Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Cashing in Gift Cards to Pay for Opioids Becoming More Common

DECEMBER 14, 2017 BY PARTNERSHIP NEWS SERVICE STAFF 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.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

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." The article in NewsWorks goes on to note that Older Americans tend to take more prescription medications than younger adults. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that excessive alcohol consumption costs the American economy billions each year. "The numbers we have are about $250 billion a year in health care costs and social costs. And drunk driving costs and every which way," said Koob. "It doesn't matter what age you are. The earlier you intervene the more likely you're going to have some success," he said.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

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.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Trucking Contemplates Drug Policies in Age of Legal Pot

As more states legalize marijuana, it’s becoming a growing issue for the trucking industry. Recreational marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2014, and drug tests indicate more drivers and job applicants are using the substance. Even as more trucking companies and commercial driver’s license schools are telling candidates not to fill out applications if they’re going to test positive, failure rates are still as high as 60 percent, said Greg Fulton, president of the Colorado Motor Carriers Assn. It’s hurting the ability of some companies to grow, said Fulton. “It’s just so much more prevalent. It’s in cookies, muffins, bread, candy. More people are testing positive. People say they were at a party and just didn’t know.” Recreational marijuana is now legal in Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia. Medical marijuana is also legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, and a 2016 survey from Gallup revealed that 13 percent of Americans said they use marijuana, up from only 7 percent in 2013. Still, trucking companies won’t be changing their zero-tolerance policies anytime soon, in part because marijuana remains illegal under federal law and Department of Transportation regulation.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Opioid Misuse on the Rise Among Older Americans: Report

Misuse of opioids, including heroin and prescription painkillers, has risen among adults 50 and older, according to a new government report. Rates of opioid misuse have decreased among young adults. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found opioid misuse rose from 1 percent to 2 percent among older adults from 2002 to 2014, while rates decreased from 11.5 percent to 8 percent during the same period, HealthDay reports. Overall, 9.5 million adults misused opioids in the past year, SAMHSA found. “The high rates of [multiple] illnesses in older populations and the potential for drug interactions has profound implications for the health and well-being of older adults who continue to misuse opioids,” Dr. Kimberly Johnson, Director for the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, said in a news release. JULY 27, 2017 BY PARTNERSHIP NEWS SERVICE STAFF

Thursday, June 29, 2017

People With Anxiety and Depression Have High Rate of Prescription Opioid Use

People with anxiety and depression have a high rate of prescription opioid use, a new study finds. Almost 19 percent of the estimated 38.6 million people diagnosed with anxiety and depression received at least two prescriptions for opioids in one year, the study found. More than half of opioid prescriptions went to people with these mental health disorders, according to The Washington Post. People with anxiety and depression may feel pain more acutely, or may be less able to cope with the pain, leading to increased requests for opioids, said lead researcher Brian Sites of Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. Pain that “you may report as a two out of 10, someone with mental health disorders — depression, anxiety — may report as a 10 out of 10,” Sites told the newspaper. He added that opioids may improve the symptoms of depression for a short while. This may lead patients to ask for additional refills. The study will appear in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Drug Overdose Deaths Rose 19 Percent in 2016

JUNE 8, 2017 BY PARTNERSHIP NEWS SERVICE STAFF Drug overdose deaths increased 19 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to a preliminary analysis of data by The New York Times. Evidence suggests the problem, driven by opioid addiction, has continued to worsen this year. An influx of fentanyl and similar drugs is escalating the death count. Drug overdoses are currently the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50, the article notes. Large increases in drug overdose deaths were seen last year in Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine. In Ohio, overdose deaths rose by more than 25 percent. The New York Times came up with its estimate based on drug overdose statistics from state health departments, county medical examiners and coroners’ offices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will calculate final 2016 overdose totals in December.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Drivers Killed in Crashes More Likely to Have Used Drugs Than Alcohol

