Older Men Drink More Regularly, but Younger Men Drink More

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Among the 67% of U.S. men who drink alcohol, those aged 50 and older are more likely than those under 50 to say they have imbibed within the last 24 hours, which suggests older men drink more frequently than younger men. However, younger men likely drink more than older men on the occasions when they do consume alcohol. Men in all age groups drink more often than women do. U.S. men aged 50 and older report they consumed an average of 5.3 alcoholic drinks over the past seven days, while men aged 18 to 49 had an average of 6.2 drinks. Both older and younger women report drinking fewer than three alcoholic beverages in the last week. These data come from aggregated results of Gallup's Consumption Habits Survey from 2001-2017, totaling interviews with 11,544 U.S. adults who drink alcohol. The type of drinks that men and women prefer may at...
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Many Drug Dealers Test Strength of Synthetic Opioids on Customers

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Many drug dealers use their customers to test the strength of the synthetic opioids they sell, the Associated Press reports. They want the drugs to be strong enough to keep their customers coming back, but not strong enough to kill them. Local dealers take fentanyl made in Chinese labs and use powders such as baby formula to increase its volume and street value. “It is sick and awful that dealers are treating people this way,” said Bradley Ray, Director of the Center for Criminal Justice Research at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, who studies overdose prevention. “It is sad that things have come to this. (Testers’) addictions will push them to take that; they’re not thinking clearly.”
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Hospitals Missing Opportunities to Help Opioid Overdose Survivors

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A new study suggests hospitals are missing opportunities to help opioid overdose survivors avoid future overdoses. The researchers looked at claims data before and after overdoses among Medicaid patients who overdosed on heroin in Pennsylvania from 2008 to 2013, NPR reports. The filling of opioid prescriptions fell by only 3.5 percent, while medication-assisted treatment rose by only 3.6 percent. Medication-assisted treatment—buprenorphine, naltrexone or methadone—is considered the gold standard treatment for opioid addiction, the article notes. “This is a time when people are vulnerable, potentially frightened by this event that’s just occurred and amenable to advice, referral and treatment recommendations,” said study senior author Julie Donohue of the University of Pittsburgh. “It’s safe to characterize it as a missed opportunity for the health system to respond.”
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President Has Not Yet Taken Action to Declare Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency

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Although President Trump announced in August that he was declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency, he has not yet taken formal steps to do so, CBS News reports. If he does officially declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, then FEMA can make money available to states, the article notes. States could also request aid, and public health workers could be redeployed to fight the epidemic. Dr. Cece McNamara Spitznas, who works in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said, “What the powers are related to a national emergency and trying to determine how would that apply in this situation — it requires a lot of specialist eyes to take a look. And a lot of people to sit around and sort of go through exactly what we can do legally, and across all the different parts. I think we’re in that phase of looking at...
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Fentanyl is a Major Cause of Increase in Heroin-Related Deaths

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Half of the increase in deaths involving heroin after 2013 can be attributed to heroin mixed with fentanyl, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 33,000 people died of an opioid overdose in the United States in 2015, HealthDay reports. Opioid overdoses accounted for 63 percent of drug overdose deaths in the United States that year. Between 2010 and 2015, heroin overdose deaths quadrupled, from 3,036 to 12,989. A second study by the CDC found about 90 percent of overdose deaths in Ohio early this year involved fentanyl or a chemically related substance. Only 6 percent involved heroin. Young Men and Women’s Brains DO Not Function the Same after Heavy Alcohol Use According to a recent article in Science Daily , Scientists have found that brain functions in young men and women are changed by long-term alcohol use, but that these changes...
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Alcohol May Affect Brain Function Differently in Men and Women

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A new study presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology conference finds that chronic alcohol use affects the brain cells of young men and women differently. Participants of the preliminary study did not have alcohol use disorder, but were classified as heavy drinkers. All participants were also in their 20s, suggesting that alcohol-related brain changes may not take very long to develop. The participants included 11 men and 16 women between the ages of 23 and 28 years, who all reported "heavy" drinking patterns over the previous 10 years. People who reported little or no alcohol use served as controls. Interestingly, the researchers found differences in the activity of receptors for the neurotransmitter GABA – which plays an important function in regulating anxiety and is thought to play a role in depression. "Generally, our work showed that alcohol causes more pronounced changes in both electrical and chemical neurotransmission in men...
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Increasing Availability of Medication-Assisted Treatment Using Buprenorphine

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Many people who need treatment for substance use disorders are not receiving it. Though there are many physicians with waivers to provide buprenorphine for medication-assisted treatment, they tend to be clustered in and around urban centers,leaving many rural counties without access to treatment. In fact, 60.1 percent of rural counties in the United States lack a physician with a DATA 2000 waiver to prescribe buprenorphine. To widen the availability of medication-assisted treatment using buprenorphine, the 2016 Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act authorized SAMHSA to allow nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) to apply for waivers to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction. To receive the DATA 2000 waiver, NPs and PAs must complete 24 hours of training (triple the 8 hours required of physicians). To make training more accessible to NPs and PAs, including those in remote areas, SAMHSA offers the training free through the Providers' Clinical Support System...
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New Drinking Study Causes Concern

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The drinking culture in America is changing…for the worse. A research study published in JAMA Psychiatry compared two large studies where American adults self-reported their drinking behaviors. The first study was conducted from 2001 to 2002 and compared to a recent study from 2012 to 2013. Overall, Americans who reported they drank at least once in a year-long period increased by 11 percent. High-risk drinking, meaning drinking four or more beverages per day at least once a week for women and five or more for men, increased by 30 percent. One of the most concerning finds – alcohol use disorders, more commonly referred to as alcoholism, increased by almost 50 percent. Honing in on gender demographics, women had some of the greatest increases. High-risk consumption increased by 60 percent among them and alcohol use disorder rose 84 percent. In a news article, 2017 National Leadership Forum speaker George Koob, the...
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Alcohol Abuse, Mental Health Causes of Avoidable U.S. ER visits

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A new study found that 3.5 percent of all emergency department visits in the United States were avoidable and for non-life-threatening conditions. The study, published in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care, found the top three discharge diagnoses for hospital emergency departments in the United States were alcohol abuse, dental disorders and mood disorders like anxiety or depression. Researchers defined avoidable visits as those where there was no requirement of diagnostic or screening services, procedures or medications, with patients being discharged home. Researchers analyzed data from 424 million emergency department visits by patients age 18 to 64 from 2005 to 2011 and found 6.8 percent of all avoidable visits were due to alcohol abuse or mood disorders. Roughly 3.9 percent of avoidable visits were due to dental disorders of the teeth and jaw. The study found that 16.9 percent of all mood disorder visits were avoidable, 10.4 percent...
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September is National Recovery Month

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is sponsoring the 23rd National Recovery Month (Recovery Month). This long-standing, national observance promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for substance use and mental disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible. The goal is to educate Americans that addiction treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover. Each September, thousands of prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and services around the country celebrate their successes and share them with their neighbors, friends,...
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