Study Finds 75% Rise in Heroin Use in Whites Who Abuse Prescription Opioids

A new study finds heroin use among people who abuse prescription opioids has risen, particularly among whites.

From 2008 to 2011, the study found a 75 percent increase in heroin use among whites who abuse painkillers such as OxyContin or Vicodin, HealthDay reports.

Researchers from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health analyzed data from 67,500 people who answered questions about their heroin use.

Full story of rise in heroin use at drugfree.org

Giving Addicted Patients Buprenorphine in the ER Works Better Than Referrals: Study

Giving buprenorphine to patients addicted to opioids who are treated in the emergency room is more effective than simply providing them with a referral, a new study finds. Patients given buprenorphine were less likely to need in-patient treatment at a residential facility, HealthDay reports.

Buprenorphine helps control drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The study included 300 people who came to the emergency department (ED) for treatment related to prescription opioid or heroin use. The researchers compared three treatments for opioid addiction. One group received a list of available services, a second group received a motivational consultation and a referral, and the third group received a brief intervention and treatment with buprenorphine, which was continued in primary care.

“The patients who received ED-initiated medication and referral for ongoing treatment in primary care were twice as likely as the others to be engaged in treatment 30 days later,” lead researcher Gail D’Onofrio said in a news release. “They were less likely to use illicit opioids of any kind.”

Full story of Buprenorphine to addictive patients at drugfree.org

Tennessee Governor Unveils Plan to Tackle Prescription Drug Abuse

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam this week announced a plan designed to stop prescription drug abuse in the state, WCYB reports.

More than 200,000 people in Tennessee have used prescription opioids in the past year for non-medical purposes, according to the state’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. About 69,000 are addicted to opioids, the article notes.

Full story of Tennessee Governor on prescription drug abuse at drugfree.org

Heroin Users Are Older, Whiter, More Suburban Than in the Past: Study

Heroin users are much more likely to be older, whiter and suburban compared with 50 years ago, a new study concludes. They are almost evenly split between men and women, The Washington Post reports. Fifty years ago, 83 percent of those seeking treatment for heroin use were men.

In 2010, three-quarters of people who used heroin did so after abusing prescription opioids, the researchers wrote in JAMA Psychiatry. In the 1960s, more than 80 percent of people seeking treatment said heroin was the first opioid they had used. The findings come from a survey of patients in 150 treatment programs around the nation.

Full story of demographic heroin users at drugfree.org