Drug Addiction Has Led To More Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Drug Addiction Has Led To More Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
The number of grandparents raising their grandchildren is going up and increasingly it’s because their own kids are addicted to heroin or prescription drugs, or have died from an overdose. For some, it’s a challenge with little help available. In 2005, 2.5 million children were living with grandparents who were responsible for their care. By 2015, that number had risen to 2.9 million. According to PBS Newshour, child welfare officials say drug addiction, especially to opioids, is behind much of the rise in the number of grandparents raising their grandchildren, just as it was during the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and ’90s. An estimated 2.4 million people were addicted to opioids at last count. Caseworkers in many states say a growing number of children are neglected or abandoned by parents who are addicted. That has forced them to take emergency steps to handle a growing crisis in foster care...
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Almost 60 Percent of Americans Have Opioids at Home They No Longer Use

Almost 60 Percent of Americans Have Opioids at Home They No Longer Use
Almost 60 percent of Americans say they have opioid painkillers at home that they no longer use, according to a new survey. Twenty percent say they have shared their opioid pills with another person. Almost 75 percent of those who shared their prescription said they did so to help someone else manage their pain, The Washington Post reports. An additional 17 percent said they shared their medication because the other person couldn’t afford medication or did not have insurance. The finding are published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researcher Colleen L. Barry of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said the survey indicates that many Americans do not realize sharing opioids can have non-intended consequences for people who are susceptible to addiction. She said health officials need to send “a clear-cut public health message that these medications should never be shared in any circumstance.” The survey found only 21 percent...
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Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Linked to 30% Drop in Opioid Prescribing

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Linked to 30% Drop in Opioid Prescribing
States that use prescription drug monitoring programs have seen a 30 percent decrease in the rate of prescriptions written for opioid painkillers, a new study finds. “This reduction was seen immediately following the launch of the program and was maintained in the second and third years afterward,” the researchers wrote in the journal Health Affairs. NBC News reports the researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York are not certain why the programs reduce opioid prescriptions. “It is possible that the implementation of a prescription drug monitoring program by itself substantially raised awareness among prescribers about controlled substance misuse and abuse and made them more cautious when prescribing pain medications with a great potential for abuse and dependency,” they wrote. “It is also possible that knowing that their prescribing was being ‘watched’ deterred them from prescribing Schedule II opioids to some extent,” they added. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration,...
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Increase in Drug Overdoses Contributes to Rising U.S. Death Rate

Increase in Drug Overdoses Contributes to Rising U.S. Death Rate
A rise in drug overdoses contributed to the increasing U.S. death rate last year, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The death rate increased for the first time in a decade, The New York Times reports. The overall death rate increased to 729.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015, up from 723.2 in 2014. The CDC found the death rate for drug overdoses increased to 15.2 per 100,000 people in the second quarter of 2015, compared with 14.1 in the second quarter the previous year. The rate for unintentional injuries, which include drug overdoses and car accidents, increased to 42 per 100,000 in the third quarter last year, up from 39.9 in the same quarter the previous year. More people also died from suicide and Alzheimer’s disease last year, the report found. The findings are preliminary, and are not broken down by race,...
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Opioid Use Increases Chronic Pain, Rat Study Finds

Opioid Use Increases Chronic Pain, Rat Study Finds
A new study that finds opioid use increases chronic pain in rats may have important implications for humans, according to researchers from the University of Colorado-Boulder. The researchers found that rats who received morphine for five days experienced chronic pain that continued for several months, by triggering the release of pain signals from spinal cord immune cells called glial cells. The findings may help explain the recent surge in prescription painkiller addiction, Forbes reports. “We are showing for the first time that even a brief exposure to opioids can have long-term negative effects on pain,” study author Peter Grace said in a news release. “We found the treatment was contributing to the problem.” Study co-author Linda Watkins added, “The implications for people taking opioids like morphine, oxycodone and methadone are great, since we show the short-term decision to take such opioids can have devastating consequences of making pain worse and longer...
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44% of Americans Know Someone Who Has Been Addicted to Prescription Painkillers

