NCADD News Service

Alcohol Use and Misuse Up Among Older Adults

Alcohol Use and Misuse Up Among Older Adults

Recent news reports in various media outlets have noted that across the country, alcohol use — and misuse — have gone up among USA older adults.

According to NewsWorks, the online home of WHYY, a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that between 2001 and 2012, increases in alcohol use, high-risk drinking, and alcohol use disorder among older adults were substantial, said the study's authors. So much so that they call the change "unprecedented."

According to George Koob of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), "Almost everybody over 65 is taking a lot of pills and a number of those pills can actually potentiate the action of alcohol." He also noted that the health risks for drinking among this age group are different than for younger people.

Taken together, the drugs have a stronger effect — and alcohol can interfere with other prescription drugs.

"For example," he said, "If you take alcohol with an opioid, like a painkiller, you can kill yourself at doses lower for both the pain killer and the alcohol."

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Opioid Overdoses Have Shaved 2.5 Months Off Americans’ Life Expectancy

Opioid Overdoses Have Shaved 2.5 Months Off Americans’ Life Expectancy

Opioid overdoses reduced Americans’ life expectancy by 2.5 months between 2000 and 2015, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During that period, U.S. life expectancy increased overall from almost 77 years to 79 years, as deaths from major killers such as cancer and heart disease decreased, HealthDay reports.

But during that period, the death rate from drug overdoses more than doubled, and the death rate from opioid overdoses—including heroin and prescription opioids—more than tripled.

By the final year of the study, Americans’ average life expectancy began to decrease again.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Opioid Crisis Fast Facts

Opioid Crisis Fast Facts

The United States is in the midst of an opioid crisis, the impact surpassing annual car crashes, and the AIDs epidemic in the 1990s.

Over two million people in the U.S. have become dependent on or abused prescription pain pills and/or an illicit drug.

At the onset, many users become addicted after a legitimate injury or surgery requires them to take prescription painkillers. Legal painkillers like morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone are prescribed by doctors for acute or chronic pain.

However, drug overdoses are on the rise, with 52,000 overdose deaths in 2015. In the same year, the International Narcotics Control Board reported that Americans represented about 99.7 percent of the world's hydrocodone consumption. Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Teens Who Try K2 May be Using the Drug Regularly

Teens Who Try K2 May be Using the Drug Regularly

Three percent of high school seniors say they use the synthetic drug known as “K2” or “Spice,” a new study finds.

Almost half of the teens who report K2 use say they have used it more than three times in the past month, UPI reports.

K2 or Spice are also known as synthetic cannabinoids (SCs). “This finding is important because it implies that half of current users are using SCs more than once or twice, which may suggest more than just mere experimentation,” lead researcher Joseph Palamar of NYU Langone Medical Center said in a news release. “In fact, 20 percent of current users reported use on 20 to 30 days in the past month, suggesting daily or almost-daily use.”

The study, published in Pediatrics, found eight out of 10 teens who reported current K2 use also said they use marijuana. Synthetic cannabinoids have been found to have a potency ranging from two to 100 times stronger than marijuana, the researchers said.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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President Asked to Formally Declare Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency

President Asked to Formally Declare Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency

Ten Democratic senators sent President Trump a letter asking him to formally declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, USA Today reports.

Trump announced in August he was declaring a national emergency, but he has not yet taken formal steps to do so. If he does officially declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, then FEMA can make money available to states.

States could also request aid, and public health workers could be redeployed to fight the epidemic.

“Regardless of whether you choose to declare a state of emergency, continued inaction on this issue is deeply concerning,” the senators wrote. “In order to effectively treat this crisis with the urgency it demands, we believe you must take action immediately to expand treatment capacity, increase prevention efforts (including prescriber education initiatives), improve data sharing, and support detection and interdiction efforts to address the supply side of this epidemic – all recommendations for action proposed by the Commission you created.”

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Suicide Attempts by Young Adults on the Rise

Suicide Attempts by Young Adults on the Rise

Suicide attempts by young adults, particularly those with mental illness and less education, are increasing, a new study concludes.

