Fentanyl Most Commonly Used Drug Involved in Overdose Deaths

Fentanyl was involved in almost 29 percent of all overdose deaths in 2016, making it the most commonly used drug involved in overdose fatalities, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rate of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl jumped by about 113 percent each year from 2013 through 2016, CNN reports.

The total number of drug overdose deaths increased 54 percent each year between 2011 and 2016. There were 63,632 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2016.

Full story at drugfree.org

Method to identify undetected drug suicides wins top NIDA Addiction Science Award

A project that identified and tested a bioinformatics program that can help identify underreported suicides linked to drug overdoses was awarded the first-place distinction at the 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)—the world’s largest science competition for high school students. The awards are coordinated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and Friends of NIDA, a coalition that supports NIDA’s mission. The Intel ISEF Addiction Science Awards were presented at a ceremony Thursday night at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

The first place award went to 17-year old Mia Yu and 14-year old Daphne Liu from West High School in Salt Lake City for their project “Undetected Suicide: Classification of Undetermined Drug-Related Deaths Using Machine Learning Techniques.” The two students compared three machine learning models to determine how well they could identify undetermined overdose deaths as actual suicides. Using existing machine platforms, they first plugged in overdose deaths already classified as either suicide or accidental. From there, they identified the most accurate computational model. They then used that model to measure the overdose deaths listed as undetermined. Using data from the state of Utah, the machine learning technique determined that drug-related suicide deaths were underreported by 34 percent.

Full story at drugabuse.gov

Featured News: Methadone Appears Safe and Effective in Treating Fentanyl Addiction: Study

Methadone appears safe and effective in treating people who use fentanyl, suggests a study presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

“Highly potent fentanyl – often in combination with other substances including alcohol and benzodiazepines – is highly dangerous and responsible in large part for the enormous spike in preventable drug overdose deaths,” said lead researcher Andrew Stone, M.D., Medical Director of Discovery House CTC of Northern Rhode Island. “We conducted this study to see if medication-assisted treatment is effective in treating those who use fentanyl, given its unique properties and extreme potency.”

Stone and colleagues performed urine drug screens on patients admitted to a methadone maintenance treatment program over a 10-month period. Patients were screened for substances including illicit fentanyl, opiates and methadone. Those who tested positive for fentanyl when entering the program appeared to require a slightly higher dose of methadone to reach abstinence. The relapse rate for those who did not test positive for fentanyl was 15 percent, compared with 41 percent for those who tested positive. Most relapses while in treatment involved fentanyl, regardless of which substances were found in the initial drug screen. “The greater relapse rate may be due to the inability of methadone to completely block the ‘high’ users experience with fentanyl,” Dr. Stone said.

Full story at drugfree.org