Meth’s Resurgence Spotlights Lack Of Meds To Combat The Addiction

In 2016, news reports warned the public of an opioid epidemic gripping the nation.

But Madeline Vaughn, then a lead clinical intake coordinator at the Houston-based addiction treatment organization Council on Recovery, sensed something different was going on with the patients she checked in from the street.

Their behavior, marked by twitchy suspicion, a poor memory and the feeling that someone was following them, signaled that the people coming through the center’s doors were increasingly hooked on a different drug: methamphetamine.

Full story at Kaiser News

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

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

Stigma continues to hamper response to opioid epidemic

Efforts to reverse the nation’s opioid epidemic remain beset by the stigma associated with drug use, a group of OHSU researchers write in a year-end review.

The stigma continues despite the fact that more than one-third of the American population used prescription opioids as of 2015, the authors report. With an estimated 60,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016 alone, the researchers emphasize the need for the American health care system to embrace medications such as methadone to treat opioid use disorder, provide addiction treatment in primary care clinics and develop non-addictive alternatives for chronic pain.

“Opioid prevention and treatment efforts in the United States remain constrained and consequently stigmatized by a legacy of federal restrictions, an unwillingness to acknowledge idiopathic addiction, and a lack of science-based interventions for chronic pain,” the authors write.

Full story at Science Daily