People Who Live With Someone Taking Painkillers More Likely to Get Own Rx

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A new study finds that people who live with someone with a prescription for opioid painkillers are more likely to get their own prescription for opioids. The findings come from an analysis of 12.6 million people living in a household in which someone was prescribed opioids, and 6.4 million people in homes in which someone was prescribed nonprescription steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain. The study found 11.83 percent of people living with someone prescribed opioids and 11.11 percent of people living with a person prescribed NSAIDs started taking opioids over the next year, Reuters reports. While the increase in risk was small, lead study author Marissa Seamans of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore said it matters “because millions of opioids are prescribed and have harmful effects.” The study appears in JAMA Internal Medicine .
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FDA Sends Warning to Distributors of Snortable Chocolate Powder Called “Coco Loko”

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sent a warning letter to the marketers and distributors of a snortable chocolate powder called “Coco Loko,” for selling unapproved new drugs and misbranded drugs, HealthDay reports. The FDA sent a similar letter to the distributors of a drink called “Legal Lean Syrup.” The agency said the claims made in the promotional materials for both products demonstrate that they are intended to be used as alternatives to illicit street drugs, and the products, as labeled and marketed, may pose safety concerns. “As a physician and a parent, I’m deeply troubled by the unlawful marketing of these potentially dangerous products, especially since they are so easily accessible by minors,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in an agency news release. “Encouraging the use of snortable chocolate as an alternative to illegal street drugs is not acceptable — there are very real consequences to snorting any...
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Cashing in Gift Cards to Pay for Opioids Becoming More Common

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Law enforcement officials report an increase in cases of people are stealing items from major retailers, returning them for gift cards, and cashing in the cards to pay for opioids, CNBC reports. People steal items and return them to another store without a receipt, and receive a gift card in return. They sell the gift card to a pawn shop or secondary store at a discount. The cards are then resold to an online exchange. In Knox County, Tennessee, police found 16 of 19 drug overdoses were linked to the sale of gift cards during a one-month period this year. In the city of Knoxville, police linked almost 100 overdoses to gift cards during a three-month period.
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Monitoring the Future Survey Results Issued

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NIH’s 2017 Monitoring the Future survey shows both vaping and marijuana are more popular than traditional cigarettes or pain reliever misuse.  Almost one-third of high school seniors report using some kind of vaping device in the past year. Some teens use the devices for nicotine or marijuana, while others use them for flavoring. “We are especially concerned because the survey shows that some of the teens using these devices are first-time nicotine users,” Nora D. Volkow, MD, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in a news release. “Recent research suggests that some of them could move on to regular cigarette smoking, so it is critical that we intervene with evidence-based efforts to prevent youth from using these products.” Use of hookahs and regular cigarettes declined among high school seniors, the annual survey found. Marijuana use among high school seniors increased from 35.6 percent in 2016 to 37.1 percent...
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St. Louis Police Saving Fewer Lives with Heroin Antidote Amid Stronger Opiates

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The number of people that police in St. Louis have been able to save using the heroin overdose antidote naloxone, or Narcan, has declined by approximately 30 percent this year, compared to last year, according to the Associated Press . The St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office reported that nearly 90 percent of 121 overdose deaths through July of this year involved the drug fentanyl. Sometimes mixed with or sold as heroin, fentanyl is a powerful opiate that is considered stronger than heroin, making reversing an overdose from fentanyl more difficult. “The toxicity level of fentanyl is so potent, it might not be reversible,” said Spring Schmidt, director of health promotion and public health research for St. Louis County. “The potential for death is faster, and that impacts our ability to reverse an overdose.” Health officials noted that fentanyl overdoses may require more than one dose of Narcan to successfully revive...
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FDA Approves First Monthly Injection to Treat Opioid Addiction

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The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first ever buprenorphine injection for the treatment of moderate-to-severe opioid use disorder (OUD) in adult patients. The new injection is the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) option, Sublocade, which provides a new treatment option for patients in recovery from opioid addiction who may value the benefits of a once-monthly injection, compared to other forms of buprenorphine treatment. MAT is a comprehensive approach that combines approved medications (currently, methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone) with counseling and other behavioral therapies to help provide effective treatment and long-term recovery in patients with OUD. “Given the scale of the opioid crisis, with millions of Americans already affected, the FDA is committed to expanding access to treatments that can help people pursue lives of sobriety. Everyone who seeks treatment for opioid use disorder deserves the opportunity to be offered the treatment best suited to the needs of each individual patient, in...
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NCADD Affiliate Executive Director Featured in TEDx Event

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  In September of 2017, Oneonta, NY hosted its first TEDx event with the theme of "Tipping Point." Among the inaugural group of TEDx speakers was Julie Dostal, Executive Director of the Otsego County Affiliate in Oneonta and an NCADD Board Member. The title of her talk was "Expendable People" as a way to bring light to the real human impact of policy decisions related to addictive substances. Her hope was to "tip" the culture toward an understanding of the public health implications of economic strategies built on the likes of alcohol, marijuana, and gambling. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The...
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Criminal Justice System Could Play Key Role in Better Treatment for Opioid Addiction

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A new study published in the December issue of Health Affairs , found that just 5 percent of people referred for opioid addiction treatment by the U.S. criminal justice system receive the best treatment, according to HealthDay . In contrast, the study found that 40 percent of people referred for opioid addiction treatment by other sources – including health care providers, employers or themselves – were treated with medication. Medications such as methadone and buprenorphine are considered the most effective way to treat opioid addiction, said researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They help control withdrawal symptoms and cravings that can lead to relapse and they reduce the risk for overdose. The low rate of referrals for treatment medication among people in the criminal justice system highlights a missed opportunity to connect the people at the highest risk for opioid addiction with effective treatment, the researchers noted....
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Surgeons Try Prescribing Fewer Opioids to Combat Addiction Risks

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NPR reports that a group of surgeons at the University of Michigan has devised an approach that could lead to significant changes in how opioids are prescribed and help curb the nation’s opioid epidemic – prescribing fewer opioids after surgery. Their findings were published this week in the journal, JAMA Surgery . The group of surgeons suggests that to lower the risk of opioid addiction, surgeons should prescribe patients fewer painkillers after surgery — a critical time when many people are first introduced to what can be highly addictive opioid medications. They should also talk with patients about proper use of opioids and the associated addiction risks. The researchers identified 170 post-surgery patients and surveyed them within a year of their gallbladder operations, inquiring about how many pills they actually used. They employed the findings to create new hospital guidelines that cut back on the standard opioid prescription for gallbladder surgeries....
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Deaths During Opioid-Related Hospital Stays in U.S. Quadrupled

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A new study released earlier this week confirms that deaths in opioid-related hospital stays in the U.S. have quadrupled between 1993 and 2014, PBS NewsHour reports. Zirui Song, an assistant professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, launched the study in 2016 in an effort to gain a better understanding of the patients he treated. Dr. Song analyzed nearly 385,000 hospital stays involving patients who were admitted for opioid use with data from the National Inpatient Sample of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, a national database compiled by the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality. His research confirmed that by 2014, four times as many patients died from opioid-related causes while staying in the hospital, rising from 0.43 percent before 2000 to 2.02 percent. Over the same time period, the study also found that patients admitted to the hospital for opioid use...
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