Preference for fentanyl higher among young, white, frequent opioid users

A minority of people who use illicit opioids indicated a preference for fentanyl, the super-potent synthetic opioid that accounts for much of the recent rise in U.S. overdose deaths, according to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The study, based on surveys of 308 people who use opioids in Baltimore, Maryland; Boston, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island, found that 27 percent indicated a preference for opioids containing fentanyl, and that people who prefer fentanyl are more likely to be younger, white, and daily users. The median age of those who prefer fentanyl was 38 years compared to 45 years for those who don’t prefer fentanyl. Fifty-nine percent of fentanyl preferers identified as non-Hispanic white, compared to only 29 percent among the non-preferers.

The study, published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Independence, is thought to be the first to characterize fentanyl-preferring opioid users.

Full story at Science Daily

Fentanyl Most Commonly Used Drug Involved in Overdose Deaths

Fentanyl was involved in almost 29 percent of all overdose deaths in 2016, making it the most commonly used drug involved in overdose fatalities, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rate of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl jumped by about 113 percent each year from 2013 through 2016, CNN reports.

The total number of drug overdose deaths increased 54 percent each year between 2011 and 2016. There were 63,632 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2016.

Full story at drugfree.org

Newly Approved Opioid 10 Times Stronger Than Fentanyl

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new opioid painkiller that is 10 times stronger than fentanyl, USA Today reports.

The drug, Dsuvia, is also 1,000 times more potent than morphine. It will be restricted to limited use only in health care settings, such as hospitals, emergency rooms and surgery centers. Dsuvia comes in tablet form, in a single-use package.

Critics say the drug could fuel the opioid epidemic. While an FDA advisory committee recommended approval of Dsuvia last month, the committee’s chair voiced his opposition, HealthDay reports. Dr. Raeford Brown, a professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics at the University of Kentucky, urged the FDA to reject the opioid.

Full story at drugfree.org

Pain isn’t just physical—why many are using painkillers for emotional relief

Australians are increasingly using prescription or over-the-counter painkillers to ease emotional, rather than physical, pain. Our cultural understanding of pain is changing, and as a result it’s becoming more difficult to distinguish intoxication from relief.

In my recently published book A Fine Line: Painkillers and Pleasure in the Age of Anxiety, interviewees who used painkillers non-medically said they did so mainly to ease forms of suffering they acknowledge may not be medically defined as pain. Yet they experienced them as “painful”.

The US is currently going through what many term an “opioid epidemic”, while more than 1,000 Australians died of an opioid overdose in 2016, with 76% of these deaths related to prescription opioids. Recently, the ABC reported that the high-dose opioid patch fentanyl has fuelled an opioid dependence crisis in regional Australia.

Full story at Medical Xpress

Crack Cocaine Increasingly Laced With Fentanyl

A Philadelphia hospital is reporting a spike in the number of patients who are being treated in the emergency room for overdoses from crack cocaine laced with fentanyl. Experts say fentanyl is being mixed with a number of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and ketamine.

In a recent four-day period, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania treated 18 patients for an apparent overdose of crack cocaine laced with fentanyl, HealthDay reports. Three of the patients died from their overdose, the researchers report in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.

Full story at drugfree.org