Drug Overdose Deaths Continue to Climb: CDC

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The rate of drug overdose deaths continues to increase in the United States, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The death rate for drug overdoses reached 19.9 cases per 100,000 people last summer, compared with 16.7 per 100,000 the previous summer, HealthDay reports. The CDC also found an increase in drug overdose deaths for the 12-month period ending in September 2016, compared with the same period a year before—18.5 overdose deaths per 100,000, up from 16.1 deaths per 100,000. Of the 52,404 overdose deaths in 2015, the CDC found 33,091 involved opioids. Prescription or synthetic opioid pain relievers were involved in more than two-thirds of opioid-related overdose deaths.
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College Students Engaging in Less Binge Drinking

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The rate of binge drinking among college students is dropping, according to a study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Binge drinking among college students increased from 37 percent to 45 percent between 1999 and 2005, but declined to 37 percent by 2014, the study found. Among young adults not enrolled in college, rates of binge drinking rose from 36 percent in 1999 to 40 percent in 2014, HealthDay reports. The findings are published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs . “A number of factors may have contributed to the recent reduction in binge drinking and its related problems among college students,” lead researcher Ralph Hingson said in a news release. He noted an increased emphasis by college administrators on adopting interventions aimed at reducing problem drinking may have played a role.
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DEA Takes Action Against Doctors for Prescribing Opioids to Patients who Overdose

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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is taking action against an increasing number of doctors for prescribing opioids to patients who overdose, according to CNN . The DEA took action against 479 doctors in 2016, compared with 88 doctors in 2011. Most people who misuse prescription opioids get them for free from a friend or relative, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Those who are at highest risk of overdose (using prescription opioids nonmedically 200 or more days a year) get them in ways that are different from those who use them less frequently,” the CDC notes on its website. Among those at highest risk of overdose, 27 percent get opioids using their own prescriptions. A study published last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine found 91 percent of people who survived an opioid overdose were able to get another prescription for opioids.
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O'Brien House Expands Essay Contest to Include Louisiana

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O'Brien House is expanding its first essay contest open to high school students to include the entire state of Louisiana. O’Brien House is the Baton Rouge, LA Affiliate of NCADD. The contest's purpose is to offer a creative outlet to young people who have been personally touched by addiction in order to provide therapy and increase awareness about the effects of addiction among today's youth. The contest launched on June 12th, 2017 and will run throughout the summer and the beginning of the school year. The deadline for submission is September 1st, 2017. The winners will be publicly announced and recognized at the O'Brien House Annual Breakfast on September 13th, 2017. The first place winner will be awarded $1000, second place will receive $300, and third place will receive $200. Rules for the contest and guidelines for submission can be found at www.obrienhouseessays.com. Judges of the essay contest are James...
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Justice Department Announces Program to Combat Opioid-Related Health Care Fraud

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a program aimed at combating opioid-related health care fraud, the Associated Press reports. Twelve federal prosecutors will be sent to cities hit hard by opioid addiction. They will analyze data to identify and prosecute individuals that are contributing to the prescription opioid epidemic, Sessions said. They will aim to find “pill mills” and track down physicians and pharmacies that illegally prescribe or distribute opioid painkillers. In a statement, Sessions said the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit “can tell us important information about prescription opioids—like which physicians are writing opioid prescriptions at a rate that far exceeds their peers; how many of a doctor’s patients died within 60 days of an opioid prescription; the average age of the patients receiving these prescriptions; pharmacies that are dispensing disproportionately large amounts of opioids; and regional hot spots for opioid issues.”
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Availability of Cheap Tobacco Undermining Efforts to Cut Smoking

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In a UK study, researchers at King’s College London and the University of Bath analyzed data from over 6,000 smokers to look at the price adults paid for tobacco between 2002 – 2014. The study compared buying tobacco from conventional outlets, such as grocery and convenience stores, with informal sellers, including friends and duty-free sources. The researchers found that, by switching brands, smokers could easily and legally obtain tobacco in convenience stores at the same prices they would have paid in 2002. The price range comparing the cheapest and most expensive tobacco almost doubled over the 12 years. The study argues that the widening gap between the cheapest and most expensive products is evidence that the tobacco industry is introducing a wider variety of brands to cater to smokers who want to buy cheaper. Therefore, despite regular tax increases between 2002 –2014, factory-made cigarettes only increased slightly in price. The...
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International Overdose Awareness Day Coming August 31st

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International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a global event held on August 31st each year and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. An overdose means having too much of a drug (or combination of drugs) for your body to be able to cope with. There are a number of signs and symptoms that show someone has overdosed, and these differ with the type of drug used. All drugs can cause an overdose, including prescription medication prescribed by a doctor. It is important to know your correct dosage, what drugs definitely should not be mixed, and know to seek help if you feel you are not in control of your drug use. Globally, there is an estimated minimum of 190,000 – in most cases avoidable – premature deaths from drugs, the majority attributable to the use of opioids. The United States accounts for...
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Rate of Fatally Injured Drivers Who Test Positive for Prescription Opioids Surges

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A new study finds the percentage of drivers involved in fatal car crashes who tested positive for prescription opioids rose seven-fold between 1995 and 2015. Researchers from Columbia University analyzed data from nearly 37,000 drivers who died within one hour of a motor vehicle crash. They found 24 percent had drugs in their system, of which 3 percent were prescription opioids, HealthDa y reports. Among drivers who tested positive for prescription opioids, 30 percent also had high blood alcohol levels, and 67 percent had traces of other drugs. The findings appear in the American Journal of Public Health . “Prescription opioids as potent pain medications can cause drowsiness and impair cognitive functions. The 700 percent rise in the prevalence of prescription opioids detected in fatally injured drivers is cause for great concern,” lead researcher Guohua Li, MD, DrPH, said in a statement.
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Study Suggests Need for Improved Access to Evidence-Based Pain Management

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More than one third of adults nationwide reported prescription opioid use in 2015, with substantial numbers reporting misuse and use disorders, according to a report compiled to estimate the prevalence of, and explore the motivations for, opioid use and misuse. The data showed that pain relief was most commonly cited as the reason for the misuse of opioids and that close to half of those who misused obtained them free from a family member or friend. According to the study, based on data collected from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, close to 92 million people (38 percent) used prescription opioids in the prior year. Of these, about 11.5 million misused the drugs, and 1.9 million had an opioid use disorder. Most people (63.4 percent) who misused these medications reported doing so to relieve physical pain. About 41 percent who misused opioids obtained them for free from...
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Opioid Epidemic Should be Declared National Emergency: Drug Commission

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President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis called on him this week to declare a national emergency to tackle the nation’s opioid epidemic. The Associated Press reports the commission recommended enforcing requirements that health plans provide the same level of services for those with physical health issues as those with mental health and substance use issues. The group also recommended equipping all law enforcement officers with the opioid overdose antidote naloxone; providing funds for federal agencies to develop sensors that can detect fentanyl; and increasing the use of medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction in prisons. The group called for requiring doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners in federally qualified health centers to get waivers to prescribe buprenorphine to treat addiction, and for achieving data sharing among state prescription drug monitoring programs by July 1, 2018.
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