Study Highlights Unmet Treatment Needs Among Adults With Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

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Despite current treatment guidelines, fewer than 10 percent of adults with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders receive treatment for both disorders, and more than 50 percent do not receive treatment for either disorder. The findings highlight a large gap between the prevalence of co-occurring disorders and treatment rates among U.S. adults and the need to identify effective approaches to increasing treatment for those with these conditions. An analysis of data from U.S. adults with both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder indicates that only 9.1 percent of those adults received both types of care over the past year, and 52.5 percent received neither mental health care nor substance use treatment. The study, based on data collected from the 2008-2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, reports that 3.3 percent of the adult U.S. population, or some 7.7 million individuals, suffers from both a mental...
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FDA Approves Marketing of First Mobile App to Help Treat Substance Use Disorders

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has permitted marketing of the first mobile app to help treat substance use disorders (SUD). The app is designed to be prescribed by a doctor and used along with counseling, CNBC reports. The Reset device delivers cognitive behavioral therapy to patients to teach skills that aid in the treatment of substance use disorders, the company says. These skills are “intended to increase abstinence from substance abuse and increase retention in outpatient therapy programs,” according to a news release from the FDA. The agency said the Reset device is indicated as a prescription-only adjunct treatment for patients with SUD who are not currently on opioid replacement therapy, who do not abuse alcohol solely, or whose primary substance of abuse is not opioids.
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Increasing Availability of Medication-Assisted Treatment Using Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine
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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Family Physicians Have a Better Chance Treating Substance Use Disorders

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AMA Source recently published an article noting that patients with substance use disorders may experience stigma that can interfere with treatment options. But when substance use disorders are recognized and treated as a chronic disease, that stigma can be reduced. The article goes on to note that treating patients with substance use disorders in a family medicine setting can be a unique situation because physicians are often treating other members of the patient’s family as well. At first, patients may be reluctant to discuss substance use but once the condition is out in the open, having the family involved can be beneficial. And since many primary care physicians (especially those in family medicine) know many of their patients very well and have established a long-term relationship. That can be advantageous when a patient begins to show signs of a substance use disorder. Once the physician and patient have had a...
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New Recommendations to Prevent and Treat Substance Use Disorders Issued

New Recommendations to Prevent and Treat Substance Use Disorders Issued
A comprehensive set of public policy recommendations for the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders were recently issued by the American College of Physicians (ACP). The findings were published in Annals of Internal Medicine . Drug overdose deaths, particularly from opioids such as prescription pain relievers and heroin, is a rising epidemic. ACP says that substance use disorders are treatable chronic medical conditions, like diabetes and hypertension, that should be addressed through expansion of evidence-based public and individual health initiatives to prevent, treat, and promote recovery. However, access to care for substance use disorders is limited. In 2014, 22.5 million people in the U.S. needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem but only 18 percent received any treatment, far below treatment receipt rates for those with hypertension (77 percent), diabetes (73 percent), or major depression (71 percent). According to  Medical News Today , in order to...
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Doctors’ Group Says Substance Use Disorders are Chronic Medical Conditions

Doctors’ Group Says Substance Use Disorders are Chronic Medical Conditions
The American College of Physicians (ACP) says substance use disorders are chronic medical conditions. The group called for greater access to care for people struggling with drug addiction. In a position paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the group stated substance use disorders need ongoing treatment, and are not a “moral disorder or character defect.” ACP says it wants to see tighter controls for opioid prescriptions, more training for doctors to deal with substance abuse, and more options for mental health treatment, ABC News reports. “Drug overdose deaths, particularly from opioids such as prescription pain relievers and heroin, is a rising epidemic,” ACP President Nitin S. Damle, MD, said in a news release. “Substance use disorders are treatable chronic medical conditions, like diabetes and hypertension, that should be addressed through expansion of evidence-based public and individual health initiatives to prevent, treat, and promote recovery.”
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Substance Abuse Can Cost You That Beautiful Smile of Yours

Substance Abuse Can Cost You That Beautiful Smile of Yours
People who abuse substances are at a greater risk of developing tooth decay and periodontal disease than people with no substance use disorders, a study has found. The findings, led by Hooman Baghaie from the University of Queensland in Australia, showed that drug use affects oral health through direct physiological routes such as dry mouth, an increased urge for snacking, clenching and grinding of teeth and chemical erosion from applying cocaine to teeth and gums. The lifestyle that often accompanies problematic drug use also affects oral health through high sugar diets, malnutrition, poor oral hygiene, and lack of regular professional dental care. Patients with substance use disorders exhibited greater tooth loss, non-carious tooth loss and destructive periodontal disease. In addition, tolerance to pain killers and anaesthetics also contributes to poor dental care, the researchers said, in the paper published in the journal Addiction . Oral health has significant consequences on...
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More Americans with Substance Use Disorders, Mental Illness Got Insurance Under ACA

More Americans with Substance Use Disorders, Mental Illness Got Insurance Under ACA
More people with substance use disorders and mental illness had insurance coverage in 2014 because of the expansion of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a new study finds. Many barriers to treatment remain, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study found there were no significant increases in use of services to treat substance use disorders or mental illness, HealthDay reports. “We got more people covered, but we didn’t make dramatic progress in closing the under-treatment gap,” lead researcher Brendan Saloner said in a news release. “We need to find ways to take the next step and ensure people are seeing the providers who can help them.” The study included data from almost 30,000 adults with mental illness and more than 19,000 with substance use disorders. The researchers compared insurance coverage for two periods: 2011-2013, before the ACA was implemented, and...
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Surgeon General Issues Landmark Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health

Surgeon General Issues Landmark Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health
A new Surgeon General’s report finds alcohol and drug misuse and severe substance use disorders, commonly called addiction, to be one of America’s most pressing public health concerns. Nearly 21 million Americans – more than the number of people who have all cancers combined – suffer from substance use disorders. The report, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, marks the first time a U.S. Surgeon General has dedicated a report to substance misuse and related disorders. The report addresses alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drug misuse, with chapters dedicated to neurobiology, prevention, treatment, recovery, health systems integration and recommendations for the future. It provides an in-depth look at the science of substance use disorders and addiction, calls for a cultural shift in the way Americans talk about the issue, and recommends actions we can take to prevent and treat these conditions, and promote...
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