AMA Says Opioid Crisis Worsened By COVID-19

The American Medical Association put out an article this week about the opioid epidemic. Just like other public health crises, opioid addiction seems to be on the backburner. Yet people who are addicted to opioids are more vulnerable to COVID-19. In many places, both the COVID-19 crisis and the opioid epidemic are currently both causing casualties. In the state of Illinois, DuPage County has suffered 315 deaths so far this year from the novel coronavirus. But the agency also reports that there have been 303 overdoses reported in the Emergency Room this year. Last year, 96 people overdosed on opioids. But the numbers are growing for 2020. For three weeks between April and May, the county experienced 22 fatal overdoses. Fewer Resources For Addicted During COVID-19 Many of the people who overdosed in Dupage County were alone and practicing social isolation. They found that the people who overdosed had family problems, mental health issues, or a history of addiction. Isolation appeared to make things worse for the people who…

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In Delaware, 3000 People Run 5K to Raise Awareness of Addiction

More than 3,000 people rallied, ran and walked in Old New Castle, Delaware last Saturday morning to raise awareness for what organizers say is the public health crisis of this generation. Family members, friends, and people in recovery ran the annual atTAcK Addiction "Erase the Stigma 5K" is an event that attracts people personally affected by addiction. The annual race was started by parents who lost (or almost lost) their children to opioid overdose. They bonded and created a nonprofit to combat opioid abuse and addiction in Delaware. Their grassroots nonprofit helps to educate people about addiction in the community. They have a special high school just for students in recovery from addiction and they also provide addiction-related services such as support groups. AtTAcK Addiction provides services directly to people who are looking for safe sober housing. Their 5K has come to serve as a rallying moment for families new to recovery. They also provide comfort for people who have lost loved ones to overdose and want to make sure…

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How/Why Are Children Overdosing on Opioids?

Children are overdosing on opioids, but it's not something that's being mentioned often. The media often mentions the opioid epidemic regarding addiction that lands people on the streets. The current addiction epidemic is taking place in communities that house lower to middle-class residents. Few news reports tell us about the people who love the addicted that live under the roof each home. Often there are spouses, babies, children, and pets in families affected by opioid addiction. In 3 and four bedroom homes in counties across America, children are becoming victims of the opioid epidemic in depressing ways. Almost 900 children have died from opiate overdoses since 1999, according to a new study conducted by Julie Gaither, an instructor at the Yale School of Medicine. Causes of Overdoses Using numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and other data sources, they were able to discover the types of deaths children suffer through opioids. Many children accidentally took the drugs, while others were poisoned or took them recreationally. Some of the…

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Fentanyl is Officially America’s Deadliest Drug

According to a new CDC report, deadly fentanyl overdoses are now costing more lives than any other illicit drug. Fentanyl is an opioid similar to morphine, but 50 to 100 times more potent. Doctors use the drug in major surgeries and cancer treatment, but now that it’s become a street drug, drug dealers add it to other drugs like heroin or cocaine. Fentanyl was the deadliest drug in 2016 according to the CDC, but heroin and oxycodone were the most dangerous in previous years. About 29% of drug overdose deaths involved fentanyl. However, as the drug shows up with other substances, fentanyl has often become a culprit without the user themselves knowing they ingested it. Overdoses of heroin and cocaine have also gone up, which may also be thanks to fentanyl. Drug use trends aren’t getting better, either. Heroin overdoses tripled in 2016, and deadly overdoses of methamphetamines doubled. Data on Overdoses Gathering data on drug overdoses isn’t an exact science. Experts believe that even the CDC data is…

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Chinese Surgeons Treat Opiate Addiction by Removing Brain’s Pleasure Center

