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

Why the marijuana and tobacco policy camps are on very different paths

The regulatory approaches to marijuana and tobacco in the United States are on decidedly different paths and, according to researchers from the U.S. and Australia, neither side appears interested in learning from the other.

“The two policy communities have shown very little interest in each other’s policy debates,” Wayne Hall and Lynn Kozlowski write in a new paper published in the journal Addiction.

Hall, the lead author, is a professor at the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland, Australia, and is an expert on marijuana and other drug use issues. Kozlowski is professor of community health and health behavior in the University at Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions and an expert on tobacco use and control.

Full story of marijuana and tobacco policy camps at Science Daily

Bill Would Create Tough New Penalties for People Caught With Synthetic Opioids

Two senators on the Judiciary Committee are preparing a bill that would create tough new penalties for people caught with synthetic opioids, NPR reports.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who have supported reducing some drug sentences, are preparing the new bill. Grassley is the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Feinstein is the committee’s ranking member.

Full story of new penalties for synthetic opioids at drugfree.org

Oxytocin reduces cravings for methamphetamine

Many people have suggested that addiction hijacks the body’s natural drives in the service of compulsive drug use. A new study now suggests that hijacking another natural system in the brain may help overcome drug addiction. Published in Biological Psychiatry, the study shows that administration of oxytocin — a naturally occurring molecule well known for its role in social bonding and childbirth — reduces drug-seeking behavior in methamphetamine-addicted rats.

“There are virtually no pharmacotherapeutics for methamphetamine addiction, a chronically relapsing disease that destroys many lives,” said first author Dr. Brittney Cox, now at the University of California Irvine. “Our results are important because they support development of novel, oxytocin-based therapeutics for methamphetamine abuse in humans.”

Full story of oxytocin and methamphetamine cravings at Science Daily

Studying children at increased risk of suicide

Teenagers injured through drinking, drug abuse or self-harming have a five-fold increased risk of dying from suicide in the next decade.

Children and young people admitted to hospital in England with injuries related to self-harming, drugs or alcohol faced an increased risk of killing themselves over the following 10 years, according to new research.

While previous studies have shown that children and adolescents who self-harm are at a higher risk of suicide, the paper by academics from UCL and the University of Leeds, argues that the risks apply to a larger group of adolescents.