NCADD-SD News & Blog

News and Information from NCADD-SD and it national partner

Democrats Ask Drug Policy Office to Do More to Combat Opioid Epidemic

Democrats Ask Drug Policy Office to Do More to Combat Opioid Epidemic

Twenty Democratic senators are asking the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to do more to combat the opioid epidemic, according to the Associated Press.

In a letter to ONDCP Acting Director Richard Baum, the senators urged the Trump Administration to implement recommendations made by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

The senators criticized an administration budget proposal that would cut almost $400 million from drug and mental health programs. They also voiced opposition to the Department of Justice’s increasing insistence on treating drug addiction as a criminal justice issue.

The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, recently pushed back its deadline to release a report. It was the second such delay for the commission.

Senators who signed the letter included Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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NIH-Funded Mouse Study Sheds Light on Neural Risks Associated With Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

NIH-Funded Mouse Study Sheds Light on Neural Risks Associated With Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

Prenatal exposure to even low doses of alcohol may lead to severe and highly variable deficits in the brain of a fetus, according to a new study conducted in mice.

Researchers report that the unpredictable nature of the deficits may be due to inconsistencies in how fetal brain cells activate a protective response to alcohol and other harmful compounds.

The new findings may help explain the range of behavioral and learning deficits and other symptoms observed in individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and other congenital brain disorders. The study, supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, is now online in Nature Communications.

FASD is an umbrella term for a range of effects caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Individuals with FASD may experience growth retardation, facial abnormalities, and organ damage, including to the brain, which can result in a range of neurobiological deficits that contribute to physical, cognitive, behavioral, and social challenges throughout a person's life.

Brain cells use numerous mechanisms to protect against damage from alcohol and other environmental stressors. One mechanism involves the activation of Heat Shock Factor 1 (Hsf1), explained senior author Kazue Hashimoto-Torii, Ph.D., of Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

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SAMHSA Issues Report on Understanding Adolescent Inhalant Use

SAMHSA Issues Report on Understanding Adolescent Inhalant Use

A recent Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report found that:

In 2015, about 684,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 used inhalants in the past year.Adolescents were more likely than adults aged 18 or older to have used inhalants in the past year to get high (2.7 vs. 0.4 percent).Female adolescents were more likely than male adolescents to have used inhalants in the past month (3.2 vs. 2.3 percent).In 2015, more than half of adolescents who used inhalants in the past year (59.0 percent) had used 1 to 11 days in the past year; about 1 in 5 (19.3 percent) had used 12 to 49 days.

The report notes that the types of inhalants adolescents used to get high varied. Felt-tip pens/markers, or magic markers were the most commonly identified types of inhalants adolescents used to get high in 2015.

Inhalants are highly accessible, cheap, and easy to hide; they are also addictive and deadly. Inhalants are particularly appealing to adolescents for many reasons; they are legal, low cost, and easy to acquire.7 In addition, inhalants can give users a fast but short-term high, which makes it easy for adolescents to use inhalants and conceal their use.1,7 Using inhalants is also associated with many negative outcomes. Adolescents who engage in inhalant use are at an increased risk of delinquency, depression, suicidal thoughts, and drug and alcohol use.7 Inhalants also have the special risk of being deadly any time they are used—even the first time.

Although this report highlights that the majority (97.3 percent) of adolescents aged 12 to 17 have not used inhalants in the past year to get high, there were the 684,000 adolescents who did use inhalants in the past year to get high.

The results in the report underscore that adolescents of all race/ethnicities, across the country, and in rural and metropolitan settings are vulnerable to inhalant use. Therefore, continuing efforts are needed to educate adolescents, parents, teachers, physicians, service providers, and policymakers about the dangers and health risks of inhalant use.

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NDEWS Report Finds Shift in Patterns of Heroin Poisoning Death

NDEWS Report Finds Shift in Patterns of Heroin Poisoning Death

National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) recently issued a report titled “Geospatial Analysis of Drug Poisoning Deaths Involving Heroin in the USA, 2000–2014”.

