U.S. Efforts to Eliminate Cocaine in Colombia a Bad Return on Investment

U.S. Efforts to Eliminate Cocaine in Colombia a Bad Return on Investment
Two anti-cocaine efforts in Colombia, funded by American taxpayers, were not cost-effective, according to an analysis by two economists. The interventions “are inefficient and socially costly ways of reducing drug consumption,” they conclude. Between 2000 and 2008, the United States spent $4.3 billion on efforts to eradicate cocaine in Colombia, The Washington Post reports. According to economists from MIT and Colombia’s Universidad de los Andes, it cost the U.S. government $940,000 to eliminate a single kilogram of cocaine from the domestic market through herbicide spraying in Colombia. Eliminating a single kilogram through interdiction efforts to block cocaine transit routes and seize shipments of cocaine cost $175,000. The report considered the tactics that coca growers and drug traffickers use to respond to enforcement efforts, such as increasing production and changing trade routes, the article notes. The findings are published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization . Reducing cocaine consumption...
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Senators: Allow Doctors to Treat 500 Patients at a Time With Buprenorphine

Senators: Allow Doctors to Treat 500 Patients at a Time With Buprenorphine
A group of senators is urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to raise the number of patients a doctor can treat with the opioid addiction medication buprenorphine to 500, The Huffington Post reports. Currently, federal regulations limit the number of patients a doctor can treat with buprenorphine to 30 in the first year they are certified to prescribe the drug, and 100 in subsequent years. Earlier this year, HHS proposed changing the rules to allow certified doctors to treat as many as 200 patients at a time in their third year of prescribing, the article notes. Recently, a group of 22 senators sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, saying they believe the new regulation does not go far enough. “The current 100 patient cap is one of several factors that have created a huge disparity between those who can prescribe opioids for treatment of pain...
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In Fight Against Opioid Addiction, Congress Focuses on Treatment, Not Restricting Access

In Fight Against Opioid Addiction, Congress Focuses on Treatment, Not Restricting Access
Congress is focusing on expanding treatment for opioid addiction instead of restricting access to painkillers in its efforts to address the opioid epidemic, The New York Times reports. Legislators seem to be willing to allow opioid prescriptions to remain widely accessible, the article notes. The U.S. House, after overwhelmingly approving 18 bills last week aimed at addressing the nation’s opioid crisis, will work with the Senate to craft compromise legislation. The bills would increase prescription drug monitoring and treatment; fund efforts to dispose of prescription drugs; and assist states that want to expand the availability of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. The Senate bill would expand the availability of medication-assisted treatment, including in criminal justice settings, and would support treatment as an alternative to incarceration. Last month, Congress passed a measure, signed by President Obama, that limited the powers of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to go after pharmacies and...
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Program Connects People to Treatment After They Survive Opioid Overdose

Program Connects People to Treatment After They Survive Opioid Overdose
A New Jersey program immediately connects people to treatment after they have been revived from an opioid overdose with naloxone. Recovery specialists are contacted by hospitals participating in the program once an opioid overdose call has been dispatched. The Opioid Overdose Recovery Program is run by Barnabas Health in two New Jersey counties with high opioid overdose death rates, CBS News reports. The program works with law enforcement and healthcare providers, including five hospitals. Grant funding is provided by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Since the program began three months ago, there have been 135 overdoses in Ocean and Monmouth counties, of which 30 were fatal. According to the Ocean County Prosecutors Office, about half of those revived with naloxone have agreed to go into treatment this year. Previously, almost no one who was revived with naloxone agreed to go into...
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House Approves Improving Treatment for Pregnant/Postpartum Women Act

House Approves Improving Treatment for Pregnant/Postpartum Women Act
On May 11th, the full House of Representatives considered and passed H.R. 3691, the Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act. The bill was authored by Rep. Luján (D-NM). Original co-sponsors include Reps. Tonko (D-NY), Matsui (D-CA) and Cardenas (D-CA). Other co-sponsors included Reps. Pascrell (D-NJ), Ryan (D-OH), Schakowsky (D-IL), Kennedy (D-MA), Payne (D-NJ), Young (R-AK), Noem (R-SD), Turner (R-OH), Norton (D-DC), Slaughter (D-NY) and others. Reauthorization of the “PPW” Program: The Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act would reauthorize the residential services for pregnant and postpartum women grant program (PPW) within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). This important program supports family-centered substance use disorder services – including services for opioid use disorders – for women along with services for their young children in residential settings. Creation of Pilot Program for State Substance Abuse Agencies: The bill...
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Shortage of Addiction Treatment Personnel Intensifies as Opioid Crisis Worsens

