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US Schools Switch Focus of Anti-Drug Programs to Prescription Drugs

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Anti-drug programs in United States schools are switching things up, focusing more on prescription drugs than illicit drugs and focusing more on the science of addiction than outright scare tactics.

One such program, Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education (NOPE) offers high school and middle school students education about prescription opiate painkillers. Developers of the programs emphasize the of use studies and interactive computer programs and focus on the science of addiction and how that affects the teens who abuse these drugs.

testcountry bannerHowever, it still does employ some of those old-fashioned scare tactics, although rooted in reality rather than the ridiculous fried eggs of the past. One tactic is to play a real 911 call for students from a mother who has just discovered her son’s body. His ashes sit in an urn for the students to look at as they listen to the call recording.

NOPE instructors also teach students how to recognize the symptoms of a drug overdose and emphasize the importance of quickly seeking medical attention for overdose victims. The programs also work to teach teens that prescription drugs are not safe to use other than under a doctor’s orders.

The Heroin Prevention Education program, meanwhile, uses interactive software based on the life of a recovering teen heroin addict who began abusing opioid painkillers after having his wisdom teeth removed and gradually started abusing heroin intravenously.

 

 

 

Substance Abuse

Obama Sets $100 Million in 2016 Budget To Address Prescription Drug Abuse

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In one of the biggest declarations of the federal government against prescription drug abuse, President Barack Obama’s financial budget for 2016 includes more than $100 million to be invested in programs of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The budget allocation will be granted to U.S. states that have prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) put in place.

The budget provision will complement the government’s plans to increase the number of agencies that monitor, collect and analyze data from controlled substance prescriptions, as well as provide support for the five-step Strategic Prevention Framework implemented by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Budget for the 2016 fiscal year is estimated at $27.6 billion, and strategies for drug control are included in the top priorities for the government on that year.

Despite the bulked-up battle of the U.S. government against drug abuse, not everyone is happy. A recent report from Forbes revealed that Dr. Andrew Kolodny, a chief medical officer in one of the country’s drug treatment providers, was unimpressed by the government’s plans. “The response from President Obama to this crisis is shameful… I wouldn’t mind so much that he doesn’t speak about the problem if his agencies were working together to control the problem and if he was allocating the appropriate resources. But that’s not happening,” Kolodny said.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) pegged the number of deaths due to prescription opioids in 2013 at more than 16,000, while the total number of fatalities dur to drug overdose reached almost 44,000.

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New Study Finds Most Frequent Reason for Calling Poison Centers are Prescription Drugs

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emergency room visits due to synthetic marijuanaPoisonings from prescription drugs are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, according to National Poison Control Center data from 2012.

Also topping the list was poisonings from “bath salts,” synthetic marijuana and laundry detergent pods. The paper was published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

“The poison center system can provide real-time advice and collect data regarding a variety of poisonings, including those that may be new or unfamiliar to emergency physicians,” said lead study author Richard Dart, MD, PhD, of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver, CO. “Emergency physicians are continually challenged by the emergence of new types of poisonings, which lately include illicit street drugs as well as laundry detergent pods. The National Poison Data System (NPDS) plays an integral role in helping EMS and emergency departments respond to these dangerous substances.”

In 2012, poison centers nationwide recorded 2.2 million human poison exposures. Eighty-three percent of poisonings that ended in death in 2012 were linked to a pharmaceutical product, most commonly opioid painkillers. The total number of prescription opioid exposures by children more than doubled between 2002 and 2012 from 2,591 to 5,541.

The family of designer drugs such as “bath salts” (a type of amphetamine), “plant food,” synthetic marijuana and others continue to poison users severely enough that they require emergency medical treatment. Although bath salts exposures peaked in 2011, new illicit drugs sold to consumers continue to be monitored by poison control centers.

“Poisoning continues to be a significant cause of injury and death in the United States,” said Dr. Dart. “The near real-time responsiveness of NPDS helps emergency physicians respond to new poisoning threats, while also assisting patients who call for help to know when they need the ER and when they can manage things safely at home.”