Older adults have the highest overall suicide rates in the United States, the researchers report in JAMA Psychiatry.

The findings come from surveys of more than 69,000 adults, according to HealthDay.

Between 2004 and 2014, the annual suicide rate increased from 11 percent to 13 percent per 100,000 people. While middle-aged adults (aged 45-64 years) had the highest suicide rate, young adults (aged 21-34 years) had the biggest increase in suicide attempts.

Lead researcher Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University Medical Center said it is not clear why suicide attempts appear to be increasing among young adults.

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Hurricanes Magnify Addiction Issues

Hurricanes Magnify Addiction Issues

Authorities planning for natural disasters such as hurricanes must prepare for its effect on people struggling with drugs or alcohol, experts tell the Associated Press.

The stress of hurricanes leads to an increased danger of relapse and overdose.

Before Hurricane Irma hit Florida, a needle exchange program in Miami distributed extra syringes, while patients at methadone clinics picked up advance medication. Florida, in cooperation with the federal government, allowed methadone clinics to provide up to five days of medication ahead of the hurricane.

Scientists found that during Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, people with a drug problem often avoided evacuating in order to stay close to their dealers.

Some shared needles with strangers, which put them at risk of becoming infected with HIV and hepatitis. People who were in treatment missed doses of medication, and used street drugs to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Fatal Heroin Overdoses Have Risen Fivefold in 15 Years

Fatal Heroin Overdoses Have Risen Fivefold in 15 Years

Fatal heroin overdoses have risen fivefold from 2002 to 2016, according to a new government report.

Last year, an estimated 13,219 Americans died of a heroin overdose.

The number of people who used heroin in the United States rose from 404,000 in 2002 to 948,000 in 2016, CNN reports.

An estimated 11.8 million Americans misused an opioid last year. Of those, only 8 percent used heroin. The majority misused prescription painkillers, the article notes.

According to the findings, from the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 21 percent of Americans 12 and older with an opioid use disorder received treatment for their illicit drug use at a specialty facility in the past year. Receipt of treatment for illicit drug use at a specialty facility was higher among people with a heroin use disorder (37.5 percent) than among those with a prescription pain reliever use disorder (17.5 percent).

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Pennsylvania Congressman Nominated to Lead Drug Policy Office

The White House has announced President Trump will nominate Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), according to The Washington Post.

In April, CBS News reported that Marino was expected to be named the next head of ONCDP. In May, Marino withdrew from the position, citing a critical illness in his family.

Marino has worked to expand access to opioid addiction treatment. He was appointed to serve on the House’s committee combating the opioid epidemic in 2016, after two bills he introduced on drug control were enacted.

One of the bills, the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act, aims to curb drug trafficking across borders. The other bill increases collaboration between prescription drug distributors and the Drug Enforcement Administration to combat drug use.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Older Men Drink More Regularly, but Younger Men Drink More

Older Men Drink More Regularly, but Younger Men Drink More

Among the 67% of U.S. men who drink alcohol, those aged 50 and older are more likely than those under 50 to say they have imbibed within the last 24 hours, which suggests older men drink more frequently than younger men. However, younger men likely drink more than older men on the occasions when they do consume alcohol.

Men in all age groups drink more often than women do.

U.S. men aged 50 and older report they consumed an average of 5.3 alcoholic drinks over the past seven days, while men aged 18 to 49 had an average of 6.2 drinks. Both older and younger women report drinking fewer than three alcoholic beverages in the last week.

These data come from aggregated results of Gallup's Consumption Habits Survey from 2001-2017, totaling interviews with 11,544 U.S. adults who drink alcohol.

The type of drinks that men and women prefer may at least partly explain the difference in the number of alcoholic beverages they report having. In 2017, men are far more likely to say beer is their alcoholic beverage of choice (62%) than either wine (11%) or liquor (24%). In contrast, women favor wine (50%) over beer (19%) or liquor (28%). Even when accounting for gender and age, individuals who consume beer report drinking more alcoholic beverages than those who prefer wine, underscoring the relationship between one's beverage of choice and total consumption.

