Drug overdose rates are rising, but can we ‘curb the epidemic for good?’

Drugs kill thousands of people in the United States and globally every year. New research may help develop more effective methods to curb the epidemic.

“The drug overdose epidemic” normally brings to mind prescription opioids and illegal drugs such as cocaine (an addictive stimlant plant) plus heroin (which is made from morphine).

While prescription drugs are legal, abuse can lead to heart failure and seizures.

Full story at Medical News Today

Drug Overdoses Killed 72,000 Americans Last Year: CDC

Drug overdoses rose 10 percent last year, killing an estimated 72,000 Americans, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

More Americans are using opioids, and the drugs are becoming more deadly as fentanyl is increasingly mixed into heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, The New York Times reports.

The CDC reported that overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl increased sharply, while deaths from heroin, prescription opioid painkillers and methadone decreased.

Full story at drugfree.org

FDA Did Not Stop Off-Label Prescribing for Fast-Acting Fentanyl Drugs

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not act to stop off-label prescribing for fast-acting fentanyl drugs, putting patients at high risk of accidental overdose and death, The New York Times reports.

The drugs are approved only for cancer patients with high opioid tolerance. They have been prescribed off-label, meaning for other purposes, to patients with back pain and migraines, the article notes. The drugs are quick-absorbing fentanyl sprays, tablets and lozenges that contain a narcotic up to 50 times stronger than heroin, and up to 100 times stronger than morphine. These drugs include Actiq, Fentora and Subsys.

Full story at drugfree.org

Featured News: Meth Use is Rising Among People Who Use Opioids

Over one-third of people using opioids in 2017 reported also using methamphetamine – more than double the rate in 2011, according to a new study.

The study included 13,251 participants in 47 states who entered a substance abuse treatment program for opioid use disorder. The researchers found past month concurrent opioid and methamphetamine use doubled from 16.7 percent in 2011 to 34.2 percent in 2017.

Concurrent meth and opioid use increased among both men and women, among whites and in those under age 45, the researchers found. Past-month meth use significantly increased among those using prescription opioids alone, heroin alone and both prescription opioids and heroin.

Full story at drugfree.org

Journal commentary addresses role of dentists in opioid crisis

Addressing the vital role of dentists in helping to alleviate the opioid crisis is the subject of a commentary, publishing today in the Journal of the American Dental Association. The commentary, authored by Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and Dr. Martha Somerman, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, both parts of the National Institutes of Health, highlights how the Institutes are working together to support scientific research for those in clinical practice.

In the late 1990s, dentists were the top specialty prescribers of opioids. Due to a number of initiatives, prescriptions by dentists dropped more than 50 percent by 2012.  However, the authors argue that more needs to be done to continue to reduce opioid misuse and abuse. The commentary discusses several ways scientific evidence can help guide clinical care decisions.

Full story at drugabuse.org