Medical Marijuana Substance Abuse

Prescription Drug Fatalities Drop In Medical Marijuana States

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Is medical marijuana the key to addressing prescription drug abuse deaths? A study conducted by a professor from Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health seems to conclude so.

prescription drug overdoseDr. Colleen L. Barry, an associate professor in the university’s Department of Health Policy and Management, released a team study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine that links lower deaths due to prescription drug abuse in states that legalize medical marijuana. “As our awareness of the addiction and overdose risks associated with use of opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin grows, individuals with chronic pain and their medical providers may be opting to treat pain entirely or in part with medical marijuana, in states where this is legal,” Barry said in a news item.

The study revealed that states where medical pot has been legalized posted a 25 percent lower mortality rate due to prescription medication overdose. The research used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between the years 1999 and 2010, which showed that the rate of fatalities arising from opioid painkiller abuse shot up within that particular time frame.

Study lead author Dr. Marcus Bachhuber from the University of Pennsylvania shared the details of the research results. “In absolute terms, states with a medical marijuana law had about 1,700 fewer opioid painkiller overdose deaths in 2010 than would be expected based on trends before the laws were passed.”

Meanwhile, the study’s proponents urged for more studies related to this topic, noting that there is a need to determine the long-term effects of medical marijuana in “both overdose deaths and the health trajectories of individuals suffering from chronic pain.”

Addiction Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Government Tightens Restrictions on Commonly Abused Prescription Drug

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Ahead of International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31st, the federal government tightened restrictions on the prescribing of hydrocodone,  the most common form of painkiller in the country.prescription drug abuse

Hydrocodone, is the most widely prescribed painkiller in the United States and is an ingredient in drugs like Vicodin.

The rule places hydrocodone in a tougher, more restrictive category. Doctors will no longer be able to call in prescriptions by telephone, and patients will not be allowed to get refills on the same prescription, but will have to return to a health care professional to get a new prescription. The drug will have to be kept in special vaults in pharmacies.

The Drug Enforcement Administration published the rule on Thursday and it will take effect in 45 days.

“This is substantial,” said Dr. Nathaniel Katz, assistant professor of anesthesia at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. “It’s a sign of a shift toward more cautious opioid prescribing. This will be an inconvenience to some, but policy is a machete, not a scalpel, and you have to figure out where to use it. I think people will be more helped than harmed.”

Abuse of painkillers now claims the lives of more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined, according to federal data, and the number of Americans who die from prescription drug overdoses has more than tripled since the late 1990s.

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Missouri Continues to Baffle Law Enforcement by Refusing to Keep Prescription Drug Database

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Missouri is the lone state in the country that refuses to keep a database of the drugs that are prescribed to patients, much to the chagrin of the people who are tasked with trying to stop the prescription drug abuse epidemic in the United States.fighting prescription drug abuse

Not having such a database hampers Missouri’s ability to combat prescription drug abuse and also attracts people from neighboring states looking to stockpile pills and bring them home to either abuse or sell to others, according to law enforcement officials, legislators and data compiled by a prescription drug processing firm.

Drug monitoring program procedures and powers vary from one state to another, but they all require doctors, pharmacists or both to enter all prescriptions into a database that can be consulted later to make sure patients do not get excess medication. In some states, checking the database is mandatory.

Missouri has been urged to put a database into effect by Missouri medical associations, members of Congress from neighboring states, the White House and even Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, the St. Louis-based manufacturer of oft-abused prescription painkiller oxycodone.

But attempts to establish one so far have been blocked by a small group of lawmakers led by State Senator Rob Schaaf, a family physician who argues that allowing the government to keep prescription records violates personal privacy.

“There’s some people who say you are causing people to die — but I’m not causing people to die. I’m protecting other people’s liberty,” Schaaf said in a recent interview in his Senate office. “Missouri needs to be the first state to resist, and the other states need to follow suit and protect the liberty of their own citizens.”

Schaaf’s opposition has come under sharp criticism from fellow Republicans, including representative Harold Rogers of Kentucky, one of eight states that borders Missouri.

“It’s very selfish on Missouri’s part to hang their hat on this privacy matter,” Rogers said. “The rest of us suffer.”

Addiction Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Prescription Drug Abuse Kills More People Than Cocaine and Heroin

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The dangers of prescription drug abuse has recently been given more weight through a new study by researchers from Canada’s McGill University.

prescription drug abuseThe research involved a comprehensive review of previous studies on the rise in fatalities caused by prescription drugs. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported about 12 million individuals who admitted to usage of prescription drugs with no prescriptions. What’s worse is that more than 16,000 fatalities caused by opioid painkillers were recorded, according to a news item.

