Over 1.6 Million Could Die From Drugs, Alcohol and Suicide Over Next Decade: Report

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More than 1.6 million Americans could die from drugs, alcohol and suicide over the next decade, a new report concludes. USA Today reports the findings come from the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust. The nonprofit group found in 2015, there were 39.7 deaths per 100,000 U.S. residents due to drugs, alcohol and suicide, compared with 23.1 deaths per 100,000 in 1999—a 72 percent increase. That number could rise to 56 deaths per 100,000 by 2025, the group said. “We see a connection among the three epidemics,” said John Auerbach, President and CEO of the Trust for America’s Health. “They are all behavioral health-related — that is, they have a substance abuse or mental health diagnosis associated with them.”
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Are Teens with Opioid Addiction Getting the Treatment They Need?

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Today’s opioid crisis knows no boundaries, especially when it comes to age. The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that “prescription and over the counter drugs [including prescription opioids] are among the most commonly abused drugs by 12th graders, after alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco.” Over the past 15 years, the number of children and teens hospitalized due to opioid poisoning has nearly doubled and it has been widely cited that most adults in treatment for opioid addiction started using illicit substances before the age of 18. These statistics make it clear that there is a need to effectively identify and treat addiction to opioids among young people in order to prevent the consequences of this disease from following them into adulthood, or worse — cutting their lives short. Unfortunately, young people are not receiving the opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment path most strongly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics:...
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Kellyanne Conway Will Oversee White House Response to Opioid Epidemic

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White House counselor Kellyanne Conway will lead the White House response to the opioid epidemic, U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions announced. Sessions said Conway will be charged with helping change the perception about opioids and reducing addictions and deaths, Newsweek reports. Conway, a lawyer, has no formal experience in drug policy or law enforcement, the article notes. Before working for the Trump Administration, she had her own polling company. Conway has promoted prevention programs as a way to combat drug use. In October, Conway told Fox News, “The best way to stop people from dying from overdoses and drug abuse is by not starting in the first place. That’s a big core message for our youth.”
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60 Percent of People Who Die From Opioid Overdose Suffer Chronic Pain

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A study of people who die from opioid overdoses found just over 60 percent suffer from chronic pain, HealthDay reports. Many also struggle with anxiety or depression, the researchers report in the American Journal of Psychiatry . The study included medical records of more than 13,000 adults who died from an opioid overdose between 2001 and 2007. “The frequent occurrence of treated chronic pain and mental health conditions among overdose decedents underscores the importance of offering substance use treatment services in clinics that treat patients with chronic pain and mental health problems,” said lead investigator Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University Medical Center.
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Significant Inequalities Between Mental and Physical Health Payments Uncovered

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Medical and surgical healthcare providers are receiving significantly higher payments from insurers than addiction and mental health practitioners for the same types of services, finds a groundbreaking, independent report published by Milliman, Inc. and released by a coalition of America’s leading mental health and addiction advocacy organizations including the Legal Action Center. In the Milliman report, commissioned by the Bowman Family Foundation, researchers found that along with payment disparities, which occur in 46 out of 50 states, “out-of-network” use of addiction and mental health treatment providers by consumers is extremely high when compared to medical and surgical providers. This perfect storm of factors reveals that patients are being forced into more costly out-of-network care, and can mean that treatment is abandoned altogether. When taken together, the analysis paints a stark picture of restricted access to affordable and much-needed addiction and mental health care in an era of escalating suicide rates...
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SAVE THE DATE: Join us December 14 for a Twitter Chat about Women and Alcohol

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Why are drinking guidelines different for women than men? How do the health effects of heavy drinking differ? Where can women turn for help if they have an alcohol problem? The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) are partnering for a Twitter Chat on women and alcohol. Bring your questions for NCADD and NIAAA experts as we discuss what women need to know about alcohol and their health. Date : Thursday, December, 14, 1:00-2:00 pm ET Hashtag : #FAQWomenDrinking NCADD Expert : Julie Dostal, PhD, Executive Director, LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addictions, Oneonta, NY and NCADD Board Member NIAAA Expert : Deidra Roach, MD, NIAAA Medical Project Officer
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SAMHSA Releases Resource on Preventing Opioid Overdose

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently released a resource titled “Preventing Opioid Overdose: Understanding Good Samaritan Laws”. This resource provides an overview of this overdose prevention strategy, including the aims of these laws and types of protections they can offer. Overdose Good Samaritan laws are policies that provide legal protections for individuals who call for emergency assistance (such as 9-1-1) in the event of a drug overdose. This may include protection from arrest and/or prosecution for crimes related to drug possession, drug paraphernalia possession, and other crimes. These laws are designed to encourage people to summon emergency assistance if they experience or witness a drug overdose. As of July 2017, 40 states and the District of Columbia have instituted Good Samaritan laws. Yet, lack of awareness and understanding of the protections these laws provide, as well as concerns about their limitations, may be limiting their effectiveness...
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Cost of Opioid Crisis Estimated at $504 Billion by the Council of Economic Advisers

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The Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) recently announced that the opioid drug problem has reached crisis levels in the United States—in 2015, over 33,000 Americans died of a drug overdose involving opioids. CEA finds that previous estimates of the economic cost of the opioid crisis greatly understate it by undervaluing the most important component of the loss—fatalities resulting from overdoses. The CEA report estimates the economic cost of these deaths using conventional economic estimates for valuing life routinely used by U.S. Federal agencies. It also adjusts for underreporting of opioids in overdose deaths, includes heroin-related fatalities, and incorporates nonfatal costs of opioid misuse. CEA estimates that in 2015, the economic cost of the opioid crisis was $504.0 billion, or 2.8 percent of GDP that year. This is over six times larger than the most recently estimated economic cost of the epidemic. Copy of the full report is available here ....
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Separating Side Effects Could Hold Key for Safer Opioids

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NIH-funded scientists may have revealed brain functions in pre-clinical research that widen the safety margin for opioid pain relief without overdose Opioid pain relievers can be extremely effective in relieving pain, but can carry a high risk of addiction and ultimately overdose when breathing is suppressed and stops. Scientists have discovered a way to separate these two effects -- pain relief and breathing -- opening a window of opportunity to make effective pain medications without the risk of respiratory failure. The research, published today in Cell, was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. Opioid medications suppress pain by binding to specific receptors (proteins) in the brain; these same receptors also produce respiratory suppression. However, the way these receptors act to regulate pain and breathing may be fundamentally different. Studies using mouse genetic models suggest that avoiding one particular signaling pathway...
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Some Experts Question Opioid Commission’s Marijuana Warning

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The chair of President Trump’s Opioid Commission warned about the dangers of marijuana, in a letter accompanying the release of the commission’s final report. Some experts are questioning the commission’s view that marijuana could further fuel the opioid crisis. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the chair of the commission, warned against legalizing marijuana in the midst of the opioid epidemic. One researcher, Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, a professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, told CNN she is surprised to see negative language about marijuana in the opioid report. “Research that examines pain and marijuana shows that marijuana use significantly reduces pain,” she said. “In addition, the majority of studies examining marijuana and opioids show that marijuana use is associated with less opioid use and less opioid-related deaths.” Dr. Cunningham is conducting the first long-term study to test whether medical marijuana reduces opioid use among adults with chronic...
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