Shortage of Addiction Treatment Personnel Intensifies as Opioid Crisis Worsens
Addiction treatment centers are struggling to find enough qualified personnel as the opioid crisis worsens, The Wall Street Journal reports. Retention of addiction treatment workers has long been an issue because of low pay, high burnout rate and the stigma attached to addiction, the article notes. Many counselors move on to other fields after several years. There are many reasons the demand for addiction treatment workers—including psychiatrists, licensed counselors and house aides—is increasing. The number of patients addicted to heroin and prescription painkillers is on the rise. The Affordable Care Act requires private insurance companies and Medicaid to cover substance use disorders, and states that have expanded Medicaid under the law have made coverage available to many new patients. In addition, a growing number of localities are steering drug offenders to treatment instead of prison. “Our biggest problem right now is a lack of workforce,” said Becky Vaughn, Vice President...
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DEA Approves Study on Effectiveness of Marijuana as PTSD Treatment

DEA Approves Study on Effectiveness of Marijuana as PTSD Treatment
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has given approval for a study that will evaluate the effectiveness of marijuana as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to The Denver Post . Researchers plan to enroll 76 veterans at clinics in Phoenix and Baltimore. They will study how well smoking different strains and potencies of marijuana treats PTSD. The marijuana will be supplied by the federal government’s marijuana farm at the University of Mississippi. Military Times reports it will be the first randomized, controlled research in the United States for PTSD that will use the actual marijuana plant instead of oils or synthesized cannabis. Some veterans say marijuana eases their PTSD symptoms and has allowed them to stop using prescription medications, but little scientific research supports these claims, the article notes. “This is a critical step in moving our botanical drug development program forward at the federal level to gather...
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Health Experts Ask for Changes to Pain Treatment Guidelines to Reduce Opioid Use

Health Experts Ask for Changes to Pain Treatment Guidelines to Reduce Opioid Use
A group of state health officials, doctors and consumer advocates is asking the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for changes to pain treatment guidelines to reduce the use of opioid painkillers. The group also has asked the body that accredits hospitals and clinics, the Joint Commission, to re-examine the pain management guidelines it requires institutions to follow, The Wall Street Journal reports. In the letter to CMS, the group said current standards for treating pain are too aggressive and contribute to overuse of opioid painkillers. The letter urges CMS to stop asking patients about how well their pain was controlled in the hospital. CMS uses the answers in making judgments about hospital performance and to determine payment. “Medication is not the only way to manage pain and should not be over-emphasized,” the group wrote. “Setting unrealistic expectations for pain relief can lead to dissatisfaction with care even when...
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People Who Become Addicted to Drugs Later in Life More Likely to Relapse

People Who Become Addicted to Drugs Later in Life More Likely to Relapse
A new study finds people who become addicted to drugs later in life are more likely to relapse during treatment, compared with those whose addictions started earlier. For every year increase in the age of starting to abuse opioids, there is a 10 percent increase in relapse, according to Science Daily . The study of people being treated with methadone for their opioid use disorder found those who injected drugs were more than twice as likely to relapse by using opioids while on treatment, compared with those who did not inject drugs. Use of benzodiazepines also increased the risk of relapse, the study found. For every day of benzodiazepine use in the previous month, the researchers found a 7 percent increase in relapse. The older the patient is when in treatment, the less likely they are to relapse, the researchers report in Substance Abuse Research and Treatment . The study...
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Report Shares Effective Strategies for Use of Medication-Assisted Treatment in Drug Courts

Report Shares Effective Strategies for Use of Medication-Assisted Treatment in Drug Courts
The Legal Action Center has released a groundbreaking report, Medication-Assisted Treatment in Drug Courts: Recommended Strategies. Produced with the Center for Court Innovation and New York State Unified Court System, the report features three in-depth profiles of drug courts with effective MAT programs. Sections such as “Nine Components of Successful MAT Programs” and “Specific Issues for Rural Courts” reflect lessons from 10 courts in urban, rural, and suburban areas. The report shares insights from prosecutors, judges, and other treatment team members to help courts across the country successfully incorporate evidence-based treatment for opioid addiction. The authors provide nuts-and-bolts strategies for addressing common concerns, such as: “How does the court monitor compliance and illicit use of MAT medication?” “How long do participants stay on MAT?” “Who decides?” The report also provides the evidence behind MAT, including its effectiveness in reducing illicit opioid use and criminal behavior. The section on Nine Components...
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Facing Addiction and The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) are proud to announce the merger of our organizations – creating a national leader in turning the tide on the addiction epidemic.
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