NCADD-SD News & Blog

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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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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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Collaborative Care Shows Promise for Opioid and Alcohol Use Disorders

Collaborative Care Shows Promise for Opioid and Alcohol Use Disorders

A NIDA-funded randomized clinical trial found that primary care patients with opioid and alcohol use disorders (OAUD) who were offered a collaborative care intervention were more likely to receive evidence-based treatment and refrain from using opioids and alcohol six months later, compared to patients receiving usual care.

The collaborative care intervention increased both the proportion of patients receiving evidence-based treatment for OAUD (39.0% vs. 16.8%) and the number refraining from opioids or alcohol use at six months. (32.8% vs. 22.3%).

Collaborative care was designed to increase the delivery of either a six-session brief psychotherapy treatment, and/or medication-assisted treatment, with either buprenorphine/naloxone for opioid use disorders or long-acting injectable naltrexone for alcohol use disorders. Usual care participants were given a number for appointment scheduling and a list of community referrals for OAUD treatment.

The authors suggest the findings indicate that treatment for OAUDs can be integrated into primary care settings effectively.

For a copy of the paper go to — "Collaborative Care for Opioid and Alcohol Use Disorders in Primary Care: The SUMMIT Randomized Clinical Trial"— published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Bev Haberle, Executive Director of The Council Of Southeast Pennsylvania In Doylestown, to Retire at End Of Year

Bev Haberle, Executive Director of The Council Of Southeast Pennsylvania In Doylestown, to Retire at End Of Year

 

Beverly Haberle has, for thirty-two years, been the Executive Director of The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc. (formerly Bucks County Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.), a non-profit education advocacy association.

And for the past twelve years, Ms. Haberle has been the Project Director for the Pennsylvania Recovery Organization/Achieving Community Together (PRO-ACT), a grass roots organization mobilizing the recovering community family members and other interested advocates.

Ms. Haberle holds a Master’s degree in Human Services, is a Licensed Professional Counselor, and a Certified Addictions Counselor. Ms. Haberle has been a past member of the Board of Directors for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. and currently sits on a number of Boards and state-wide drug and alcohol coalitions and committees. In addition, Ms. Haberle has been a part time faculty member at Penn State University since 1991. 2011 Elected National Board Member Faces and Voices of Recovery.

As Beverly Haberle is nearing the time to retire from her role as Executive Director of The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc, is embarking on a comprehensive leadership transition.

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Family Physicians Have a Better Chance Treating Substance Use Disorders

Family Physicians Have a Better Chance Treating Substance Use Disorders

AMA Source recently published an article noting that patients with substance use disorders may experience stigma that can interfere with treatment options.

But when substance use disorders are recognized and treated as a chronic disease, that stigma can be reduced.

The article goes on to note that treating patients with substance use disorders in a family medicine setting can be a unique situation because physicians are often treating other members of the patient’s family as well. At first, patients may be reluctant to discuss substance use but once the condition is out in the open, having the family involved can be beneficial.

And since many primary care physicians (especially those in family medicine) know many of their patients very well and have established a long-term relationship. That can be advantageous when a patient begins to show signs of a substance use disorder.

Once the physician and patient have had a conversation about substance use and have determined that it would be best to seek treatment, the primary care setting can be a great place for that treatment to occur. Some patients feel more comfortable when their substance use disorder is treated in the same way as any other medical condition, which can also reduce the stigma.

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Women Who Inject Drugs May Be At Greater Risk of HCV Than Men

Women Who Inject Drugs May Be At Greater Risk of HCV Than Men

There is a clear body of research assessing sex and gender differences in risk behaviors among people who inject drugs, however little or no research has investigated sex differences in hepatitis C (HCV) susceptibility.

A newly published analysis examining data from more than 1800 people suggests that women who inject drugs have a 38% higher risk of contracting HCV than their male counterparts.

Interestingly, while sharing of syringes and other injection equipment is a significant risk factor for HCV, differences in these behaviors did not account for the higher risk among women.

The research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National institutes of Health.

The analysis used data from the International Collaboration of Incident HIV and HCV in Injecting Cohorts, a project of pooled biological and behavioral data from ten prospective cohorts of people who inject drugs, including the United States, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands. This study includes data from seven of the 10 cohorts.

