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Do We Have an Amphetamine Problem on College Campuses?

Do We Have an Amphetamine Problem on College Campuses?

College is a stressful time for students. Balancing the rigors of studying and coursework with the social and financial demands of college life can be particularly challenging.

Some students try to deal with these challenges by taking amphetamines or stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin, thinking it will improve their focus and academic performance or allow them to stay awake and alert late into the night to study, work or party. While Adderall has proven benefits for individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), taking amphetamines for nonmedical or non-prescribed purposes can be extremely dangerous and even deadly.

What are amphetamines?Amphetamines are central nervous system stimulants that have been used in many forms over the years as a way to reduce hunger and fatigue or improve mental focus. Amphetamines are also an addictive substance and can have severe side effects for individuals who misuse them or take them for non-medical purposes. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), amphetamines are a schedule II drug, meaning they have a high potential for abuse as well as a high risk of addiction. There are critical and potentially fatal consequences of misusing prescription amphetamines, including medications prescribed to treat ADHD.As ADHD became the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorder in children, the production of amphetamines in the United States rapidly increased, as did the number of young people receiving prescriptions for stimulant medications. From 1993 to 2001, Adderall production increased by a staggering 5,767 percent. Additionally, stimulant medications, including Adderall, Dexedrine and Ritalin, have more than quintupled in sales from $1.7 billion in 2002 to almost $9 billion in 2012. With amphetamines readily available, it makes sense that these stimulant drugs are being widely misused on college campuses.

How many college students are misusing amphetamines?The number of students taking amphetamines for nonmedical reasons is continuing to rise. Students report that it is easy to get ADHD medication in college and studies have shown that the percentage of college students who report using ADHD stimulants for nonmedical reasons ranges from 5 to 35 percent. Moreover, national research indicates that full-time college students between the ages of 18 to 22 years old are twice as likely as those who are not full-time students to report using Adderall.

While stimulant misuse is definitely a concern on college campuses, many students do not think that taking amphetamines for nonmedical purposes is particularly harmful. For example, a 2016 national survey stated that 38.5 percent of college-age individuals (19 to 22 years old) reported that regularly taking these drugs for nonmedical purposes did not pose a “great risk” of harm and this age group was the least likely relative to 12th graders or older young adults to disapprove of their misuse.

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Marijuana Use Is Associated With an Increased Risk of Rx Opioid Misuse and Use Disorders

Marijuana Use Is Associated With an Increased Risk of Rx Opioid Misuse and Use Disorders

New research suggests that marijuana users may be more likely than nonusers to misuse prescription opioids and develop prescription opioid use disorder.

The study was conducted by researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and Columbia University.

The investigators analyzed data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which interviewed more than 43,000 American adults in 2001-2002, and followed up with more than 34,000 of them in 2004-2005.

The analysis indicated that respondents who reported past-year marijuana use in their initial interview had 2.2 times higher odds than nonusers of meeting DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for prescription opioid use disorder by the follow-up. They also had 2.6 times greater odds of initiating prescription opioid misuse, defined as using a drug without a prescription, in higher doses, for longer periods, or for other reasons than prescribed.

A number of recent papers suggest that marijuana may reduce prescription opioid addiction and overdoses by providing an alternate or complementary pain relief option. That suggestion is partly based on comparisons of aggregate data from states that legalized marijuana for medical use vs. those that didn’t. In contrast, the current study focuses on individual marijuana users vs. nonusers and their trajectories with regard to opioid misuse and disorders. These findings are in-line with previous research demonstrating that people who use marijuana are more likely than non-users to use other drugs and develop problems with drug use.

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Patient Advocacy & Health Care Orgs Launch ‘Campaign to Protect Patient Privacy Rights’

Patient Advocacy & Health Care Orgs Launch ‘Campaign to Protect Patient Privacy Rights’

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has joined more than 110 organizations in a campaign to protect patient privacy rights.

Many of the nation’s leading addiction treatment, recovery, health care and advocacy organizations announced a new coordinated effort – the Campaign to Protect Patient Privacy Rights – to advocate for maintaining the confidentiality of substance use disorder (SUD) patients in the face of proposals to eradicate these essential rights.

The Campaign, which includes the Legal Action Center, the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, AIDS United, Community Catalyst, Faces and Voices of Recovery, Facing Addiction, Harm Reduction Coalition, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, and over 100 other patient and provider advocacy groups, has issued a set of principles to guide its advocacy and to help inform policymakers and the public on the critical issues at stake.