The report found that the geographic pattern of poisoning deaths involving heroin has shifted from the west coast of the USA in the year 2000 to New England, the MidAtlantic region, and the Great Lakes and central Ohio Valley by 2014.

The evolution over space and time of clusters of drug poisoning deaths involving heroin is confirmed through the SaTScan analysis. For this period, White males were found to be the most impacted population group overall; however, Blacks and Hispanics are highly impacted in counties where significant populations of these two groups reside.

Their results show that while 35–54-year-olds were the most highly impacted age group by county from 2000 to 2010, by 2014, the trend had changed with an increasing number of counties experiencing higher death rates for individuals 25–34 years.

The percentage of counties across the USA classified as large metro with deaths involving heroin is estimated to have decreased from approximately 73% in 2010 to just fewer than 56% in 2014, with a shift to small metro and non-metro counties.

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Fort Worth’s Recovery Resource Council Turns 60

Fort Worth’s Recovery Resource Council Turns 60

The Fort Worth Recovery Resource Council recently celebrated its 69th anniversary.

The Recovery Resource Council began in 1957, but its roots date back to 1944, the year that the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism (now known as the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) was formed.

That year, the Council became an affiliate of NCADD and has since grown its presence as one of the leading recovery centers in North Texas. On average, the council services over 75,000 people each year.

Some of the Council’s major accomplishments include the Enduring Families program and Project New Start, as well as its youth programs like the Sunshine Club and Camp L4. Enduring Families provides counseling to servicemen and women with PTSD-related issues. To date, the Council has served more than 450 veterans and family members. Project New Start, a housing program for homeless or disabled men and women, is celebrating its 10th year.

The Recovery Resource Council also has programs for at-risk youth. The Sunshine Club, for example, has been around since 1986, helping elementary school children dealing with trauma. Camp L4, which stands for Live, Learn, Laugh and Love, takes children in shelters to Camp Carter for activities like horseback riding, arts and crafts, and life skills classes. According to the council, about 79 percent of those served by the organization are under age 18.

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Amount of Opioids Prescribed Declined from 2010-2015, But Remains High

Amount of Opioids Prescribed Declined from 2010-2015, But Remains High

There was an overall decline in the amount of opioids prescribed in the United States between 2010 and 2015, but the quantity of prescriptions is still extremely high, according to a new government report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the amount of opioids prescribed was three times higher in 2015 than in 1999, The New York Times reports.

The amount of opioids prescribed varies county by county, the CDC found.

Half of U.S. counties have seen a decrease in the amount of opioids prescribed from 2010 to 2015.

The highest prescribing counties still dispense six times more opioids than the lowest prescribing counties. Far more opioids are prescribed per capita in parts of Maine, Nevada and Tennessee than in most of Iowa, Minnesota and Texas.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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“Molly” Sold at Music Festivals Often Contains Other Drugs

“Molly” Sold at Music Festivals Often Contains Other Drugs

People who think they are buying “Molly” at music festivals often end up with pills or powder that contain other drugs, according to a new study.

Researchers studied data collected by the organization DanceSafe, which tested samples of pills or powder sold as Molly at music festivals in the United States between 2010 and 2015, The Washington Post reports.

They found Molly, or MDMA, was present in only 60 percent of the samples collected. The rest contained a mix of ingredients.

While most of the chemicals could not be identified, some samples contained methamphetamine. Several contained a potent form of the amphetamine PMA, which is more likely than many other drugs to be lethal with a single dose.

The findings are published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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A.G Says He Supports Bringing Back D.A.R.E. Anti-Drug Program

A.G Says He Supports Bringing Back D.A.R.E. Anti-Drug Program

Attorney General Jeff Sessions voiced support this week for bringing back the anti-drug program D.A.R.E.

The program has been criticized for not providing effective results, the New York Daily News reports.

“D.A.R.E. is, I think, as I indicated, the best remembered anti-drug program today,” Sessions said at a training conference in Texas. “In recent years, people have not paid much attention to that message, but they are ready to hear it again.” He added, “We know it worked before and we can make it work again.”

