Featured News: Number of Inmates With Meth Addiction Jumps in Rural Jails

The proportion of inmates in jails with a moderate to severe stimulant use disorder—including addiction to methamphetamine—has surged in recent years, a study presented at the recent American Society of Addiction Medicine annual meeting suggests.

The study of inmates in two jails in rural North Carolina found over seven times more inmates with a substance use disorder met criteria for addiction to stimulants, including methamphetamine, in 2016 compared with 2008.

“These findings confirm anecdotal reports we were hearing from county sheriffs and correctional officers that they had noticed a considerable increase in meth-related crimes and meth lab seizures in rural areas,” said lead researcher Dr. Steven Proctor, Senior Research Professor and Associate Director of the Institutional Center for Scientific Research at Albizu University in Miami, Florida. “We don’t know whether a change in crime prevention strategy is driving law enforcement to prioritize meth-related crimes, leading to more arrests of people with stimulant use disorders, or whether increased use of meth is leading to an increase in meth-related crimes.”

Full story at drugfree.org

People who use medical marijuana more likely to use and misuse other prescription drugs

Can medical marijuana help to fight the opioid epidemic? Many believe that it can. But a new study finds that people who use medical marijuana actually have higher rates of medical and non-medical prescription drug use — including pain relievers. The study appears in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, the official journal of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), published by Wolters Kluwer.

Rather than being at lower risk, people who use medical marijuana may be at higher risk for non-medical prescription drug use, suggests the study by Theodore L. Caputi, BS of University College Cork’s School of Public Health and Keith Humphreys, PhD, of Stanford University. However, an accompanying commentary questions whether medical cannabis is the cause of higher prescription drug use, or whether other factors explain the association.

Full story at Science Daily

New consensus document for appropriate use of drug testing in clinical addiction medicine

A new Consensus Document from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) provides practical, evidence-based recommendations on the use of drug testing for identification, diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of patients with or at risk for substance use disorders (SUDs). The document appears in the May/June issue of the Journal of Addiction Medicine, the official journal of ASAM. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

“Drug testing is a valuable tool for supporting patients in addiction treatment, and this comprehensive set of recommendations should prove useful to providers in a variety of addiction treatment settings,” comments Margaret Jarvis, MD, DFASAM, Chair of ASAM’s Quality Improvement Council. The Consensus Document and supplemental digital content are available on Journal of Addiction Medicine and ASAM websites.

Full story of new drug testing for SUDs at Science Daily

‘Alarmingly high’ risk of death for people with opioid use disorder in general medical care

Almost one-fifth of patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) in a large healthcare system died during a four-year follow-up period, reports a study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, the official journal of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

The results suggest very high rates of serious illness and death among patients with OUD in general medical care settings — much higher than for those in addiction specialty clinics, according to by Yih-Ing Hser, PhD, of University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues. They write, “The alarmingly high morbidity and mortality among OUD patients revealed in the present study challenge healthcare systems to find new and innovative ways to expand evidence-based strategies for OUD in a variety of settings.”

Full story of death risk for opioid users in general medical care at Science Daily

Cigna and Addiction Specialists Team Up to Study Which Treatments are Working

The health insurance company Cigna is teaming up with the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) to study which substance abuse treatments are effective, Forbes reports.

The company will provide two years of medical claims data to ASAM, who will work with health researchers at Brandeis University to test and validate which treatments are working. All patient names have been removed to ensure confidentiality.

The results could be used to develop guidelines for Cigna and other health insurers to establish protocols for doctors and other mental health providers, the article notes.

“When it comes to substance abuse, there are not clear guidelines,” said Dr. William Lopez, Cigna’s Senior Medical Director for Behavioral Health. “Our position is that we want to individualize the treatments and by having some guidelines that are more holistic, we will attain that goal. We want to move from volume to value.”

Full story of Cigna and ASAM studying substance abuse treatments at drugfree.org