Starting opioid addiction treatment in the ED is cost-effective

The most cost-effective treatment for people with untreated opioid addiction who visit the emergency department (ED) is buprenorphine, a medication to reduce drug cravings and withdrawal, say Yale researchers. Their study found that among patients who came to the ED, the ED-initiated medication strategy was most likely to be cost-effective compared to referral alone or a brief intervention with facilitated referral, the researchers said.

The study was published in the journal Addiction.

Nationally, only about one in five individuals who needed treatment for opioid addiction received treatment in the past year, and fewer received the most effective treatments, such as buprenorphine. Yet studies have shown that treating individuals with such medications is effective. In an earlier analysis of this study, Yale researchers found that when patients are screened for opioid addiction, receive ED-initiated buprenorphine, and a referral for ongoing treatment, the treatment was more effective than a standard referral or brief intervention with referral.

Full story at Science Daily

Marijuana use amongst youth stable, but substance abuse admissions up

While marijuana use amongst youth remains stable, youth admission to substance abuse treatment facilities has increased, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Miesha Marzell, assistant professor of social work at Binghamton University, along with researchers at The University of Iowa, did a secondary analysis of data collected from every nationally funded substance abuse treatment facility in the United States from 2003-2013. The data covered admissions before and after major marijuana policies were enacted nationwide. The team’s analysis showed that while marijuana use amongst youth has remained relatively unchanged, admissions to substance abuse treatment facilities has increased.

“Teens were being admitted to substance abuse treatment centers across the United States, but they were not necessarily indicating that their marijuana use was at a high-risk,” said Marzell.

Full story at Medical Xpress

First secondhand smoke, now secondhand harm from drinking

It’s no secret that university life often includes alcohol use, which can sometimes cause harm. Yet harm can also extend beyond the drinker, such as “secondhand harm” that is caused by intoxicated people: accidents or domestic, physical, or sexual violence; interrupted sleep or property destruction; and arguments, problems with relationships, or financial problems. Prior research suggests that more than 70 percent of college undergraduates have experienced harm from other students’ drinking. This study examined the prevalence and types of secondhand harm among Canadian undergraduates, and whether certain personality risks for alcohol use disorder — impulsivity, sensation seeking, hopelessness, anxiety sensitivity — can predict secondhand-harm exposure.

Researchers administered an online survey to 1,537 first-year Canadian undergraduates (two-thirds of whom were women) during 2015. Problematic alcohol use was measured by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and personality was measured by the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale (SURPS). The 11 secondhand-harm choices given to students ranged from “interrupted your studies” to “sexually harassed/insulted you.”

Full story at Science Daily

Newly discovered pathway for pain processing could lead to new treatments

The discovery of a new biological pathway involved in pain processing offers hope of using existing cancer drugs to replace the use of opioids in chronic pain treatment, according to scientists at McGill University.

Because many therapeutic options, such as opioids, for patients with chronic pain carry the risk of addiction and undesirable side effects, this breakthrough offers promising lines of research into chronic pain treatment, says Luda Diatchenko, professor at McGill’s Faculty of Dentistry and co-lead author of the new study

The scientists discovered that EGFR blockers, routinely given to lung cancer patients to inhibit tumour growth, were as potent analgesics as morphine in mouse models of inflammatory and chronic pain.

Full story at Science Daily

Survey Finds Many Doctors Underprescribing Buprenorphine

Doctors are underprescribing the opioid addiction medicine buprenorphine, according to a new survey of addiction specialists.

Buprenorphine can be used to treat opioid addiction in the privacy of a doctor’s office. Doctors who prescribe the medication must have a waiver allowing them to do so. Until recently, doctors with waivers could prescribe buprenorphine to 100 patients. This year, the cap was raised to 275, HealthDay reports. More than half of the doctors with a waiver said they were not currently prescribing the buprenorphine to capacity, according to the survey, which was presented at the American Psychological Association annual meeting.

Full story at drugfree.org