New opioid treatment resources for emergency department clinicians

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) today announced the availability of informational resources for clinicians interested in initiating buprenorphine treatment in emergency department settings. Buprenorphine is one of several medicines available for use in many emergency departments to treat opioid use disorders (OUD). The materials were developed by emergency department specialists at Yale University with grant support from NIDA, and contract support from NIDA’s Clinical Trials Network. NIDA is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Emergency department clinicians face unique challenges when faced with patients suffering from opioid overdoses or other effects of OUD. They can often reverse overdoses using the medication naloxone, however, that medication alone does not constitute treatment for the addiction itself. This makes the emergency setting an ideal place for clinicians to begin treatment conversations with patients, however, there have been few tools available to guide them. Since 2002, emergency clinicians have been able to administer buprenorphine to help patients manage opioid withdrawal symptoms, but the practice is still new in many emergency department settings.

Full story at drugabuse.org

Surgeon General Releases Report on Ways to Prevent, Talk About Addiction

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams released a report Thursday that recommends ways families, doctors, educators and business leaders can talk about and prevent addiction, according to The Washington Times.

The “Spotlight” report urges companies to reduce work-related injuries that could lead to opioid misuse, and encourages family members to carry naloxone and be trained on how to use it. “Be supportive (not judgmental) if a loved one has a problem,” the report advises.

Full story at drugfree.org

New wave of complex street drugs puzzles emergency doctors

At a time when drug overdoses are becoming more prevalent and lethal, a new report provides a snapshot of regional illicit drug use and, for the first time, highlights the complexity of detecting and treating patients at hospital emergency departments for a severe drug-related event.

The objective of the study, which began in 2016, was to identify illicit drugs that caused overdoses in patients at two hospital emergency departments in Maryland.

Emergency physicians were battling a spike in accidental drug overdoses and related deaths, thought to be linked to a group of designer drugs called synthetic cannabinoids that mimic the chemicals in marijuana, known on the street as Spice or K2. One doctor described “atypical overdoses,” patients with breathing difficulties and constricted pupils who responded well to the opioid overdose-reversing drug naloxone, and then required sedation for acute agitation, violence and hyperactivity, all unrelated to opiate withdrawal.

Full story at Science Daily

More Americans Should Carry Naloxone: Surgeon General

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams released a public health advisory Thursday urging more Americans to carry the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, NPR reports.

Naloxone is already carried by many first responders, such as EMTs and police officers. The Surgeon General is recommending that more people, including people at risk for an opioid overdose, as well as their family and friends, also keep naloxone nearby.

“For patients currently taking high doses of opioids as prescribed for pain, individuals misusing prescription opioids, individuals using illicit opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, health care practitioners, family and friends of people who have an opioid use disorder, and community members who come into contact with people at risk for opioid overdose, knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life,” he said in a statement.

Full story at drugfree.org

Featured News: Need for Multiple Naloxone Doses on the Rise

The percentage of people treated for a drug overdose who need more than one dose of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone is on the rise, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data from the National Emergency Medical Services Information System, and found the percentage of patients receiving multiple naloxone doses among emergency medical service (EMS) responders increased from 14.5 percent in 2012 to 18.2 percent in 2015, which represents a 26 percent increase in four years.

“We found there were 31,000 cases in which two or more naloxone doses were needed in 2015 in a prehospital setting,” said lead author Mark Faul, PhD, Senior Health Scientist at the CDC. “Of those, 4,000 cases required three doses, 1,600 required four doses, 615 required five doses and 200 cases required six or more doses.” He noted that not all people requiring multiple naloxone doses were successfully revived.

Full story at drugfree.org