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Many Drug Dealers Test Strength of Synthetic Opioids on Customers

Many Drug Dealers Test Strength of Synthetic Opioids on Customers

Many drug dealers use their customers to test the strength of the synthetic opioids they sell, the Associated Press reports.

They want the drugs to be strong enough to keep their customers coming back, but not strong enough to kill them.

Local dealers take fentanyl made in Chinese labs and use powders such as baby formula to increase its volume and street value.

“It is sick and awful that dealers are treating people this way,” said Bradley Ray, Director of the Center for Criminal Justice Research at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, who studies overdose prevention. “It is sad that things have come to this. (Testers’) addictions will push them to take that; they’re not thinking clearly.”

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Hospitals Missing Opportunities to Help Opioid Overdose Survivors

Hospitals Missing Opportunities to Help Opioid Overdose Survivors

A new study suggests hospitals are missing opportunities to help opioid overdose survivors avoid future overdoses.

The researchers looked at claims data before and after overdoses among Medicaid patients who overdosed on heroin in Pennsylvania from 2008 to 2013, NPR reports.

The filling of opioid prescriptions fell by only 3.5 percent, while medication-assisted treatment rose by only 3.6 percent. Medication-assisted treatment—buprenorphine, naltrexone or methadone—is considered the gold standard treatment for opioid addiction, the article notes.

“This is a time when people are vulnerable, potentially frightened by this event that’s just occurred and amenable to advice, referral and treatment recommendations,” said study senior author Julie Donohue of the University of Pittsburgh. “It’s safe to characterize it as a missed opportunity for the health system to respond.”

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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President Has Not Yet Taken Action to Declare Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency

President Has Not Yet Taken Action to Declare Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency

Although President Trump announced in August that he was declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency, he has not yet taken formal steps to do so, CBS News reports.

If he does officially declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, then FEMA can make money available to states, the article notes.

States could also request aid, and public health workers could be redeployed to fight the epidemic.

Dr. Cece McNamara Spitznas, who works in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said, “What the powers are related to a national emergency and trying to determine how would that apply in this situation — it requires a lot of specialist eyes to take a look. And a lot of people to sit around and sort of go through exactly what we can do legally, and across all the different parts. I think we’re in that phase of looking at [it] and leaving no stone unturned on what is it that we can possibly do.”

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Would you like to help S.D. Change our Numbers?

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2017-2018 Pilot Community Project - Activist Recruitment Drive - Your National Council on Alcohol & Drug Dependency-San Diego together with Facing Addiction, Inc. needs your help! This Pilot Community Project will work to reform the public response to the addiction crisis in our San Diego communities via a grassroots-driven campaign strategy. S...
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A Facing Addiction & NCADD-SD Joint Training Event

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Community Organizing, Messaging & Advocacy NCADD - SD and Facing Addiction invites you, as Captains or Advocates, to join us in learning and exploring best practices for working with our community. This training is designed to equip Captains and Advocates with the necessary tools with which to affect policy change in our community. These traini...
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Alcohol Abuse, Mental Health Causes of Avoidable U.S. ER visits

Alcohol Abuse, Mental Health Causes of Avoidable U.S. ER visits

A new study found that 3.5 percent of all emergency department visits in the United States were avoidable and for non-life-threatening conditions.

The study, published in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care, found the top three discharge diagnoses for hospital emergency departments in the United States were alcohol abuse, dental disorders and mood disorders like anxiety or depression.

Researchers defined avoidable visits as those where there was no requirement of diagnostic or screening services, procedures or medications, with patients being discharged home.Researchers analyzed data from 424 million emergency department visits by patients age 18 to 64 from 2005 to 2011 and found 6.8 percent of all avoidable visits were due to alcohol abuse or mood disorders.

Roughly 3.9 percent of avoidable visits were due to dental disorders of the teeth and jaw. The study found that 16.9 percent of all mood disorder visits were avoidable, 10.4 percent of all alcohol-related visits were avoidable and 4.9 percent of all dental visits were avoidable.

