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Recreational Marijuana Sales Begin in California

Recreational Marijuana Sales Begin in California

Recreational marijuana sales began on January 1 in California.

California, the nation’s most populous state, is the sixth state to allow sales of recreational marijuana.

Adults 21 and older can possess as much as one ounce of marijuana, and grow up to six plants at home.

The marijuana industry in California is forecast to reach $7 billion in a few years, the article notes. The entire U.S. legal marijuana market was worth $6.6 billion in 2016, according to New Frontier Data, which tracks the industry.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. It is unlawful to take the drug across state lines, mail it or bring it on a plane.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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What’s Behind the Addiction Crisis in Rural America?

What’s Behind the Addiction Crisis in Rural America?

People in rural America are dying from drug overdoses at a faster rate than Americans who live in other parts of the country, and opioid poisonings in rural counties are increasing at more than three times the rate of increase in urban counties. Why are rural Americans being hit so hard by the opioid crisis?

While many factors contribute to substance misuse and addiction in rural regions of states such as Kentucky, Maine, and West Virginia, several are linked to the recent social and economic decline of rural communities. The dawn of the 21st century brought dramatic and rapid transformations in American rural life. The Great Recession took a significant toll on rural areas where employment dropped and has not yet returned to pre-recession levels. And rural job growth has lagged well behind urban job growth since 2011. Further, economic globalization and the relocation of production jobs overseas caused a shift away from stable and reasonably compensated employment in production to poorly compensated service jobs.

As one might expect, poverty in rural areas is rising. Between 2000 and 2005–2009, the number of non-metro communities with poverty rates exceeding 30 percent increased nearly 50 percent, from 1,125 to 1,666. More than 300 rural counties (15.2 percent of all rural counties) qualify as persistently poor, compared with just 50 urban counties (4.3 percent of all urban counties).

This socioeconomic decline in rural communities has increased the risk of addiction, particularly opioid addiction, among those who live there. For example, the limited available work in rural areas is often physical and sometimes dangerous. As a result, chronic pain and injuries are more common than in urban areas. The cost of taking time off from work to heal is so great that many of the rural poor have come to rely on opioid pain medications just to keep functioning.

The high rate of opioid prescriptions in rural counties has increased the availability of opioids, putting more people at risk for addiction. Those at risk are not just the recipients of the original prescriptions. Diversion is common due to the widespread need for money and the close social and family connections that characterize rural communities. When everyone knows everyone, it’s easy to find someone who is willing to sell their medication.

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Social Media is Bringing Our Teens Down

Social Media is Bringing Our Teens Down

According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there was a 33% increase in the number of teens experiencing depression, a 23% rise in teen suicide attempts, and a 31% surge in the number of teens who died by suicide in the five years between 2010 to 2015.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Foundation says suicide is now the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 to 24.

What has gone wrong in the lives of our teens and why at such an alarming rate?

Despite the critical nature of this question, there are no clear answers. There is, however, a great deal of speculation, and many say our kids’ use of social media contributes this high suicide rate.

In a paper published in Clinical Psychological Science, researcher Jean Twenge and her colleagues found significant increases in depression, suicide attempts, and suicide in teens from every background in late 2012. At the same time, smartphone ownership crossed the 50% threshold. By 2015, just three years later the number of teens with access to smartphones grew to a whopping 73%.

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FDA Launches Campaign to Counter Tobacco Promotion

FDA Launches Campaign to Counter Tobacco Promotion

With smokers experiencing a number of triggers to use at popular retail locations, the federal government has decided to fight back on the same playing field.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that its “Every Try Counts” campaign will display at convenience stores and gas stations a number of messages encouraging smokers to quit.

The two-year campaign, which will launch in 35 U.S. markets in January, will try to capitalize on research showing that smokers who have previously tried to quit are more likely to try again. One of the campaign's print advertisements reads, “You Didn't Fail at Quitting. You Just Haven't Finished the Process.”

The FDA and the National Cancer Institute have partnered to establish an Every Try Counts website that offers consumers tips on quitting and words of encouragement, as well as a mobile app to track triggers and information on access to coaching assistance.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Cigarette smoking is increasing among Americans with drug problems

Cigarette smoking is increasing among Americans with drug problems

Odds of smoking among Americans with a substance use disorder are more than five times greater than the overall population ---science daily

While cigarette smoking has declined in the U.S. for the past several decades, since 2002 the prevalence of smoking has increased significantly among people with an illicit substance use disorder, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the City University of New York.