In 2003, the Government Accountability Office issued a report that looked at six long-term evaluations of the D.A.R.E. elementary school curriculum and found “all of the evaluations suggested that D.A.R.E. had no statistically significant long-term effect on preventing youth illicit drug use.”

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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NIH Findings Link Aldosterone with Alcohol Use Disorder

NIH Findings Link Aldosterone with Alcohol Use Disorder

A new study led by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, demonstrates that aldosterone, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, may contribute to alcohol use disorder (AUD).

The novel research, conducted in collaboration with a team of investigators in the United States and Europe, appears in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Aldosterone helps regulate electrolyte and fluid balance by binding to mineralocorticoid receptors (MRs), which are located throughout the body. In the brain, MRs are mainly located in the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex -- two key brain areas involved in the development and maintenance of AUD. In AUD, amygdala dysfunction heightens activation of brain stress systems resulting in anxiety and other negative emotions, while disruption of the prefrontal cortex impairs executive control systems involved in the ability to make decisions and regulate one's actions, emotions, and impulses.

"Previous studies, including a pilot clinical study that we published in 2008, illustrate the possible role for aldosterone in AUD," said senior author Lorenzo Leggio, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Section on Clinical Psychoneuroendocrinology and Neuropsychopharmacology, a NIAAA intramural laboratory jointly funded with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, also part of NIH. "Our overall hypothesis has been that aldosterone may play a role in AUD via its MR receptor and that this neuroendocrine pathway may be particularly important in anxiety, stress and stress-induced alcohol drinking."

The new report describes three separate studies, conducted with non-human primates, rats, and humans, that investigated the potential contribution of the aldosterone/MR pathway to AUD.

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CDC Awards $12 Million to Help States Fight Opioid Overdose Epidemic

CDC Awards $12 Million to Help States Fight Opioid Overdose Epidemic

Support will strengthen state efforts to prevent and track opioid overdoses

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be awarding more than $12 million to 23 states and the District of Columbia to support their responses to the opioid overdose epidemic.

The funds will be used to strengthen prevention efforts and better track of opioid-related overdoses. CDC expects to announce additional funding awards for state opioid overdose prevention programs later in the summer.

Increased funding for opioids in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill is allowing CDC to support all states that have applied for funding through the Enhanced State Surveillance of Opioid-Involved Morbidity and Mortality and Mortality (ESOOS) program and the Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States (PfS) program.

Under the ESOOS program, $7.5 million will go to 20 additional states and the District of Columbia to better track and prevent opioid-involved nonfatal and fatal overdoses. This cooperative agreement already provides funds to 12 states to develop and adapt surveillance systems to address the rising rate of overdoses attributable to opioids, including a specific focus on heroin and synthetic opioids such as illicitly manufactured fentanyl.

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Suffolk County: Highest Rate of Overdose Deaths in New York State

Suffolk County: Highest Rate of Overdose Deaths in New York State

Opioid misuse and overdose deaths in the United States have been rising for two decades. Between 2000 and 2013, the opioid overdose rate—among all ages, races, genders, and ethnicities—nearly quadrupled, increasing from 0.7 to 2.7 deaths per 100,000 individuals. Drug overdose is now the single greatest cause of unintentional deaths in America.

Suffolk County, in downstate New York, has been hit particularly hard. With 337 heroin-related deaths between 2009 and 2013, Suffolk County reported more such deaths than any other county in New York State. And in 2014, the age-adjusted opioid-related death rate in Suffolk County was 12.6 per 100,000, compared to the New York State average of 7.2 per 100,000. This article explores why Suffolk County residents are at greater risk for overdose deaths and, more important, how they are now protecting themselves.

The Community

Suffolk County occupies the easternmost two-thirds of Long Island. Its population size of 1.5 million is larger than that of several individual states (Vermont, Rhode Island, Delaware, North & South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska). Compared to the rest of New York State, Suffolk County residents are generally more prosperous (inflation-adjusted median annual household income $85,886 in 2014; third highest of New York’s 62 counties) and less diverse. The income gap between the county’s upper and lower socioeconomic classes is smaller than the state average. In 2015, 68.6 percent of Suffolk County identified as “non-Hispanic white,” compared to 56.0 percent for New York State.

