The ‘burden of disease’ in those who recover from addiction

Recent research shows that more than one-third of people who are recovering from addiction continue to experience chronic physical disease.

Excessive use of alcohol and drugs can lead to mental and physical health issues, some of which include anxiety, depression, diabetes, liver disease, and heart disease.

Many of these conditions may improve after recovery, but some may linger and diminish the quality of life.

Full story at Medical News Today

Featured News: The Continuing Gaps in Coverage for Addiction Treatment

Certain insurance plans are legally required to cover benefits for addiction treatment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A new report by Center on Addiction shows that ACA Plans sold in many states in 2017 did not comply with these requirements. The report, Uncovering Coverage Gaps II: A Review and Comparison of Addiction Benefits in ACA Plans, demonstrates the need for policymakers to better implement and enforce laws that are meant to prohibit discriminatory insurance practices and ensure patients and families are able to obtain lifesaving care that is affordable.

“Most patients and their families cannot afford or receive care if it is not covered by their insurance plan. Improving insurance coverage for addiction treatment is essential to resolve the opioid crisis and move toward an approach where we finally treat addiction as the disease it is,” said the report’s author, Lindsey Vuolo, Director of Health Law and Policy at Center on Addiction.

In this Q&A, Vuolo explains how the report was compiled, what it found and what it means for families.

Full story at drugfree.org

Opioids without the risk of addiction?

Scientists are working to develop medicines that have the pain-relieving effects of opioids without the high risk of misuse and addiction. Since misuse is linked to the euphoric effects of the drug, investigators led by scientists at NIDA’s intramural labs are studying methadone, a drug used to manage opioid addiction that does not have euphoric effects as strong as many other opioids.

Animal studies show that mu opioid receptors in the brain play a key role in the reinforcing effects of opioid drugs, whereas the neuropeptide galanin counteracts the effects of mu opioid receptors. In a recently published study, investigators found a significant difference in the mechanisms of action between methadone and morphine that is determined by the activation of opioid receptor complexes (heteromers) composed of both mu-opioid receptors and one of the galanin receptor subtypes; differences that are key to their subsequent effects on the brain’s dopamine system.

Full story at drugabuse.org

Opioid Treatment Program Helps Keep Families Together

Velva Poole has spent about 20 years as a social worker, mostly in Louisville, Ky. She’s seen people ravaged by methamphetamines and cocaine; now it’s mostly opioids. Most of her clients are parents who have lost custody of their children because of drug use. Poole remembers one mom in particular.

“She had her kids removed the first time for cocaine. And then she had actually gotten them back,” she says. But three months later, the mother relapsed and overdosed on heroin.

“She had to go through the whole thing all over again — having supervised visits with the kids, then having overnights,” Poole recalls. Starting again from the bottom, the mom took steps to reclaim her life.

And, eventually, she did regain custody of her children. Poole recently ran into the woman at the grocery store.

Full story at npr.org

Many recovering from addiction have chronic health problems, diminished quality of life

Alcohol and other substance-use problems take enormous psychological and societal tolls on millions of Americans. Now a study from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Recovery Research Institute shows that more than a third of individuals who consider themselves in recovery from an alcohol or other substance use disorder continue to suffer from chronic physical disease. The study, published online March 20 in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, is the first to look at the national prevalence of medical conditions that are commonly caused or exacerbated by excessive and chronic alcohol and other drug use among people in addiction recovery.

“The prodigious psychological, social and interpersonal impact of excessive and chronic alcohol and other drug use is well characterized,” says lead and corresponding author David Eddie, PhD, research scientist at the Recovery Research Institute. “Less well appreciated is the physical disease burden, especially among those who have successfully resolved a significant substance use problem.”

Incorporating data from the landmark 2017 National Recovery Survey, the current study examined information from a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 U.S. adults describing themselves as in recovery from problems with the use of alcohol, cannabis, opioids, stimulants or other drugs. Of these, 37 percent had been diagnosed with one or more of nine alcohol- and drug-exacerbated diseases and health conditions: liver disease, tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), cancer, hepatitis C, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and diabetes. The presence of these diseases was shown to be associated with significant reductions in participants’ quality of life, and all are known to reduce life expectancy.

Full story at Science Daily