Until now, little was known about whether the decline in smoking was also occurring among individuals with illicit substance use disorders. The findings are published online in the journal Addiction.

The data show that smoking rates increased among those with substance use disorders, including hallucinogens, inhalants, tranquilizers, cocaine, heroin, pain relievers, simulants, and sedatives, while cigarette smoking decreased among individuals with cannabis use disorders, as well as among those without any substance use disorders.

Source: Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. (2017, December 19).

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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South Carolina Partners with Law Enforcement on Naloxone Program

South Carolina Partners with Law Enforcement on Naloxone Program

State prevention leaders joined forces with local police departments to create an effective naloxone training, distribution, and monitoring program.

On June 3, 2015, then Governor Nikki Haley signed the South Carolina Overdose Prevention Act into law, increasing medical professionals' access to the anti-overdose drug naloxone and authorizing first responders, including firefighters and police officers, to carry and administer it.1,2 The need to expand the safe use of this life-saving medication was urgent. In 2015, 468 people in South Carolina had died from opioid-related overdoses, up from 453 deaths the previous year.3

Police involvement in administering naloxone was critical, as police officers were frequently first on the scene of many overdoses. "Many of our counties are very rural. It takes anywhere from six to eight minutes for an ambulance to respond to a 911 call, whereas law enforcement typically responds in four minutes or less," says Michelle Nienhius, Prevention Manager for the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS). "When someone overdoses on heroin or other opioid drugs, minutes can mean the difference between life and death."

But the new state law presented challenges to local law enforcement. "Many of them thought that it was not their place, that administering naloxone was for [emergency medical services] to provide," says Nienhius.

To prepare law enforcement for their new role, DAODAS worked with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control's Bureau of Emergency Medical Services to create a pilot overdose prevention/naloxone training and monitoring program. "We were fortunate to have a forward-thinking partner who had experience training EMTs to use naloxone," Nienhius says. With additional input from the state’s Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, and naloxone products donated by two pharmaceutical companies, the team created the Law Enforcement Officer Naloxone (LEON) program—a comprehensive training and online reporting system.

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National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW) is coming January 22-28, 2018

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW) is coming January 22-28, 2018

NDAFW is a national health observance linking teens to science based facts to SHATTER THE MYTHS® about drugs!

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® links students with scientists and other experts to counteract the myths about drugs and alcohol that teens get from the internet, social media, TV, movies, music, or from friends.

It was launched in 2010 by scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to stimulate educational events in communities so teens can learn what science has taught us about drug use and addiction.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism became a partner starting in 2016, and alcohol has been added as a topic area for the week.

NIDA and NIAAA are part of the National Institutes of Health.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Children of Alcoholics Week 12-18 February 2017

Children of Alcoholics Week 12-18 February 2017

Imagine coming home from school and dreading what you might find. Imagine having no friends because you’re too embarrassed to bring them home in case Mum or Dad are drunk, or worse. Imagine living in a home full of fear and having no one to turn to because everyone denies there’s a problem.

Children of Alcoholics (COA) Week is a campaign led by Nacoa (The National Association for Children of Alcoholics) to raise awareness of children affected by parental alcohol problems.

COA Awareness Week will be held February 11-17, 2018.

Together we can increase awareness of this hidden problem and the support available. Find out how you can help children of all ages know they are not alone.

Children of Alcoholics Week is celebrated internationally each year during the week in which Valentine’s Day falls. There are organizations holding COA Week activities in USA, Germany, Poland, Sweden and Slovenia.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Aetna Will Waive Co-Pay for Narcan for Some Customers

Aetna Will Waive Co-Pay for Narcan for Some Customers

The health insurance company Aetna said it will waive co-pays for the opioid overdose antidote Narcan (naloxone) starting in January, CNN Money reports.

“Aetna is committed to addressing the opioid crisis through prevention, intervention and treatment,” Harold L. Paz, MD, MS, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Aetna said in a news release. “Increasing access to Narcan can save lives so that individuals with opioid abuse disorder can live long enough to get into evidence-based treatment.”

According to research from the company that makes Narcan, almost 35 percent of Aetna members prescribed the drug between January to June 2017 did not pick up their prescription.

Members are less likely to fill Narcan prescriptions as co-pays increase. “Cost is clearly a factor in whether individuals with substance abuse disorder obtain medication that could save them from a fatal overdose,” Paz said. “By eliminating this barrier, we hope to keep our members safe until they are ready to address their addiction.”

