NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator: Pointing the Way to Quality Care

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  Source: Blog by George F. Koob, PhD. NIAAA Director Welcome to my first-ever NIAAA Director’s Blog. I look forward to using this space to discuss significant advances in alcohol research and to highlight work supported by NIAAA. In this first installment, I would like to introduce you to an exciting and important new online resource developed by NIAAA – the Alcohol Treatment Navigator. In any given year, more than 15 million adults in the US meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder (AUD), but less than 10% of them receive treatment. Meanwhile, many of those in treatment may not receive the care that best fits their needs. What accounts for this alcohol “treatment gap?” Often, finding quality AUD care can be complicated, and many people aren’t aware of the full range of available treatment options. It can also be difficult to tell if a provider is offering good...
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DEA Collects Record Number Of Unused Pills As Part Of Its 14th Prescription Drug Take Back Day

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The public returns record number of potentially dangerous prescription drugs Americans nationwide did their part to reduce the opioid crisis by bringing the DEA and its more than 4,200 local and tribal law enforcement partners a record-setting 912,305 pounds-456 tons-of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for disposal at more than 5,300 collection sites. That is almost six tons more than was collected at last spring's event.This brings the total amount of prescription drugs collected by DEA since the fall of 2010 to 9,015,668 pounds, or 4,508 tons. Now in its 8th year, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events continue to remove ever-higher amounts of opioids and other medicines from the nation's homes, where they could be stolen and abused by family members and visitors, including children and teens. The DEA action comes just days after President Donald J. Trump announced the mobilization of his entire Administration...
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NIDA Launches Two Adolescent Substance Use Screening Tools

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has launched two evidenced-based online screening tools that providers can use to assess substance use disorder risk among adolescents 12-17 years old. These tools can be self-administered or completed by clinicians in less than two minutes. They are being offered through the NIDAMED Web Portal . The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends universal screening in pediatric primary settings, and these tools help providers quickly and easily introduce brief, evidence-based screenings into their clinical practices. Providers can select the tool that best fits their practice. The screening options are: Brief Screener for Alcohol, Tobacco, and other Drugs (BSTAD) Screening to Brief Invention (S2BI) For more information on adolescent substance use screening tools, click here .
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Patients Treated with Naloxone Continue to be at High Risk of Overdose: Study

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A new study finds 10 percent of people saved by the opioid overdose antidote naloxone die within a year of treatment. “Patients who survive opioid overdoses are by no means ‘out of the woods,'” lead study author Scott Weiner, MD, Director of the Brigham Comprehensive Opioid Response and Education Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a news release. “These patients continue to be at high-risk for overdose and should be connected with additional resources such as counseling, treatment and buprenorphine.” The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Emergency Physicians, found half of patients who died within a year of naloxone treatment died within one month of treatment, HealthDay reports.
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New Rule Allows Health Providers to Share Information about Overdose with Family

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Under a new federal rule, health providers will be allowed to share information about a drug overdose with family members if the patient is in crisis or incapacitated. The new rule, announced by the Trump Administration, relaxes a federal privacy rule that has prevented health providers from notifying family members about an overdose, The Wall Street Journal reports. “We know that support from family members and friends is key to helping people struggling with opioid addiction, but their loved ones can’t help if they aren’t informed of the problem,” Roger Severino, Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement. “Our clarifying guidance will give medical professionals increased confidence in their ability to cooperate with friends and family members to help save lives.” The rule was created in the 1970s, when soldiers returning from Vietnam with substance use disorders avoided...
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Addressing the Opioid Crisis Means Confronting Socioeconomic Disparities

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Blog by Dr. Nora Volkow, Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) The brain adapts and responds to the environments and conditions in which a person lives. When we speak of addiction as a chronic disorder of the brain, it thus includes an understanding that some individuals are more susceptible to drug use and addiction than others, not only because of genetic factors but also because of stress and a host of other environmental and social factors in their lives that have made them more vulnerable. Opioid addiction is often described as an “equal opportunity” problem that can afflict people from all races and walks of life, but while true enough, this obscures the fact that the opioid crisis has particularly affected some of the poorest regions of the country, such as Appalachia, and that people living in poverty are especially at risk for addiction and its consequences like overdose...
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Drug Use Disorder vs. Drug Misuse - What is the Difference?

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In 2016, approximately 2.1 million Americans over the age of 11 suffered from addiction to opioids such as the prescription pain medications OxyContin and Vicodin or the illegal drug heroin. Yet, 11.8 million people – nearly six times as many – reported misusing opioids, primarily prescription medications. Although it does not receive the same media attention as addiction – clinically known as opioid use disorder - this startling figure highlights a serious yet often overlooked problem within our society: the issue of opioid misuse. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “DRUG USE DISORDER” AND “DRUG MISUSE”? As the clinical term for drug addiction, drug use disorder (DUD) describes a complex disease that affects both the brain and the body. DUD, characterized by the compulsive use of one or more drugs, such as opioids, despite serious health and social consequences, typically develops during an individual’s adolescence and may affect him/her for an...
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NCADD Affiliate Executive Director Featured in NY Times Op Ed

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Fay Zenoff, Executive Director of NCADD’s San Francisco Affiliate, the Center for Open Recovery, was featured in an Op Ed in the November 5 New York Times . The piece, entitled, “Let’s Open Up About Addiction,” by Laura Hilgers, talks about the new openness toward recovery, including its risks as well as its benefits. Ms. Hilgers, who has a child in recovery, acknowledges the safety that anonymity provides but also the value of hearing from those, such as Fay, who are leading successful lives in recovery. Click here to read the article.
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President’s Commission on Opioid Crisis Calls for Nationwide System of Drug Courts

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President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released its final report, calling for expanding drug courts into all 94 federal court jurisdictions. The commission also recommended easier access to alternatives to opioids to treat pain, The Washington Post reports. Drug courts are specialized court programs that target criminal defendants and offenders, juvenile offenders, and parents with pending child welfare cases who have alcohol and other drug dependency problems. The commission made more than 50 recommendations, including requiring doctors and others who prescribe opioids to demonstrate they have received training in safely providing the drugs before they can renew their licenses to handle controlled substances with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Providers should be required to check prescription drug monitoring databases to ensure patients aren’t “doctor shopping” for prescription drugs, the commission said. In some states, use of the databases is voluntary, the article notes.
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Fentanyl is Key Factor Driving Opioid Overdose Deaths: CDC

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Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is a key factor driving opioid overdose deaths, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fentanyl and similar drugs, such as carfentanil, are increasingly contributing to a complex illegal opioid market with significant public health implications, the CDC said. The CDC analyzed toxicology reports from almost 5,200 fatal opioid overdoses in 10 states between July and December 2016. They found fentanyl and similar drugs were directly responsible for more than half of the opioid overdose deaths, HealthDay reports. In most cases, fentanyl or similar drugs were mixed into heroin, often without the knowledge of the people who overdosed. In almost half of fatal overdoses involving fentanyl, the drugs were injected. Fatal overdoses also occurred when drugs were swallowed or snorted, the CDC said.
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