May 10, 2017 For the first time, U.S. drivers killed in crashes in 2015 were more likely to have used drugs than alcohol, according to a new study. The study found 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes in 2015 had used a legal or illegal drug, compared with 37 percent who showed alcohol levels above a legal limit, Reuters reports. Among drivers who died in crashes who tested positive for drugs, 36.5 percent had used marijuana, while 9.3 percent used amphetamines. The report was released by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a nonprofit funded by distillers. “People generally should get educated that drugs of all sorts can impair your driving ability,” said Jim Hedlund, a former official at the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, who wrote the report. “If you’re on a drug that does so, you shouldn’t be driving.” National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Substance Use Disorders Could Be Costing Your Business More Than You Think

Substance use disorders affect businesses in surprising ways. Although there are obvious signs that an employee is struggling with a substance use disorder, there are other factors affecting their workplace performance that may be less obvious. Unfortunately, a survey from the National Safety Council found that employers underestimate how prescription drug abuse affects their businesses. Employers may not realize some of the facts illuminated in the study, such as: • Employees with substance use disorders miss nearly 50 percent more days than their peers and up to six weeks of work annually. • Healthcare costs for employees who misuse or abuse prescription drugs are three times the costs for an average employee. • Getting an employee into treatment can save an employer up to $2,607 per worker annually. The survey serves as a reminder that although some employees need support, they may not ask for it. “Businesses that do not address the prescription drug crisis are like ostriches sticking their head in the sand,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “The problem exists and doing nothing will harm your employees and your business.” The National Safety Council alongside NORC at the University of Chicago and Shatterproof created a tool to show how the substance use disorder crisis can affect your workplace. The Substance Use Cost Calculator is a quick and easy way to track the potential cost of substance use disorders. Employers input basic statistics about their workforce, such as industry, location, and number of employees. The tool then calculates the estimated prevalence of substance use disorders among employees and dependents. Once you have all that information on hand, you can figure out a way to prioritize helping those who are struggling with a substance use disorder. If you are worried about addressing such a difficult problem, remember that leaders ask how they can help others and utilize subject-matter resources.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Canada announces legislation to legalize marijuana

April 13, 2017: MONTREAL — The Canadian government on Thursday announced new legislation legalizing marijuana, fulfilling one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s major campaign promises. Canada has anticipated the law will take effect in the summer of 2018. The new federal laws will make the possession of small amounts of pot legal throughout the country and will also establish broad guidelines concerning who can grow, sell and buy the drug. Many specifics regarding who can possess or sell will be left to the individual provinces. Canada legalized marijuana for some medicinal uses in 2001.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Christie Appointed to Lead White House Commission to Combat Drug Addiction

March 30, 2017 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been appointed to lead the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, the White House announced Wednesday. President Trump said he will increase drug abuse prevention and law enforcement efforts, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I made a promise to the American people to take action to keep drugs from pouring into our country and to help those who have been so badly affected by them,” Trump said in a statement. “Governor Christie will be instrumental in researching how best to combat this serious epidemic and how to treat those it has affected. He will work with people on both sides of the aisle to find the best ways for the federal government to treat and protect the American people from this serious problem. This is an epidemic that knows no boundaries and shows no mercy, and we will show great compassion and resolve as we work together on this important issue.”

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Study Finds Patients Receiving Longer Treatment for Alcohol-Drug Misuse Have Significantly Higher Success Rate

