. “The most interesting finding, in my opinion, is the remarkable...
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Massachusetts Dental Schools Will Train Students in Opioid Abuse Prevention

Massachusetts Dental Schools Will Train Students in Opioid Abuse Prevention
Dental schools in Massachusetts have agreed to begin training their students in opioid abuse prevention and management, WBUR reports. The state already has reached similar agreements with the heads of the state’s medical schools. “The fact is that over 80 percent of those prescriptions which are diverted or misused comes from prescriptions written by physicians and dentists,” said Dr. David Keith, a Massachusetts General Hospital oral surgeon who is also on the faculty at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. He said the agreement is a unique opportunity for the dental schools and the Massachusetts Dental Society to “come together to educate our dentists and advanced dental trainees in the correct prescribing of opioids,” including alternative pain management techniques and proper referral practices to other disciplines. The agreement between Governor Charlie Baker, the deans of the state’s dental schools, and the Massachusetts Dental Society will cover the 1,800 undergraduates and...
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