Why is America Addicted to Opioid Pain Relievers?

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Opioid medications, sometimes known as pain relievers, are the most widely prescribed class of drugs worldwide. While the United States represents about five percent of the world’s population, it consumes 80 percent of the global opioid supply. Not surprisingly, the U.S. is also suffering from the most severe opioid addiction and overdose crisis it has ever experienced. But, this didn’t happen overnight. Several factors contributed to the unprecedented use – and misuse – of opioids in this country. A Dramatic Increase In The Supply Of Prescription Pain Relievers In 1998, state medical boards changed the laws governing opioid prescriptions. Instead of limiting the use of opioids to treat severe cancer-related pain – which had consistently been the case before – they began allowing the prescription of opioids to treat moderate, non-cancer pain. This meant that people with back injuries, broken bones, toothaches and other ailments could now receive powerful opioids, dramatically...
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Alcohol: America’s #1 Addiction Problem

Alcoholism
More than two million Americans are addicted to opioids, ranging from the illegal drugs heroin and fentanyl to the prescription medications OxyContin and Vicodin, yet eight times as many people misuse or are addicted to a substance that is more widely available and easier to access. This substance is alcohol. Despite the fact that it has largely retreated from public consciousness in the context of the current opioid epidemic, research shows that rates of alcohol misuse and addiction are on the rise. The Rates Continue To Climb Recent reports indicate that nearly 16 million people ages 12 and older have an alcohol use disorder (AUD), better known as alcohol addiction. This represents an almost 50 percent increase from figures reported just 10 years prior. Additionally, the number of people who engage in high-risk drinking (more than five drinks at a given time for men, four for women) increased by nearly 30...
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Millennials and Baby Boomers Hardest Hit by Opioid Epidemic

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Millennials and Baby Boomers appear to be the age groups hardest hit by the opioid crisis, doctors at Columbia University conclude. Millennials (people in their 20s and 30s) have higher death rates from heroin than other age groups, while Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) have higher rates of death from both prescription opioids and heroin, the researchers report in the American Journal of Public Health . The study found Baby Boomers were up to 27 percent more likely to die of a prescription opioid overdose, compared with people born in the late 1970s, HealthDay reports. They were up to one-third more likely to die of a heroin overdose. Millennials were 23 percent more likely to die of a heroin overdose compared with those born in the late 1970s.
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Understanding the Difference between Physical Dependence and Addiction

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In a recent hearing before Congress, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb spoke about the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic and what his agency is doing to address it. While Dr. Gottlieb is not the first to note the massive scale of this crisis, he did bring up one often-overlooked component of its much-needed solution – distinguishing between an opioid addiction and a physical dependence on opioids. Although frequently conflated, differentiating between these two conditions is essential to break the stigma associated with what has proven to be the most effective form of opioid addiction treatment: medication-assisted treatment (MAT) – a treatment approach that combines the use of medications such as methadone and buprenorphine with behavioral counseling. To make progress in ending the opioid epidemic and help people with addiction, families, health professionals and policymakers must understand and appreciate the important difference between physical dependence and addiction,...
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Over 1.6 Million Could Die From Drugs, Alcohol and Suicide Over Next Decade: Report

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More than 1.6 million Americans could die from drugs, alcohol and suicide over the next decade, a new report concludes. USA Today reports the findings come from the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust. The nonprofit group found in 2015, there were 39.7 deaths per 100,000 U.S. residents due to drugs, alcohol and suicide, compared with 23.1 deaths per 100,000 in 1999—a 72 percent increase. That number could rise to 56 deaths per 100,000 by 2025, the group said. “We see a connection among the three epidemics,” said John Auerbach, President and CEO of the Trust for America’s Health. “They are all behavioral health-related — that is, they have a substance abuse or mental health diagnosis associated with them.”
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Are Teens with Opioid Addiction Getting the Treatment They Need?

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Today’s opioid crisis knows no boundaries, especially when it comes to age. The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that “prescription and over the counter drugs [including prescription opioids] are among the most commonly abused drugs by 12th graders, after alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco.” Over the past 15 years, the number of children and teens hospitalized due to opioid poisoning has nearly doubled and it has been widely cited that most adults in treatment for opioid addiction started using illicit substances before the age of 18. These statistics make it clear that there is a need to effectively identify and treat addiction to opioids among young people in order to prevent the consequences of this disease from following them into adulthood, or worse — cutting their lives short. Unfortunately, young people are not receiving the opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment path most strongly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics: medication-assisted...
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Kellyanne Conway Will Oversee White House Response to Opioid Epidemic

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White House counselor Kellyanne Conway will lead the White House response to the opioid epidemic, U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions announced. Sessions said Conway will be charged with helping change the perception about opioids and reducing addictions and deaths, Newsweek reports. Conway, a lawyer, has no formal experience in drug policy or law enforcement, the article notes. Before working for the Trump Administration, she had her own polling company. Conway has promoted prevention programs as a way to combat drug use. In October, Conway told Fox News, “The best way to stop people from dying from overdoses and drug abuse is by not starting in the first place. That’s a big core message for our youth.”
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60 Percent of People Who Die From Opioid Overdose Suffer Chronic Pain

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A study of people who die from opioid overdoses found just over 60 percent suffer from chronic pain, HealthDay reports. Many also struggle with anxiety or depression, the researchers report in the American Journal of Psychiatry . The study included medical records of more than 13,000 adults who died from an opioid overdose between 2001 and 2007. “The frequent occurrence of treated chronic pain and mental health conditions among overdose decedents underscores the importance of offering substance use treatment services in clinics that treat patients with chronic pain and mental health problems,” said lead investigator Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University Medical Center.
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Significant Inequalities Between Mental and Physical Health Payments Uncovered

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Medical and surgical healthcare providers are receiving significantly higher payments from insurers than addiction and mental health practitioners for the same types of services, finds a groundbreaking, independent report published by Milliman, Inc. and released by a coalition of America’s leading mental health and addiction advocacy organizations including the Legal Action Center. In the Milliman report, commissioned by the Bowman Family Foundation, researchers found that along with payment disparities, which occur in 46 out of 50 states, “out-of-network” use of addiction and mental health treatment providers by consumers is extremely high when compared to medical and surgical providers. This perfect storm of factors reveals that patients are being forced into more costly out-of-network care, and can mean that treatment is abandoned altogether. When taken together, the analysis paints a stark picture of restricted access to affordable and much-needed addiction and mental health care in an era of escalating suicide rates and...
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SAVE THE DATE: Join us December 14 for a Twitter Chat about Women and Alcohol

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Why are drinking guidelines different for women than men? How do the health effects of heavy drinking differ? Where can women turn for help if they have an alcohol problem? The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) are partnering for a Twitter Chat on women and alcohol. Bring your questions for NCADD and NIAAA experts as we discuss what women need to know about alcohol and their health. Date : Thursday, December, 14, 1:00-2:00 pm ET Hashtag : #FAQWomenDrinking NCADD Expert : Julie Dostal, PhD, Executive Director, LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addictions, Oneonta, NY and NCADD Board Member NIAAA Expert : Deidra Roach, MD, NIAAA Medical Project Officer
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