A new study suggests that the longer patients are enrolled in treatment, the better chance they have of successful recovery after treatment. The study, published in the current issue of Open Journal of Psychiatry, followed 72 patients with a variety of addiction types over the course of a year. Patients were nearly divided evenly by gender with the mean average age about 30 years old. The patients were treated for a number of chemical dependencies, including alcohol, amphetamine, benzodiazepines and opioids. Those patients undergoing an industry standard 30-day treatment program exhibited a 54.7 percent treatment success rate after one year. In contrast, patients that participated in a treatment program lasting more than 30 days experienced a success rate of 84.2 percent. The study is significant, as most private and government insurance programs only reimburse the patient for 30 days of addiction treatment. “Aftercare is crucial once an individual has completed drug or alcohol treatment and is in recovery. There is a continuity of care that should be followed once initial treatment is completed. This usually involves a lower level of treatment such as outpatient care and a sober living environment. Our study shows that the absence of such treatment after 30 days significantly reduces the chances of the patient maintaining their sobriety,” said Akikur Mohammad, M.D., lead researcher.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Percentage of Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Heroin Tripled in 5 Years

March 2, 2017 A new government report finds 25 percent of drug overdose deaths in 2015 involved heroin, triple the percentage in 2010. The National Center for Health Statistics found the percentage of overdose deaths from prescription opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone decreased to 24 percent in 2015, from 29 percent in 2010, Reuters reports. Cocaine was associated with 13 percent of overdose deaths in 2015, up from 11 percent in 2010. The four states with the highest drug overdose deaths in 2015 were West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Ohio. Overdose death rates increased for all groups, but the sharpest increase was among those ages 55 to 64.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Overdose Deaths From Fentanyl are on the Rise: What You Should Know

January 18th, 2017 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that 33,091 people died from opioid overdoses in 2015, which accounts for 63 percent of all drug overdose deaths in the same year. A recent report from the CDC found that drug deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, other than methadone, rose 72 percent in just one year, from 2014 to 2015. Last year, the death of music icon Prince was linked to fentanyl and the prescription drug has become a source of concern for government agencies and law enforcement officials alike, as death rates from fentanyl-related overdoses and seizures have risen across the country. What exactly is fentanyl? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine – but is 50 to 100 times more potent. It is a schedule II prescription drug, and it is typically used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery. It is also sometimes used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids. In its prescription form, fentanyl is known by such names as Actiq®, Duragesic® and Sublimaze®. Like heroin, morphine and other opioid drugs, fentanyl works by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions. When opioid drugs bind to these receptors, they can drive up dopamine levels in the brain’s reward areas, producing a state of euphoria and relaxation. But fentanyl’s effects resemble those of heroin and include drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, tolerance, addiction, respiratory depression and arrest, unconsciousness, coma and death. So why is abuse and misuse of fentanyl so dangerous? When prescribed by a physician, fentanyl is often administered via injection, transdermal patch or in lozenges. However, the fentanyl and fentanyl analogs associated with recent overdoses are produced in clandestine laboratories. This non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is sold in the following forms: as a powder; spiked on blotter paper; mixed with or substituted for heroin; or as tablets that mimic other, less potent opioids. Fentanyl sold on the street can be mixed with heroin or cocaine, which markedly amplifies its potency and potential dangers. Users of this form of fentanyl can swallow, snort or inject it, or they can put blotter paper in their mouths so that the synthetic opioid is absorbed through the mucous membrane. Street names for fentanyl or for fentanyl-laced heroin include Apache, China Girl, China White, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfella, Jackpot, Murder 8, TNT, and Tango and Cash. Can misuse of fentanyl lead to death? Opioid receptors are also found in the areas of the brain that control breathing rate. High doses of opioids, especially potent opioids such as fentanyl, can cause breathing to stop completely, which can lead to death. The high potency of fentanyl greatly increases risk of overdose, especially if a person who uses drugs is unaware that a powder or pill contains fentanyl. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration issued a nationwide alert in 2015 about the dangers of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues/compounds. Fentanyl-laced heroin is causing significant problems across the country, particularly as heroin use has increased in recent years. Take Action: Learn more about opioids and the risks of opioid abuse. Learn more about how to take action to prevent medicine abuse. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use or addiction, please call the Parents Toll-Free Helpline at 1-855-DRUGFREE. Sources: National Institutes on Drug Abuse, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Drug Enforcement Administration