Suffolk and Opioids

The high percentage of Caucasians in Suffolk County may help to explain that county’s high rate of opioid deaths. The following graph of national statistics from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publication shows that, between 2000 and 2013, the most dramatic jump in heroin-related overdoses was in non-Hispanic white persons aged 18 to 44. New York State statistics are similar—in 2014, the heroin-related mortality rate for all residents of New York State was 6.5 per 100,000, whereas the rate for only non-Hispanic whites was significantly higher (9 per 100,000).

“Drug-Poisoning Deaths Involving Heroin: United States, 2000-2013.” Holly Hedegaard, Li-Hui Chen, & Margaret Warner. NCHS Data Brief #190, March 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db190.htm

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Fort Worth Affiliate Holds “Stars in Recovery” Luncheon

Fort Worth Affiliate Holds “Stars in Recovery” Luncheon

The following article appeared in the Fort Worth Business. It is about the “Stars in Recovery” luncheon that the Recovery Resource Council, NCADD’s Fort Worth Affiliate, held on June 6, 2017 with Elizabeth Vargas as speaker. The luncheon drew 720 people and raised nearly $290,000.

I’m sure we’ve all fantasized about being at the top of our chosen profession, or maybe some other profession.

Even better, how about being at the top of your chosen profession and also blazing a trail for others.What we don’t expect to do when that happens is to reach that pinnacle of success and then – with no warning – to walk away. That takes some, as we say in Texas, el Grande cajones.

Well that’s what Elizabeth Vargas did. She was the anchor of World News Tonight on ABC, a highly decorated and respected reporter and broadcaster. She was at the top of her game, showing other women that they, too, could have it all – a profession, a family, respect, a social life and physical and emotional health. It was that last bit where she faltered a bit. Elizabeth Vargas was an alcoholic.

Vargas communicated her story to more than 700 attendees on Tuesday, June 6, at the Hilton Hotel. She was speaking at the 29th Annual Jim Bradshaw Memorial Stars in Recovery Luncheon benefiting the Recovery Resource Council.

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Fewer Teens Are Using E-Cigarettes and Other Types of Tobacco

Fewer Teens Are Using E-Cigarettes and Other Types of Tobacco

Fewer teens are using e-cigarettes and other types of tobacco, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The study found 11.3 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes in 2016, down from 16 percent the previous year, The Washington Post reports.

This represents the first decline in e-cigarette use since the CDC began keeping track in 2011.

Only 8 percent of high school students said they smoked cigarettes last year, and 20 percent said they used any tobacco product, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, pipes and smokeless tobacco. Those numbers are the lowest on record, the CDC reported.

“While these latest numbers are encouraging, it is critical that we work to ensure this downward trend continues over the long term across all tobacco products,” Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., said in a news release.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Most People Who Use Illicit Opioids Fear Fentanyl, But Say It’s Difficult to Avoid

Most People Who Use Illicit Opioids Fear Fentanyl, But Say It’s Difficult to Avoid

A study of people who use illicit opioids or misuse prescription opioids found 80 percent said they fear and dislike fentanyl, but it is difficult to avoid, HealthDay reports.

“I never found the idea that fentanyl was some sort of honeypot that people were scrambling to get hold of very compelling,” said study author Jennifer Carroll of Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School in Providence, R.I. “I hope we can begin chipping away at the narrative that the opioid crisis is driven by people chasing some sort of ultimate high. That’s an idea that has never matched reality.”

The study appears in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

A second study in the journal found the number of fentanyl-involved overdose deaths in Rhode Island rose to 138 in the first nine months of 2016, compared to 84 in all of 2014. Fentanyl was involved in 56 percent of the state’s drug deaths by 2016, compared to 35 percent in 2014.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Addiction Experts Warn Republican Health Care Plan Will Deepen Opioid Crisis

Addiction Experts Warn Republican Health Care Plan Will Deepen Opioid Crisis

The Republican health care plan, which would roll back the Affordable Care Act and reduce or terminate health coverage for millions of Americans, will deepen the nation’s opioid crisis, addiction experts tell the Los Angeles Times.

