Few Young People Treated for Opioid Addiction Get MAT

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Only 27 percent of youths treated for opioid addiction receive buprenorphine or naltrexone, known as medication-assisted treatment, a new study finds. “These medications are considered the evidence-based standard of care for opioid addiction by the American Academy of Pediatrics,” said lead researcher Dr. Scott Hadland of Boston University School of Medicine. Buprenorphine (sold as Suboxone) has been shown to reduce cravings, while naltrexone (sold as Revia and Vivitrol) blocks the high from opioids, HealthDay reports. The rate of opioid addiction among teens and young adults shot up almost sixfold between 2001 and 2014, the researchers note in JAMA Pediatrics . Hadland said one reason so few young people receive medication-assisted treatment is that too few pediatricians and family doctors are trained in how to treat opioid addiction. “In light of the national opioid crisis, it’s really now more important than ever to ensure that providers are receiving the training,” he...
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Drug Overdose Deaths Rose 19 Percent in 2016

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Drug overdose deaths increased 19 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to a preliminary analysis of data by The New York Times . Evidence suggests the problem, driven by opioid addiction, has continued to worsen this year. An influx of fentanyl and similar drugs is escalating the death count. Drug overdoses are currently the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50, the article notes. Large increases in drug overdose deaths were seen last year in Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine. In Ohio, overdose deaths rose by more than 25 percent. The New York Times came up with its estimate based on drug overdose statistics from state health departments, county medical examiners and coroners’ offices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will calculate final 2016 overdose totals in December.
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NIH Announces Partnerships With Drug Companies to Create New Addiction Treatments

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will partner with drug companies to spur research on new treatments for opioid addiction and pain medications that are not addictive, according to The Wall Street Journal . In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine , NIH Director Francis S. Collins and Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said the NIH will join with drug companies to launch an initiative in three scientific areas: developing better overdose-reversal and prevention interventions to reduce mortality, saving lives for future treatment and recovery; finding new, innovative medications and technologies to treat opioid addiction; and finding safe, effective, nonaddictive interventions to manage chronic pain. Collins and Volkow called for stronger versions of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone to counteract painkillers such as fentanyl and carfentanil, which are much more potent than heroin.
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Trump’s Budget Cuts Run Counter to His Promises to Battle Addiction

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Family members of young people who have struggled with or died from opioid addiction say President Trump’s budget proposal, which would reduce funding for addiction treatment, runs counter to his promises to help solve the problem, the Associated Press reports. The proposed budget would shrink spending for Medicaid, which covers an estimated three in 10 adults with opioid addiction. The budget is unlikely to be approved as written, the article notes. The Republican health care bill passed by the House would allow states to weaken a requirement that private insurance cover addiction treatment. The Congressional Budget Office estimates a patient’s cost of substance abuse treatment could increase by thousands of dollars a year in states that have chosen to reduce coverage requirements. “Inside I’m screaming,” Sandra Chavez of Sacramento, California, who lost her 24-year-old son, Jeffrey, to a blood infection related to his injection drug use, told the AP. “We’re...
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Patients Treated for Opioid Addiction in General Health System at Higher Risk of Death

Patients Treated for Opioid Addiction in General Health System at Higher Risk of Death
Patients treated for an opioid use disorder in a general healthcare system instead of an addiction treatment center face a higher risk of death, a new study concludes. Researchers at UCLA found patients treated for opioid addiction in primary care offices or hospitals are more than twice as likely to die than those treated in addiction treatment centers, according to HealthDay. “The high rates of death among patients with opioid use disorder in a general health care system reported in this study suggest we need strategies to improve detection and treatment of this disorder in primary care settings,” study lead author Yih-Ing Hser said in a UCLA news release. She noted that as opioid addiction has grown in the United States, people with opioid use disorders are increasingly being treated in primary care provider offices. The findings are published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine .
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Prescription Opioids Provided to Patients During Treatment For Opioid Addiction