Doctors in China are experimenting with an extreme treatment for addiction. The experimental procedure consists of destroying portions of the brain's pleasure center in an attempt to stop cravings for opiate drugs like heroin. Possible side effects including permanently disabling an addict's ability to experience the entire range of human emotions, including the capacity to feel joy. Attempts to Ban Controversial Procedure The controversial procedure was banned by the Chinese Ministry of Health in 2004, due in part to pressure from Western media related to ethical concerns. There are also suspicions that researchers have not been truthful about results of the procedure and have exaggerated the benefits in order to be published in leading medical journals. The Ministry of Health's decision was also reported to be based on the lack of long term data about effects of the procedure. The ban on the procedure was not complete, however. Some physicians have been allowed to continue their research on the use of brain surgery to treat addiction. In 2007, the…

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Early Marijuana Use Linked to Prescription Drug Abuse

For decades, drug authorities have described marijuana as a gateway drug that can lead to abuse of more serious drugs. Although the theory has often been ridiculed, a new study conducted by researchers at Yale School of Medicine is lending credence to marijuana's role in prescription drug abuse. The study, which has been published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that teenagers who drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes or marijuana are two to three times more likely to abuse prescription drugs as young adults, with the most-abused drugs being opioid painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet. According to Dr. Lynn Fiellin, Yale associate professor and lead author of the study, previous studies have focused on the link between marijuana and illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin. This is one of the first studies to examine the connection between marijuana and prescription drugs. Dr. Fiellin and her team of researchers used data collected from young adults for the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the years…

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Opana Overtaking OxyContin as Most Abused Painkiller

Fort Wayne, Indiana, a medium-sized city of 200,000, has experienced more than a dozen pharmacy robberies since the beginning of 2012. In almost every case, the robbers were after a powerful prescription painkiller named Opana. Less well-known than OxyContin, Opana is the brand name for oxymorphone. Like OxyContin, Opana is an opiate medication that carries a high risk of abuse, dependency and overdose. Unlike OxyContin, Opana is still available in an extended-release formula that appeals to abusers who are seeking a more intense high. According to drug enforcement experts, the rising popularity of Opana can be attributed to a change made to OxyContin that makes pills harder to crush for snorting or dissolve for injecting. Individuals who are addicted to prescription drugs have a tendency to adapt according the drug availability and many are now turning to Opana to feed their addiction. States that are known for prescription drug abuse, including Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York as well as Indiana, are seeing a growth in Opana abuse. Last…

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Doctors Call for an End to Long-Term Prescriptions for Opioid Painkillers

In response to the growing problem of prescription painkiller abuse in the U.S., three California doctors are calling on their colleagues to rethink the use of narcotic prescription drugs as medication for patients who experience chronic pain.  In the U.S., opioid painkillers including OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin are now prescribed more than any other drugs.  According to the doctors, up to 20% of patient visits to physicians result in a prescription for one of these opioid drugs. Dr. Deborah Grady, Dr. Seth Berkowitz and Dr. Mitchell Katz have published their plea as an editorial in the Archives of Internal Medicine.  The doctors state that 20-40% of adults report non-cancer chronic pain and that opioids have become the most common form of treatment even though few studies are available that examine the use of these drugs for the long-term treatment of pain.  In fact, a large body of statistical evidence shows the harm these drugs can do.  According to Dr. Katz, the use of prescription opioid painkillers results in more…

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Alarming Rise in Prescription Drug Overdoses

The U.S. is currently facing an epidemic of deaths caused by accidental drug overdoses.  According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 75 people die every day from drug overdoses.  More than 90% of all poisoning deaths are attributed to unintentional drug overdoses that occur during drug abuse and due to taking too much of a prescribed medication. The number of deaths from drug overdoses more than doubled between 1999 and 2007, from about 12,000 to more than 28,000 per year.   In 2007, fatal drug overdoses were second only to motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the general population.  For those aged 35 to 54, they caused more deaths than car accidents. Most of these deaths are caused by opioid pain medications (oxycodone, methadone and hydrocodone), followed by cocaine and heroin.  The increase in deaths for prescription drug overdoses coincides with a 500% increase in the number of prescriptions for opioid pain killers being written in the past 10…

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