“It would essentially write off a generation,” said Dr. Shawn Ryan, President of BrightView Health, a network of drug treatment clinics in Cincinnati. “It would be catastrophic.”

The House health care plan passed in April cut more than $800 billion in federal aid to state Medicaid programs, which cover many Americans with substance use disorders. The Senate plan also includes major Medicaid cutbacks, the article notes.

The White House budget calls for an additional $600 billion in Medicaid cuts over the next decade.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Few Young People Treated for Opioid Addiction Get MAT

Few Young People Treated for Opioid Addiction Get MAT

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 said.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Aetna Embraces Medication to Combat Opioid Crisis

Aetna Embraces Medication to Combat Opioid Crisis

Aetna is going all in on medication-assisted treatment in response to the opioid epidemic, according to a letter CEO Mark Bertolini is sending today to a handful of Democratic senators.

Bertolini highlights three goals the insurer hopes to achieve by 2022:

Reduce inappropriate opioid prescriptions by 50%.Increase by 50% the number of opioid addicts treated with medication-assisted treatment and other evidence-based treatments.Increase the number of enrollees with chronic pain who use alternative pain treatments by 50%.

Go deeper: Aetna's embrace of medication-assisted treatment is a sharp contrast from some insurers' previous reluctance to cover the approach, which Bob Herman covered for Modern Healthcare. It also follows Tom Price's controversial comment saying medication-assisted treatment is "substituting one opioid for another."But Aetna has already worked to make medication more available: Earlier this year, it removed all pre-authorization requirements for certain products and put them on a preventive medicine list that reduces cost-sharing for patients.

Source: American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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ERs Do Not Usually Ask Young People About Alcohol Consumption

ERs Do Not Usually Ask Young People About Alcohol Consumption

A study published in Emergency Medical Journal has found that nine out of ten ERs are failing to identify young people with alcohol problems, preventing them from getting the vital help they need.

A survey of 147 ERs, conducted by researchers from the University of Surrey, found that young people are not routinely asked about their alcohol consumption, a useful tool in detecting alcohol problems. The research also found that those over the age of 65 are not routinely asked about their drinking either.

The survey found that over 85 per cent of A&E departments do not routinely ask young people about their alcohol consumption or use formal screening tools to identify those that may need help or advice about their drinking.

This is in violation of current guidelines, which suggest that screening followed by feedback of the results is the most effective way to reduce alcohol related harm.

Although young people are drinking less than previous generations, this age group still accounts for the largest number of alcohol-related A&E admissions.

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Attorney General Asks Congress to Roll Back Federal Medical Marijuana Protections

Attorney General Asks Congress to Roll Back Federal Medical Marijuana Protections

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asked congressional leaders to roll back federal protections for medical marijuana.

In a letter, Sessions asked the leaders to undo protections that prohibit the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent certain states from implementing their own laws that “authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.” The protections have been in place since 2014, The Washington Post reports.

Sessions wrote, “I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the [Justice] Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.

The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.”

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Fentanyl Sales Fueled by the Dark Web

Fentanyl Sales Fueled by the Dark Web

The opioid crisis is being fueled by anonymous online sales on the dark web, where buyers purchase fentanyl and other drugs using special browsers and virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, The New York Times reports.

Law enforcement officials say Internet sales of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl are on the rise.

They are frustrated in their attempts to crack down on these sales because of their anonymous nature. Enough fentanyl to get almost 50,000 people high can fit into a standard first-class envelope, the article notes.

A leading dark web site, AlphaBay, last week had more than 21,000 listings for opioids and more than 4,100 for fentanyl and similar drugs. The number of fentanyl listings on AlphaBay and other dark web sites has been steadily increasing.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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