Of all the avoidable visits to the emergency department during the study period, 14 percent were made by ambulance

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September is National Recovery Month

September is National Recovery Month

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is sponsoring the 23rd National Recovery Month (Recovery Month).

This long-standing, national observance promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for substance use and mental disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible.

The goal is to educate Americans that addiction treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.

Each September, thousands of prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and services around the country celebrate their successes and share them with their neighbors, friends, and colleagues in an effort to educate the public about recovery, how it works, for whom, and why. There are millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery.

These successes often go unnoticed by the broader population; therefore, Recovery Month provides a vehicle to celebrate these accomplishments.

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Solution for Teen Opioid Crisis may come from Pediatric Primary Care

Solution for Teen Opioid Crisis may come from Pediatric Primary Care

Despite the fact that recent federal reports found that drug-overdose deaths increased in 2015 among U.S. adolescents aged 15–19, a new primary care pediatric practice model designed to treat teens with substance-use disorder is showing promise.

The nation’s health system is struggling to cope with the toll of substance-use disorder as there are too few pediatric or adolescent medicine physicians specializing in addiction medicine and too few inpatient treatment beds, according to Sharon Levy, MD. She is director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and represents the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) membership on the AMA Opioid Task Force.

One solution that is starting to gain momentum is integrating treatment programs into pediatric primary care, Dr. Levy said in an interview with AMA Wire® and, previously, in an essay she co-wrote for The Lancet.

“Addressing the opioid crisis will require innovative strategies, including some that should prompt dramatic rethinking of the role and training of pediatric generalists,” Dr. Levy and her colleagues wrote. “With its neurobiological, molecular and genetic aspects, addiction is a disorder that falls squarely into the set of common conditions in which pediatric providers should have competency. It is incumbent on providers who care for young people to do their part to address the opioid crisis before more young lives are lost.”

A major component of Dr. Levy’s primary care strategy includes medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and having prescribers in a practice undergo the eight-hour training course that is required by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) before a health professional can prescribe or dispense buprenorphine. (Find education resources at the AMA Opioid Task Force website.)

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Heavy Drinkers Helped With Very Brief Mindfulness Training

Heavy Drinkers Helped With Very Brief Mindfulness Training

Very brief mindfulness training could help heavy drinkers to start cutting back. So concludes a new study that found that as little as 11 minutes of mindfulness training helped heavy drinkers to reduce their alcohol intake in the following week.

An article in Medical News Today announced that researchers from University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom ran an experiment that compared the effect of "ultra-brief" mindfulness training against relaxation training (the controls).

Lead author Dr. Sunjeev Kamboj, deputy director of the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit at UCL, says, "We found that a very brief, simple exercise in mindfulness can help drinkers cut back, and the benefits can be seen quite quickly."

Writing in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, he and his colleagues explain that in recent years, there has been much interest in incorporating mindfulness training into psychological treatments for addiction.

Mindfulness training teaches people to heighten their "moment-to-moment awareness" of what is going on in the mind without judging it. Thus, when a craving arises, mindfulness training teaches you how to just observe the sensations, thoughts, and feelings of that moment without evaluating or analyzing them.

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“It all comes down to your choices.”

“It all comes down to your choices.”

“It all comes down to your choices,” said a man in his fifties as he completed treatment following a brief return to drinking lots of alcohol.

In the company of supportive peers and an empathic treatment team, this man had immersed himself for three weeks in mindfulness practices structured by Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). He also maintained connections with his sponsor and Alcoholics Anonymous.

The man recounted how an offer of alcohol—made amid physical, interpersonal, and financial stressors—precipitated his most recent drinking episode. Similar situations had instigated previous binges.

In the future, he plans to minimize exposure to stressors and drinking opportunities. When stressors or alcohol are unavoidable, he anticipates choosing to notice them without reacting in ways that conflict with his values. “Personal responsibility” for “choices” protects his paramount value, sobriety.

Such clarity is too rare. Many others with addiction—and people around them—would do well to adopt this perspective. Choices represent the way out of active addiction, much as they represent the way in.

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