The study, which appeared in the American Journal of Public Health June 19, browsed through medical records and existing studies from 1990 to 2013. Nicholas King, one of the study’s proponents, shared that the motivation behind the study was to provide a undeniable confirmation. “Prescription painkiller overdoses have received a lot of attention in editorials and the popular press, but we wanted to find out what solid evidence is out there,” King said.

From the study, 17 determining factors were identified to have caused the increase in the number of deaths due to prescription painkiller abuse. Some of the notable determinants include higher sales of painkiller medicines, creation of cocktail mixes (opioids mixed with drugs and/or alcohol), and other demographic-centric factors.

King and the study authors believe that knowledge of these determinants should be able to push stronger interventions and better preventive measures to minimize painkiller-related deaths.

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Opioid overdose prevention programs may reduce deaths, reports Journal of Addiction Medicine

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Community opioid overdose prevention programs (OOPPs) can improve bystander responses to overdose of heroin and related drugs, according to a review in the June Journal of Addiction Medicine.Naloxone

These programs usually involve the distribution of kits that include naloxone, a drug that can quickly reverse the effects of opioid overdose.

Based on the available evidence, “Bystanders (mostly opioid users) can and will use naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses when properly trained, and … this training can be done successfully through OOPPs,” write Dr. Christine M. Wilder and colleagues of University of Cincinnati School of Medicine.

However, more robust research is needed to determine whether OOPPs can meet the goal of reducing deaths from opioid overdose.

To get their results, Dr. Wilder and colleagues identified and analyzed the results of 19 published studies evaluating OOPPs. The training in these programs included recognition, prevention, and risk factors for overdose; and how to respond to an overdose, including naloxone administration. Naloxone was usually given by injection, but sometimes by nasal administration.

Fourteen studies provided follow-up data on more than 9,000 OOPP participants. About half of patients participating in OOPP programs had experienced an overdose during their lifetime, while about 80% had witnessed an overdose.

Eighteen studies provided data on nearly 1,950 naloxone administrations and found when naloxone was given in response to an overdose, the person giving it was usually also an opioid user.

Eleven studies reported 100% survival; the rest reported survival rates of between 83 to 96%. Two studies provided data suggesting that OOPPs were associated with community-wide reductions in opioid overdose deaths. The studies also contained information on 12 unsuccessful administrations, in which naloxone did not reverse the overdose for various reasons.

Studies suggested that OOPP training increased bystanders’ knowledge of overdose prevention and risk factors, while increasing the use of appropriate overdose strategies. Training did not seem to increase bystanders’ willingness to call EMS.

Many communities have been interested in implementing an OOPP, however, many questions remain about whether they are effective or not.

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Missed the 2014 Rx Drug Abuse Summit? Here are some highlights:

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Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Emphasized Through Billboard Campaign

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Prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs come next to marijuana and alcohol abuse in teens aged 14 and above in America.  These are commonly abused because of the wrong notion that it is safer than illicit drugs.

Image credit: 19 Action News

Cleveland city leaders recently launched a billboard campaign against prescription drug abuse.  The billboard aims to direct the community to an available hotline number for assistance, according to a news report.  It also plans to bring awareness to the general public through education, prevention programs, and tools to lessen and improve prescribing practices.

Most prescription pills that are abused are painkillers or opioids, depressants, morphines, stimulants and sleeping pills. Most of these drugs are in the tablet form and should be taken orally.  The abusers pound it and they either snort the substance or inject it directly to the bloodstream.

Prescription drug abuse has now become an epidemic.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is becoming a gateway to heroin addiction, which posts high risks to health issues.

The abuse may be done intentionally or unconsciously.  These are taken for reasons and amounts not allowed and intended by doctors. These have pleasurable effects and can be readily available. One can easily go doctor shopping to accumulate the pills.  It can cloud a person’s judgment and reasoning ability and may lead to unsafe sex, pregnancy, abortion, STDs and vehicular accidents.

Overdosing on painkillers now surpasses murders and car accidents in terms of death tolls.