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Meth Use Linked to Heightened Stroke Risk in the Young

Meth Use Linked to Heightened Stroke Risk in the Young

The stimulant methamphetamine, also popularly known as 'speed,' 'ice' and 'meth,' is linked to a heightened risk of stroke among young people, reveals a review of the available evidence, published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

According to a recent article in Medical News Today, a stroke caused by a bleed into the brain (haemorrhagic) rather than a clot (ischaemic) is the most common type associated with taking this drug, with men twice as likely to succumb as women, the findings show.

Given the often disabling or fatal consequences of a stroke, and the increasing use of methamphetamine among young people, particularly in countries around the Pacific rim, the findings are a cause for concern, warn the researchers.

They base their findings on a comprehensive trawl of research looking at a potential link between methamphetamine use and associated stroke risk in young people (under the age of 45), and published up to February 2017. They found 77 relevant pieces of research out of 370, including epidemiological studies and case report series.

Methamphetamine can be swallowed, inhaled, or injected. Haemorrhagic strokes were equally associated with swallowing the drug and injecting it while inhalation was the most common method of getting high associated with ischaemic stroke.

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Marijuana Use Triples Risk of Death from Hypertension

Marijuana Use Triples Risk of Death from Hypertension

The risk of death from hypertension is three times greater in adults who use marijuana, compared with nonusers, based on data from a retrospective study of 1,213 adults.

According to an article in Cardiology News, the recent changes in the legalization of marijuana may promote increased recreational use, but data on the long-term effects of marijuana use on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular mortality are limited, wrote Barbara A. Yankey, PhD, of Georgia State University, Atlanta, and her colleagues.

The researchers collected data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from adults aged 20 years and older who were asked between 2005 and 2006 whether they had ever used marijuana, and those who answered “yes” were defined as users. Data on 686 users and 527 nonusers were combined with the 2011 mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Overall, marijuana users had a 3.42 times greater risk of death from hypertension than did nonusers (95% confidence interval, 1.20-9.79), and the risk increased by 1.04 for each year of use (95% CI, 1.00-1.07). The average duration of marijuana use was 11.5 years. At the time of study entry, the average age of the participants was 38 years, and the average body mass index was 29 kg/m2; 23% of marijuana users and 21% of nonusers had a prior diagnosis of hypertension.

Of the study participants, 20% used marijuana and smoked cigarettes, 16% used marijuana and were past smokers, 5% were past smokers, and 4% only smoked cigarettes. “In our study, increase in risk for hypertension, [heart disease], or cerebrovascular disease mortality associated with cigarette use was not significant,” the researchers wrote. They attributed this factor to the small sample size and noted that the dangers of cigarette smoking to the cardiovascular system are well established.

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Study Finds Large Increase in Alcohol Use, High-Risk Drinking and Alcohol Use Disorders

Study Finds Large Increase in Alcohol Use, High-Risk Drinking and Alcohol Use Disorders

The percentage of Americans who use alcohol, engage in high-risk drinking or have an alcohol use disorder has risen substantially, a new study finds.

The study, which included face-to-face interviews with 40,000 Americans, found alcohol use disorders increased 49 percent between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, according to CNN.

Alcohol use has increased most among women, older adults, racial/ethnic minorities and the socioeconomically disadvantaged, the researchers report in JAMA Psychiatry. Alcohol use disorders rose 106.7 percent among individuals age 65 and older during the study period.

The researchers conclude that almost 30 million Americans are struggling with an alcohol use disorder.

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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Cities Across U.S. Report Increase in Drug Overdoses Related to Fentanyl

Cities Across U.S. Report Increase in Drug Overdoses Related to Fentanyl

Cities across the United States are seeing a steep increase in the number of overdose-related deaths related to fentanyl, The Washington Post reports.

Fentanyl-related overdose deaths rose almost 600 percent from 2014 to 2016 in 24 of the nation’s largest cities and surrounding counties. In 2014 there were 582 fentanyl-related fatal overdoses.

That number jumped to 3,946 last year. Officials expect a much larger number of deadly fentanyl-related overdoses this year, the article notes.

“If anything can be likened to a weapon of mass destruction in what it can do to a community, it’s fentanyl,” said Michael Ferguson, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New England Division. “It’s manufactured death.”

Original linkOriginal author: Ezra
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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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