Addiction Experts Warn Republican Health Care Plan Will Deepen Opioid Crisis

The Republican health care plan, which would roll back the Affordable Care Act and reduce or terminate health coverage for millions of Americans, will deepen the nation’s opioid crisis, addiction experts tell the Los Angeles Times.

“It would essentially write off a generation,” said Dr. Shawn Ryan, President of BrightView Health, a network of drug treatment clinics in Cincinnati. “It would be catastrophic.”

Full story of Republican health care plan and opioid crisis at drugfree.org

Rates of marijuana use, heavy use, and cannabis use disorder depend on where you live

Adult marijuana use rose significantly in states that passed loosely regulated medical marijuana laws (MMLs) according to a new study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Medical Center. Highest increases were reported among adults ages 26 and over. Little change was found in past-month marijuana use among adolescents or young adults between the ages 18 and 25. The findings are published online in the journal Addiction.

Adults 26 years of age and older living in states with less regulated medical marijuana programs increased past-month marijuana use from 4 percent to 6.59 percent after the laws were enacted. No significant change was found in the prevalence of cannabis use disorder among adolescents or adults after states enacted medical marijuana laws, regardless whether programs were highly regulated or “loose.”

Using data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health from 2004-2013 the researchers analyzed trends over time with particular emphasis on age groups. This included obtaining prevalences of marijuana use outcomes at the state level by year and whether the enacted laws included a highly regulated (“medicalized”) or less regulated (“non-medical”) program. Participants were classified as having marijuana abuse or dependence based on DSM-IV criteria.

Full story of marijuana use rates depending on location at Science Daily

Medications underutilized when treating young people with opioid use disorder

Only one in four young adults and teens with opioid use disorder (OUD) are receiving potentially life-saving medications for addiction treatment, according to a new Boston Medical Center (BMC) study published online in JAMA Pediatrics.

Buprenorphine and naltrexone are medications used to treat OUD that help prevent relapse and overdose when used appropriately. In late 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended, for the first time, that providers offer medication treatment to adolescents with OUD.

Prior studies have shown that among all adults in treatment for opioids, one-third started using opioids before age 18, and two-thirds started before age 25. Unlike methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone can be offered in the primary care setting. However, few teens receive medication due, in part, to a widespread shortage of physicians who have received a waiver certification required to prescribe buprenorphine. And, as researchers note, of all of the physicians who are certified in the United States, only one-percent are pediatricians.

Full story of treating young people with opioid use disorder at drugfree.org

Cost of Heroin Use in the U.S. Tops $51 Billion

The total cost of heroin use in the United States reached more than $51 billion in 2015, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The cost estimate includes heroin-related crime and imprisonment, as well as addiction treatment and chronic infectious diseases contracted through heroin use, such as HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis B and C, HealthDay reports. Other costs include treating newborns with heroin-related medical conditions, overdose deaths and lost productivity on the job.

Full story of cost of heroin use in the United States at drugfree.org

Wearable sensor helps people keep tabs on drinking

Electrical engineers are creating a wearable sensor to help people manage their alcohol intake.

Activity trackers monitor your steps; this innovative sensor measures your blood alcohol level. Worn like a watch, this sensor picks up vapors from the skin and sends the data to a server. If the alcohol reading is high, via an app, a designated loved one gets an alert to check in on the user. This easy-to-wear gadget will help address issues with social drinking and addiction.

“We wanted to create an unobtrusive sensor that would be easy to wear, and help people struggling with alcohol,” said the inventor, Shekhar Bhansali, an Alcatel Lucent professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “This is one step toward active intervention that only requires the user wear the sensor.”

Full story of wearable sensors to manage alcohol intake at Science Daily