The federal SUD confidentiality rules, known as 42 C.F.R. Part 2 (“Part 2”), were established more than 40 years ago to ensure that people with a substance use disorder are not made more vulnerable to discriminatory practices and legal consequences as a result of seeking treatment. The rules prevent treatment providers from disclosing information about a patient’s substance use treatment without patient consent in most circumstances. Proposals to replace Part 2’s confidentiality requirements with HIPAA’s more relaxed standards would not sufficiently protect people seeking and receiving SUD treatment, and could expose patients to great harm.

Unlike most other medical illnesses, substance use disorders often have criminal and civil legal consequences. Part 2 provides safeguards for patients against potentially disastrous results of unauthorized disclosure. Unlike individuals with other illnesses or disabilities, SUD patients are vulnerable to arrest, prosecution, and incarceration. Additionally, many people with SUD are not protected by federal or state civil rights laws that protect people with disabilities from employment, housing and other types of discrimination. Loosened confidentiality protections for SUD patient records can not only discourage patients from seeking treatment, but also subjects them to the risk of experiencing severe negative consequences and discrimination.

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National Prescription Drug Take Back Day - October 28, 2017

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day - October 28, 2017

On Saturday, October 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Drug Enforcement Administration will give the public its 14th opportunity in 7 years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.

The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last April Americans turned in 450 tons (900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at almost 5,500 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,200 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 13 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 8.1 million pounds—more than 4,050 tons—of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the October 28 Take Back Day event, go to the DEA Diversion website.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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FDA Approves Marketing of First Mobile App to Help Treat Substance Use Disorders

FDA Approves Marketing of First Mobile App to Help Treat Substance Use Disorders

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has permitted marketing of the first mobile app to help treat substance use disorders (SUD).

The app is designed to be prescribed by a doctor and used along with counseling, CNBC reports.

The Reset device delivers cognitive behavioral therapy to patients to teach skills that aid in the treatment of substance use disorders, the company says.

These skills are “intended to increase abstinence from substance abuse and increase retention in outpatient therapy programs,” according to a news release from the FDA.

The agency said the Reset device is indicated as a prescription-only adjunct treatment for patients with SUD who are not currently on opioid replacement therapy, who do not abuse alcohol solely, or whose primary substance of abuse is not opioids.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Some Insurance Companies Restrict Access to Less Addictive Pain Medications

Some Insurance Companies Restrict Access to Less Addictive Pain Medications

Some insurance companies are restricting patients’ access to pain medicines with a lower risk of dependence or addiction, while making it easier to get generic opioid drugs, The New York Times reports.

Opioids drugs are generally less expensive than safer alternatives, the article notes.

The New York Times and ProPublica analyzed Medicare prescription drug plans covering 35.7 million people.

They found only one-third of people had access to Butrans, a painkilling skin patch containing buprenorphine, a less-risky opioid. Every drug plan that covered lidocaine patches, which are not addictive, but are more expensive than other generic pain drugs, required that patients get prior approval for the patches.

Almost all plans covered common opioids, and few plans required patients to obtain prior approval for them.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Google Restricts Ads for Addiction Treatment

Google Restricts Ads for Addiction Treatment

Google has announced it is restricting ads for addiction treatment.

“We found a number of misleading experiences among rehabilitation treatment centers that led to our decision,” a company spokeswoman said.

Prosecutors and health advocates have warned that many online searches for addiction treatment lead people to click on ads for rehab centers that are not suited to help them, or may even endanger their lives, according to The New York Times.

Many rehab centers buy ads that would come up when someone searched for phrases such as “alcohol treatment centers” or “drug rehab.”

“This is a bold move by one of the world’s biggest companies, saying people’s lives are more important than profit,” said Greg Williams, co-founder of the advocacy group Facing Addiction.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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More Children and Teens Arriving in Emergency Rooms Dependent on Opioids

More Children and Teens Arriving in Emergency Rooms Dependent on Opioids

More children and teens are arriving in U.S. emergency rooms dependent on or addicted to opioids, HealthDay reports.

Almost 50,000 ER patients ages 21 and younger were diagnosed with opioid dependence or addiction in 2013, up from 32,200 in 2008, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“It was very concerning to see that by the last year we studied, an average of 135 children each day were testing positive for opioid addiction or dependency in emergency departments,” study co-author Veerajalandhar Allareddy, MD of the University of Iowa said in a news release. “In our opinion, this is a pediatric public health crisis.”

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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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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