Prescription Opioids Provided to Patients During Treatment For Opioid Addiction
More than two in five people receiving buprenorphine, a drug commonly used to treat opioid addiction, are also given prescriptions for other opioid painkillers - and two-thirds are prescribed opioids after their treatment is complete, a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study suggests. The findings, published in the journal Addiction , demonstrate the need for greater resources devoted to medication-assisted treatment, a common clinical tool to address the epidemic. The idea behind medication-assisted treatment is that patients are given low-dose opioids that produce some of the effects of opioids while staving off physical withdrawal symptoms. The low-dose opioids produce weaker effects than drugs such as oxycodone or heroin, which come with the risk of addiction and overdose. With medication-assisted treatment, rigorous studies have shown that patients are more able to remain healthy and productive members of society. An article in Medical News Today brought the stuidy to...
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Researchers Discover Gene Variant Linked With Opioid Addiction in African Americans

Researchers Discover Gene Variant Linked With Opioid Addiction in African Americans
The discovery of a gene variant associated with opioid addiction in African Americans may lead to personalized methadone treatment, according to HealthDay . The gene variant helped identify African Americans who might need higher doses of methadone. Patients receiving methadone treatment for opioid addiction vary widely in their dose requirements, the researchers note. Too high of a dose can cause sedation and dangerous breathing difficulties, while too low of a dose can lead to relapse. “Opioid addiction has become a national epidemic, and improving the effectiveness of medical therapies has to be a priority,” study lead author Andrew Smith of Yale University said in a news release. The same gene variant was also found to predict the morphine dose needed to achieve effective pain control in African American children undergoing surgery. The findings are published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry .
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Senate Passes Bill Providing $1 Billion for Prevention and Treatment of Opioid Addiction

Senate Passes Bill Providing $1 Billion for Prevention and Treatment of Opioid Addiction
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes $1 billion in new funding to prevent and treat opioid addiction. The House approved the measure last week. The legislation includes funding for cancer research and mental health treatment, and will help the Food and Drug Administration speed up drug approvals. The measure also aims to improve the use of technology in medicine. The legislation passed 94 to 5, according to The New York Times . President Obama issued a statement praising passage of the bill. He said, “The Cures Act makes important investments that will save lives.” The Act includes several items that impact the prevention and treatment of substance abuse disorders. It will: Establish a new account, the account for the state response to the opioid abuse crisis, with $500 million per year for FY2017 and FY2018; funds are to be distributed as part of...
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House Approves Bill Providing $1 Billion in New Funding to Curb Opioid Addiction

House Approves Bill Providing $1 Billion in New Funding to Curb Opioid Addiction
The U.S. House on Wednesday approved the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes $1 billion in new funding for the prevention and treatment of opioid addiction. The bill will now go to the Senate, where it is expected to pass by next week, USA Today reports. The White House, in a statement supporting passage of the measure, said, “The resources included in the bill will allow states to expand access to treatment to help individuals seeking help to find it and to start the road to recovery, with preference given to states with an incidence or prevalence of opioid use disorders that is substantially higher relative to other states.”
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Some People Ask Judges to Lock Them Up to Get Inpatient Opioid Addiction Treatment

Some People Ask Judges to Lock Them Up to Get Inpatient Opioid Addiction Treatment
Some people addicted to heroin are asking judges to lock them up so they can get access to treatment for opioid addiction, NPR reports. In Massachusetts, some people addicted to opioids are using a law designed for family members to commit loved ones to a locked facility if they are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others because of substance use. Thirty-eight states allow civil commitment for substance abuse, the article notes. About 8,000 people in Massachusetts will be committed to substance abuse treatment this year, up 40 percent from five years ago. In many cases, people are assigned to a privately run treatment center. If there is no room at private centers, some men are assigned to a program at the state prison. Women committed to mandatory treatment in civil proceedings in the state only go to privately run centers.
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