More pregnant women are using meth and opioids, study finds

Amphetamine and opioid use in pregnancy increased substantially over the last decade in the United States, a new Michigan Medicine-led study finds. And a disproportionate rise occurred in rural counties.

Among pregnant women in all parts of the country, amphetamine-affected births (mostly attributed to methamphetamine) doubled — from 1.2 per 1,000 hospitalizations in 2008-2009 to 2.4 per 1,000 delivery hospitalizations by 2014-2015, the new research finds.

The rate of opioid use also quadrupled from 1.5 per 1,000 delivery hospitalizations in 2004-2005 to 6.5 per 1,000 delivery hospitalizations in 2014-2015, according to the findings published in the American Journal of Public Health. The study sample included about 47 million deliveries occurring in U.S. hospitals over the 12-year-period.

Full story at Science Daily

Addiction Treatment Gap Is Driving A Black Market For Suboxone

Months in prison didn’t rid Daryl of his addiction to opioids. “Before I left the parking lot of the prison, I was shooting up, getting high,” he says.

Daryl has used heroin and prescription painkillers for more than a decade. Almost four years ago he became one of more than 200 people who tested positive for HIV in a historic outbreak in Scott County, Ind. After that diagnosis, he says, he went on a bender.

But about a year ago, Daryl had an experience that made him realize he might be able to stay away from heroin and opioids. For several days, he says, he couldn’t find drugs. He spent that time in withdrawal.

“It hurts all over. You puke, you get diarrhea,” Daryl says.

Full story at npr.org

Newborn opioid withdrawal requires a ‘cascade of care,’ study suggests

Effective management of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) — withdrawal symptoms occurring in infants exposed to opioids in utero — requires a coordinated “cascade of care” from prevention through long-term follow-up, reports a study in Advances in Neonatal Care, official journal of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.

Based on interviews with frontline providers caring for infants affected by NAS, the researchers identify four essential areas to improve care for this increasingly common complication of opioid use. “Greater resources, coordination, and cross-disciplinary education are urgently needed across the cascade of care to effectively address NAS,” write Jennifer L. Syvertsen, PhD, MPH, of the University of California, Riverside and colleagues at the University of Southern California.

Critical Areas to Improve Care for Infants Exposed to Opioids

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) can result from legally prescribed opioid medications, misuse of prescription opioids, illicit drugs such as heroin, or medication-assisted therapy to treat opioid use disorders, including Suboxone or methadone. Infants exposed to any of these forms of opioids during gestation are at risk of NAS, developing signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal after birth. Timely and effective care can lower the impact and costs of NAS. However, standardized care and treatment resources are often lacking, both for women and their infants affected by NAS.

Full story at Science Daily

Drug overdose epidemic has been growing exponentially for decades

Death rates from drug overdoses in the U.S. have been on an exponential growth curve that began at least 15 years before the mid-1990s surge in opioid prescribing, suggesting that overdose death rates may continue along this same historical growth trajectory for years to come, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health analysis published today in Science.

The type of drug and the demographics of those who die from overdoses has fluctuated over the years. When the use of one drug waned, a new drug filled in, attracting new populations from different geographic regions at faster rates. These findings suggest that, to be successful, prevention efforts must extend beyond control of specific drugs to address deeper factors driving the epidemic.

“The current epidemic of overdose deaths due to prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl appears to be the most recent manifestation of a more fundamental, longer-term process,” said senior author Donald S. Burke, M.D., Pitt Public Health dean and UPMC-Jonas Salk Chair of Global Health. “Understanding the forces holding these multiple individual drug epidemics together in a tight upward exponential trajectory will be important in revealing the root causes of the epidemic, and this understanding could be crucial to prevention and intervention strategies.”

Full story at Science Daily

Opioid users could benefit from meth-relapse prevention strategy, study finds

New research raises the possibility that a wider group of people battling substance use disorders may benefit from a Scripps Research-developed relapse-prevention compound than previously thought.

The research, published recently in the journal Learning and Memory, shows that the compound appears to be effective even if multiple drugs of abuse are involved, such as methamphetamine in combination with either opioids or nicotine. Polysubstance use is common among people addicted to methamphetamine, in part because the rate of smoking is high among meth users. In addition, the meth available today is so potent that many users turn to opioids to dampen the high.

The potential medication, a modified form of the compound blebbistatin, works by breaking down methamphetamine-linked memories that can trigger craving and relapse. The opportunity to boost treatment success by modulating emotional memory is a novel concept, and a promising one, says Courtney Miller, PhD, associate professor on the Florida campus of Scripps Research and senior author of the study.

Full story at Science Daily