Hospital Treatment Rates for Heroin Surge While Rates for Prescription Opioids Drop

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Hospital treatment rates for heroin rose more than 31 percent between 2008 and 2014, while treatment rates for prescription opioids have declined, according to a new study. Hospital discharge rates for prescription opioid poisonings decreased each year by about 5 percent between 2010 and 2014, the study found. Lead researcher Tina Hernandez-Boussard of Stanford University said the results provide evidence that people addicted to prescription opioids are turning to heroin because it is cheaper and easier to get, HealthDay reports. “I’m cautiously optimistic that prescribing clinicians are positively reacting to the opioid crisis and therefore prescription opioids are contributing less to the overall drug epidemic,” Dr. Hernandez –Boussard said in a news release. The findings are published in Health Affairs .
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Survey Results Shed Light on Substance Use Initiation Trends

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Illicit drug use initiation was highest for marijuana in 2016, followed by prescription pain relievers, tranquilizers and stimulants, according to national data. A recent article in Healio.com – Psychiatric Annals referenced these findings. “Whether someone engages in substance use is associated with several risk factors that are typically correlated with an increased likelihood of substance use (eg, perception of low risk of harm from using a substance, easy availability of substances) and protective factors that are typically associated with a decreased likelihood of substance use (eg, exposure to prevention messages),” Rachel N. Lipari, PhD, of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and colleagues wrote. To determine risk, protective factors and estimates for substance use initiation, researchers analyzed data from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) for individuals aged 12 years and older. More than four out of five individuals perceived great risk for harm...
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Study Highlights Unmet Treatment Needs Among Adults With Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

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Despite current treatment guidelines, fewer than 10 percent of adults with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders receive treatment for both disorders, and more than 50 percent do not receive treatment for either disorder. The findings highlight a large gap between the prevalence of co-occurring disorders and treatment rates among U.S. adults and the need to identify effective approaches to increasing treatment for those with these conditions. An analysis of data from U.S. adults with both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder indicates that only 9.1 percent of those adults received both types of care over the past year, and 52.5 percent received neither mental health care nor substance use treatment. The study, based on data collected from the 2008-2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, reports that 3.3 percent of the adult U.S. population, or some 7.7 million individuals, suffers from both a mental...
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NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator Helps Find Quality Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder

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Described as a “game-changer” by individuals in the alcohol treatment community! An important new online resource is now available to help people recognize and find high quality treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), which affects more than 15 million adults in the United States. The NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator helps individuals and their loved ones negotiate the often-complicated process of choosing treatment for alcohol misuse by telling them what they need to know, and what they need to do, to recognize and choose quality care. The landmark Navigator website is comprehensive, yet easy-to-use -- guiding users through a step-by-step process to find highly-qualified treatment professionals. It helps create informed consumers by describing AUD and the various treatment options available, explaining the importance of “evidence-based” practices, providing tips on how to recognize five signs of quality care, and recommending specific steps to find quality treatment, including 10 questions to ask potential...
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Do We Have an Amphetamine Problem on College Campuses?

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College is a stressful time for students. Balancing the rigors of studying and coursework with the social and financial demands of college life can be particularly challenging. Some students try to deal with these challenges by taking amphetamines or stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin, thinking it will improve their focus and academic performance or allow them to stay awake and alert late into the night to study, work or party. While Adderall has proven benefits for individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), taking amphetamines for nonmedical or non-prescribed purposes can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. What are amphetamines? Amphetamines are central nervous system stimulants that have been used in many forms over the years as a way to reduce hunger and fatigue or improve mental focus. Amphetamines are also an addictive substance and can have severe side effects for individuals who misuse them or take them for non-medical purposes....
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Study: Just One E-Cigarette with Nicotine Can Cause Heart Damage in Nonsmokers

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Puffing just one e-cigarette with nicotine can cause damage to the heart of nonsmokers, a new study suggests. The study included 33 healthy nonsmokers. On different days, participants used an e-cigarette with nicotine, an e-cigarette without nicotine or an empty device. Researchers measured adrenaline levels in the heart. They found participants had a pattern of abnormal heart rate variability, indicating increased adrenaline levels, after they used the e-cigarette with nicotine. They determined the increased levels were due to the inhaled nicotine and not the non-nicotine components of the e-cigarette aerosol, Newsweek reports. The findings appear in the Journal of the American Heart Association .
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Drug Industry and Government Announce Efforts to Combat Opioid Crisis

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Drug company and government officials announced new efforts designed to fight opioid addiction during a meeting of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking to build partnerships to find non-addictive alternatives to opioids for treating pain, according to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins. Stephen Ubl, CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, told the commission it will support limiting the supply of opioids to seven days, instead of the traditional 30-day supply for short-term pain relief and minor treatments. The senior director of U.S. WorldMed told the commission the company is awaiting feedback from the Food and Drug Administration on their new drug Lofexidine. If approved, the drug would be the first and only non-narcotic product used for treating opioid withdrawal, CBS News reports.
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CVS Sets Limits on Opioid Prescriptions

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CVS announced it will set limits on opioid prescriptions and add in-store disposal units for consumers so they can drop off unwanted and unused medications. CVS said it wants to ensure that opioids are being prescribed and used appropriately, consistent with guidelines for prescribing opioids set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to a company news release, CVS will limit the supply of opioids dispensed for certain acute prescriptions to seven days; limit the daily dosage of opioids dispensed based on the strength of the opioid; and require the use of immediate-release formulations of opioids before extended-release opioids are dispensed. USA Today reports the company will instruct pharmacists to contact doctors when they come across prescriptions that appear to offer more medication than would be deemed necessary for a patient’s recovery.
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FDA: Don’t Mix Opioid Addiction Medication with Anti-Anxiety Drugs

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new warning about mixing medication to treat opioid addiction with anti-anxiety drugs. Both types of drugs slow breathing and brain activity. Combining opioid addiction medications with anti-anxiety drugs can lead to difficulty breathing, coma or death, the agency said. In addition to anti-anxiety drugs such as Valium and Xanax, other drugs that should not be combined with opioid addiction medication include Ambien and Lunesta for insomnia, muscle relaxers Soma and Zanaflex, and antipsychotic drugs Abilify, Invega, and Saphris, the Associated Press reports. Buprenorphine and methadone, also known as medication-assisted treatment, reduce opioid cravings and withdrawal without producing a high. The FDA is requiring changes to medication-assisted treatment drug labels. The new labels recommend that health care providers develop a treatment plan that closely monitors any simultaneous use of these drugs.
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Mandatory Guidelines for Urine Testing Updated

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New federal mandatory guidelines for workplace drug testing became effective on October 1, 2017, and will include the authority to test for four semi-synthetic opioids: oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. These are prescription opioid pain medications that have commonly known names such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, Dilaudid, etc. These four prescription pain medications were added to the standard testing panel because data indicates that although they are prescribed, they are the prescription pain medications that are most frequently used without medical authority. However, under the revised Mandatory Guidelines, positive drug testing results that have a legitimate medical explanation (e.g., supported by a valid prescription), as determined by a Medical Review Officer (MRO), will not be reported to federal agencies. These revised Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs using Urine (UrMG) affect all federal employees in a testing designated position, which is defined by each agency’s Drug-Free Workplace Program....
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