44% of Americans Know Someone Who Has Been Addicted to Prescription Painkillers
A new national poll finds 44 percent of Americans say they personally know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers, CNBC reports. Of these people, 26 percent said the person they knew was an acquaintance, while 21 percent said it was a close friend and 20 percent said it was a family member. Two percent said they had been addicted to painkillers themselves. The poll, released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found 58 percent of respondents said they believe lack of access to addiction treatment is a major problem. Among people who know someone addicted to painkillers, 61 percent said they were concerned about lack of treatment. People view heroin as a more serious problem than prescription painkillers, even though far fewer people die from heroin overdoses than from prescription opioids, the article notes. The poll found 35 percent of people view heroin abuse as an extremely serious problem, while...
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FDA Panel Will Consider Requiring Doctors to Undergo Opioid Prescribing Training

FDA Panel Will Consider Requiring Doctors to Undergo Opioid Prescribing Training
A panel of experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is meeting this week to consider whether to require doctors to undergo training to prescribe opioid painkillers. Doctors’ groups have resisted mandatory training, The New York Times reports. In 2012, the FDA rejected a recommendation from an expert panel that called for mandatory physician training for opioid prescribing. The panel said such training might help reduce overdose deaths from opioid painkillers. A spokeswoman for the FDA told the newspaper the agency now supports mandatory training. The panel is expected to make a recommendation on Wednesday.Since 2012, the FDA has required companies that make long-acting opioids, such as OxyContin, methadone and fentanyl, to underwrite voluntary medical education courses on prescribing the drugs. Recently, many of those companies said they support requiring physicians to have specific training or expertise in pain management before they can obtain a license from the Drug...
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DEA Announces National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

DEA Announces National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
The Drug Enforcement Administration announced the 11th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will take place on April 30th from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. As with the previous nine Take-Back events, sites will be set up nationwide so local residents can return their unwanted or expired prescription drugs for safe disposal. From 2010-2014, DEA officials said more than 2,000 tons of unwanted medication were collected. Community collection sites can be found by visiting dea.gov. The site will be continuously updated with new take-back locations.
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Sedative-Related Overdoses on the Rise

Sedative-Related Overdoses on the Rise
Fatal overdoses from benzodiazepines—sedatives sold under brand names such as Xanax, Valium and Ativan—are on the rise, a new study finds. Overdoses from benzodiazepines accounted for 31 percent of the almost 23,000 deaths from prescription drug overdoses in the United States in 2013, according to HealthDay. “As more benzodiazepines were prescribed, more people have died from overdoses involving these drugs,” said study author Dr. Joanna Starrels of Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “In 2013, more than 5 percent of American adults filled prescriptions for benzodiazepines. And the overdose death rate increased more than four times from 1996 to 2013.” She noted while there has been a large public health response to the epidemic of prescription opioid use, addiction and overdose, there has not been much response to the increase in prescription benzodiazepine deaths. Dr. Starrels said the rate of deaths from benzodiazepines is still lower than deaths from opioid overdoses, but...
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Walgreens to Install Disposal Kiosks for Prescription Drugs at More Than 500 Stores

Walgreens to Install Disposal Kiosks for Prescription Drugs at More Than 500 Stores
Walgreens announced recently it will install kiosks in more than 500 stores in 39 states by the end of the year to allow customers to safely dispose of unneeded or expired prescription drugs. The pharmacy chain will also make the opioid overdose antidote naloxone available without a prescription in 35 states and Washington, D.C. Customers will be able to dispose of unwanted, unused or expired prescriptions, including controlled substances and over-the-counter medications, at no cost, the company said. Most of the kiosks will be located in stores open 24 hours a day. They will “offer one of the best ways to ensure medications are not accidentally used or intentionally misused by someone else,” the company stated. “By continuing to counsel our patients on the safe and effective use of medications and by making this opioid antidote more accessible, we’re going to be proactive in fixing this problem,” Richard Ashwood, President of...
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