Category Archives: Addiction

Americans are drinking more heavily, especially women

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whiskey-glassBy Barbara Feder Ostrov
KHN

Whether quaffing artisanal cocktails at hipster bars or knocking back no-name beers on the couch, more Americans are drinking heavily – and engaging in episodes of binge-drinking, concludes a major study of alcohol use.

Heavy drinking among Americans rose 17.2 percent between 2005 and 2012, largely due to rising rates among women, according to the study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.

Over the course of the decade, the rate of binge drinking among women increased more than seven times the rate among men, a UW study has found.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines heavy drinking as exceeding an average of one drink per day during the past month for women and two drinks per day for men.

Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men on a single occasion at least once during the past month.

The increases are driven largely by women’s drinking habits as social norms change, researchers found. Continue reading

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Most states list deadly methadone as a ‘preferred drug’

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465px-Methadone.svgBy Christine Vestal
Stateline

The federal government has been issuing warnings about the dangers of methadone for nearly a decade.

Two years ago, states started removing it from their Medicaid “preferred drug lists.” (Joe Amon/Getty Images)

As prescription drug overdose deaths soar nationwide, most states have failed to take a simple step that would make it harder for doctors to prescribe the deadliest of all narcotics.

Methadone is four times as likely to cause an overdose death as oxycodone, and more than twice as likely as morphine, yet as many as 33 states make it easy for doctors to prescribe. 

Methadone overdoses kill about 5,000 people every year, six times as many as in the late 1990s, when it was prescribed almost exclusively for use in hospitals and addiction clinics where it is tightly controlled.

It is four times as likely to cause an overdose death as oxycodone, and more than twice as likely as morphine. In addition, experts say it is the most addictive of all opiates.

Yet as many as 33 states make it easy for doctors to prescribe the pain medicine to Medicaid patients, no questions asked. Continue reading

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Want to quit smoking? There’s an app for that!

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quit

QuitGuide is a free smartphone app that can help you:

  • track your cravings and moods,
  • monitor your progress toward achieving smokefree milestones,
  • identify your reasons for quitting,
  • identify smoking triggers and develop strategies to deal with them,
  • provide guidance on quitting smoking, and a variety of other strategies to help you successfully become and stay smokefree.

QuitGuide is a product of Smokefree.gov (SfG)—a smoking cessation resource created by the Tobacco Control Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute in collaboration with tobacco control professionals and smoking cessation experts and with input from ex-smokers.

QuitGuide provides tips to use during cravings. Use these tips to help you manage your mood and stay smokefree. To get more tips and support, you can also visit the smokefree.gov website.

 

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Overdoses due to the painkiller fentanyl prompt nationwide alert

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Alert IconFrom the US Drug Enforcement Administration

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) today issued a nationwide alert about the dangers posed by abuse with the synthetic opioid painkiller fentanyl.

The drug, which is commonly added to heroin, has been associated with a marked increase in overdoses and deaths as abuse of heroin has increased in recent years, the DEA said.

“Drug incidents and overdoses related to fentanyl are occurring at an alarming rate throughout the United States and represent a significant threat to public health and safety,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “Often laced in heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues produced in illicit clandestine labs are up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30-50 times more powerful than heroin.”

In the last two years, DEA has seen a significant resurgence in fentanyl-related seizures and last year state and local drug-testing labs reported 3,344 fentanyl submissions, up from 942 in 2013. Continue reading

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King County teen e-cigarette use is on the rise, but fewer smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol

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Map of SeattleFrom Public Health – Seattle & King County

Most King County youth are heeding public health prevention warnings about cigarette smoking and drinking and driving, according to new, preliminary results from the Healthy Youth Survey.

However, e-cigarettes use among youth is increasing.

One in five King County high school seniors reports vaping or e-cigarette use, which is double the number that smokes cigarettes. Continue reading

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Drugs: Heroin Overdose Deaths in U.S. Have Tripled Since 2010 – Bloomberg Business

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320px-HeroinMore than 8,200 Americans—an average of 23 people each day—died of heroin overdoses in 2013. That’s according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and it’s the latest evidence that the nation’s heroin problem is becoming more severe. The rate of overdose deaths in 2013, the CDC report states, is almost triple what it was in 2010.

via Drugs: Heroin Overdose Deaths in U.S. Have Tripled Since 2010 – Bloomberg Business.

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The changing face of heroin

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By Teresa Wiltz
Stateline

On Super Bowl Sunday, most football fans watched ads for Victoria’s Secret, the lost Budweiser dog and a deadpan Kim Kardashian extolling the virtues of T-Mobile. But in St. Louis, those national ads were supplemented with a different kind of Super Bowl commercial.

On screen, the camera focused on the face of a white middle class teenager as he died of a heroin overdose. Off screen, a singer crooned along to perky guitar music: First you stole prescription pills from your mom/You threw back a few and then they were gone/So you’re jonesing real bad and you need some more… And that’s how, how you got addicted to heroin. 

Beginning in the 1920s, when heroin became illegal, people tended to think of heroin abuse as a problem plaguing people of color in the big cities.

But in the past decade, heroin abuse has exploded—and it is hitting white people in suburbs and rural areas particularly hard. As the demographics of heroin use have changed, so have states’ efforts to combat the problem.

“People have recognized that (heroin addiction) is a problem facing folks they know as well as groups that are distant from them. That certainly affects the way you view the problem,” said Kurt Schmoke, who as Baltimore mayor from 1987 to 1999 was harshly criticized for his efforts to decriminalize drug use.

Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia now have laws designed to make naloxone, a heroin antidote that is 99 percent effective, more easily accessible to overdose victims, according to the Network for Public Health Law.

Since 2007, 21 states and the District adopted so-called “Good Samaritan laws” that provide some type of immunity for people calling 911 to report or seek help for an overdose.  Continue reading

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States gear up to help Medicaid enrollees beat addictions

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CocaineBy Chrisine Vestal
Stateline

Under the Affordable Care Act, millions of low-income adults last year became eligible for Medicaid and subsidized health insurance for the first time.

Now states face a huge challenge: how to deal with an onslaught of able-bodied, 18- to 64-year olds who haven’t seen a doctor in years.

“It took a lot of time and effort to enroll everyone, particularly those who were new to the system,” said Matt Salo, director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. “The next big step, and the biggest unknown, is finding out exactly how this newly insured population will use the health care system.”

In addition to increasing the number of people with health insurance, the Affordable Care Act for the first time made coverage of addiction services mandatory for all insurers, including Medicaid.

Until now, the vast majority of Medicaid beneficiaries were pregnant women, young children, and disabled and elderly adults. Relatively few able-bodied adults without children qualified, so states did not set up their Medicaid programs to treat them.

The newly insured, most of them young adults, have different needs. Though not as sick as existing Medicaid beneficiaries, the newcomers are more likely than the general population to have undiagnosed and untreated chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

The starkest difference between the new population and the old one, however, is that the new enrollees have much higher rates of drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness.

The number of Medicaid enrollees receiving addiction services is expected to skyrocket over the next two years.

Of the estimated 18 million adults potentially eligible for Medicaid in all 50 states, at least 2.5 million have substance use disorders. Of the 19 million uninsured adults with slightly higher incomes who are eligible for subsidized exchange insurance, an estimated 2.8 million struggle with substance abuse, according to the most recent national survey by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In addition to increasing the number of people with health insurance, the ACA for the first time made coverage of addiction services and other behavioral health disorders mandatory for all insurers, including Medicaid. As a result, the number of Medicaid enrollees receiving addiction services is expected to skyrocket over the next two years.

Although Medicaid and other state and federal programs historically have provided care for people with serious mental illness, coverage of addiction treatments has been spotty. Optional under Medicaid until now, coverage in most states was limited, typically just for pregnant women and adolescents.

“It’s the biggest change in a generation for addiction services,” said Robert Morrison, executive director of the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors. “Comprehensive addiction programs didn’t exist in Medicaid until now.” Continue reading

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Alcohol poisoning kills six Americans a day – CDC

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From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

whiskey-glassAlcohol poisoning deaths are caused by drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time.

This can result in very high levels of alcohol in the body, which can shutdown critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and body temperature – resulting in death.

Despite the risks, more than 38 million U.S. adults report binge drinking an average of four times per month and consume an average of eight drinks per binge.

Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men on an occasion.

The more you drink, the greater your risk of death.

Key findings of this Vital Signs report include:

  • There are more than 2,200 alcohol poisoning deaths in the U.S. each year – an average of 6 alcohol poisoning deaths every day.
  • Three in four alcohol poisoning deaths involve adults ages 35-64, and most deaths occur among men.
  • While the majority of deaths are among non-Hispanic whites, American Indians/Alaska Natives have the most alcohol poisoning deaths per million people.
  • Deaths rates from alcohol poisoning vary widely across states, from 5.3 alcohol poisoning deaths per million residents in Alabama to 46.5 deaths per million residents in Alaska.

Alcohol poisoning CDC Continue reading

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Naloxone kits for overdoses now available in Snohomish County

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Snohomish CountyNaloxone kits for treating opioid overdoses are now available at a number of pharmacies in Snohomish County.

These kits are available just by asking the pharmacists, there is no need to see a doctor to obtain a prescription.The cost of the kits is around $125.

Pharmacists will provide education to those being given a Naloxone kit on how to use it and when to use it.

In 2013 there were 86 opioid drug overdoses in Snohomish County, and 580 within Washington State.

The availability of naloxone (sold under the brand name Narcan) could potentially cut down on deaths due to heroin and prescription opioid drugs (morphine, oxycodone/OxyContin, methadone, hydrocodone/Vicodin, and codeine).  Continue reading

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Vicodin, some other pain meds will be harder to get – DEA

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Patients who use drugs containing hydrocodone as a pain reliever or cough suppressant are going to have to jump through more hoops to get them starting next month.

The Drug Enforcement Administration is reclassifying so-called “hydrocodone combination products” (HCP) from Schedule III to Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act, which will more tightly restrict access. Vicodin, for example, is an HCP because it has hydrocodone and acetaminophen.

The final regulation, which takes effect Oct. 6, will mean that patients generally must present a written prescription to receive the drug, and doctors will no longer be able to call in a prescription to the pharmacy in most instances.

Many patients with painful chronic diseases, including cancer, take hydrocodone combination products

.The regulation is a response to the widespread misuse of prescription pain killers.

In an emergency, doctors will still be able to call in a prescription, according to the new rule. And although prescription refills are prohibited, a doctor can, at his discretion, issue multiple prescriptions that would provide up to a 90-day supply.

These measures don’t satisfy consumer advocates or pharmacists who are opposed to the new rule. Continue reading

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