 

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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People Who Live With Someone Taking Painkillers More Likely to Get Own Rx

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

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.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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FDA Sends Warning to Distributors of Snortable Chocolate Powder Called “Coco Loko”

FDA Sends Warning to Distributors of Snortable Chocolate Powder Called “Coco Loko”

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 powder, not to mention the societal dangers of promoting drug abuse.”

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Cashing in Gift Cards to Pay for Opioids Becoming More Common

Cashing in Gift Cards to Pay for Opioids Becoming More Common

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.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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St. Louis Police Saving Fewer Lives with Heroin Antidote Amid Stronger Opiates

St. Louis Police Saving Fewer Lives with Heroin Antidote Amid Stronger Opiates

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 patients. St. Louis County officer Benjamin Granda said that this year, officers gave three doses to an overdose victim who died.

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FDA Approves First Monthly Injection to Treat Opioid Addiction

FDA Approves First Monthly Injection to Treat Opioid Addiction

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 combination with counseling and psychosocial support, as part of a comprehensive recovery plan,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.

Improving access to prevention, treatment and recovery services, including the full range of medication-assisted treatments, is a focus of the FDA’s ongoing work to reduce the scope of the opioid crisis and one part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Five-Point Strategy to Combat the Opioid Crisis.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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NCADD Affiliate Executive Director Featured in TEDx Event

NCADD Affiliate Executive Director Featured in TEDx Event

 

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 TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

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Criminal Justice System Could Play Key Role in Better Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Criminal Justice System Could Play Key Role in Better Treatment for Opioid Addiction

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.

Their findings stem from an analysis of about 72,000 adults admitted for the first time to a treatment program for opioid abuse. This included more than 17,000 people referred by police, judges, prosecutors, probation officers or others in the local, state or federal criminal justice system.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Surgeons Try Prescribing Fewer Opioids to Combat Addiction Risks

Surgeons Try Prescribing Fewer Opioids to Combat Addiction Risks

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.

They then analyzed how patients fared under the new approach, tracking 200 surgery patients who received substantially fewer prescribed painkillers and found that despite getting less medication, patients didn’t report higher levels of pain.

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Deaths During Opioid-Related Hospital Stays in U.S. Quadrupled

Deaths During Opioid-Related Hospital Stays in U.S. Quadrupled

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 skewed younger — the average age was 39 years old — and were more likely to be Caucasian. The number of black and Hispanic patients admitted to hospitals for opioid or heroin use remained relatively stable.

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Why is America Addicted to Opioid Pain Relievers?

Why is America Addicted to Opioid Pain Relievers?

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 RelieversIn 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 expanding the medication’s supply.

In the same year, the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma, received government approval to market OxyContin, a powerful opioid medication, as a “minimally addictive” prescription opioid. The company claimed that less than one percent of people would become addicted to the drug despite little evidence to support this claim.To promote OxyContin, Purdue Pharma pursued aggressive marketing strategies, spending over $200 million in 2001 alone. It also directly targeted doctors across the country with campaigns that misrepresented the safety of its product.

Between 1996 and 2000, sales of OxyContin increased from $48 million to $1.1 billion. From 1997 to 2002, OxyContin prescriptions increased tenfold. In 2003, approximately half of all OxyContin prescriptions came from primary care physicians, as opposed to oncologists, surgeons or other specialists who treat people with severe conditions. By 2004, OxyContin was the leading misused drug in the U.S.

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Alcohol: America’s #1 Addiction Problem

Alcohol: America’s #1 Addiction Problem

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 ClimbRecent 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 percent over this same 10 year period.

The Damaging EffectsAlcohol addiction and high-risk drinking have an immense impact on society, from both a financial and personal perspective. Alcohol-related problems, such as health care costs, lost productivity and car crashes, cost society an estimated $250 billion each year. Moreover, approximately 88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes. That is 55,000 more people than died from an opioid overdose in 2015.

The Sobering TruthWhile the opioid epidemic should not be ignored, it is important to remain aware of the tremendous toll alcohol misuse and addiction have on our society. Addiction in any form is a big problem in America, requiring a big solution. Furthermore, people with addiction are likely to misuse multiple addictive substances, such as alcohol and opioids, often resulting in even more destructive consequences such as a heightened risk for depression or overdose.

Ultimately, there are too many families affected by addiction, regardless of the drug involved, and each deserves support, attention and the allocation of sufficient resources to ensure that every person with addiction gets the help he or she needs.

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