Prescription painkiller deaths are on the decline, while deaths from heroin are increasing, according to a new government report. The findings suggest some people may have switched from prescription medications to illicit drugs in response to laws aimed at reducing prescription drug abuse, USA Today reports.
Between 1999 and 2011, prescription painkiller overdose deaths quadrupled, from 4,030 to 16,917, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. In 2012, painkiller overdose deaths dropped 5 percent to 16,007. The findings will be released Wednesday by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the newspaper notes.
“It’s some really encouraging news after many years of really grim news,” Michael Botticelli, Acting Director of ONDCP, told USA Today. He said the findings give him hope that some government strategies to reduce prescription drug abuse have worked. These include prescription drug monitoring programs that make it harder for people to get prescriptions from multiple doctors, and crackdowns on physicians who overprescribe painkillers.
Full story of deaths from painkillers at drugfree.org
A survey of doctors in Oregon who are registered to use their state prescription drug monitoring database finds 95 percent say they consult it when they suspect a patient is abusing or diverting medication. The survey found 54 percent of doctors registered to use the database report they have made mental health or substance abuse referrals after consulting it.
Thirty-six percent said they sometimes discharge patients from their practice because of information in the database. Fewer than half say they check it for every new patient or every time they prescribe a controlled drug. Almost all doctors who use the program say they discuss worrisome data with patients.
Registered users of the state’s database were more frequent prescribers of controlled substances than non-users, Newswise reports. The survey included 650 doctors who frequently used the database, 650 who used it infrequently and 2,000 who did not use it at all.
Full story of prescription database check for doctors at drugfree.org
A new study finds children are 30 percent more likely to take drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) during the school year than in the summer.
The study found children from wealthier families who live in states with stricter academic standards are more likely to use ADHD drugs only during school months, compared with children in lower-income families in states with less strict school standards.
The findings suggest higher-income families are more likely to make their own decisions about when their child needs ADHD medications, while lower-income families tend to follow doctors’ recommendations to fill prescriptions for the drugs throughout the year, according to USA Today.
Full story of ADHD drugs during school year at drugfree.org
A new task force based in Los Angeles will fight the spread of methamphetamine, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced this week. Authorities say 70 percent of meth enters the United States through San Diego.
Six agents will investigate illegal activities involving the manufacture and distribution of meth, the Los Angeles Times reports.
“Transnational criminal organizations have made California the largest point of entry for methamphetamine into the United States,” Harris said in a statement. In March, Harris issued a report that called the trafficking of methamphetamine a growing threat to the state and a top priority for law enforcement. The report included recommendations, such as increased funding for state anti-narcotics trafficking task forces, and additional coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in combating transnational criminal organizations.
Full story of California task force to combat methamphetamine’s at drugfree.org
Treating substance abuse issues in a person with severe mental illness will reduce the risk they will commit violent acts, a new study suggests. Health professionals have disagreed about whether to treat substance abuse or mental illness first in people who are dealing with both.
While most people with mental illness are not violent, those who have severe mental illness are more likely than those in the general population to commit violent acts,HealthDay reports.
“We were surprised to find that the severity of the patient’s psychiatric symptoms was not the primary factor in predicting later aggression. Rather, the patient’s substance abuse was the factor most closely associated with future aggression,” study co-author Clara Bradizza of the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions said in a university news release.
Full story of substance abuse treatment and violent acts at drugfree.org