Patients receive most opioids at the doctor’s office, not the ER

Around the country, state legislatures and hospitals have tightened emergency room prescribing guidelines for opioids to curb the addiction epidemic, but a new USC study shows that approach diverts attention from the main sources of prescription painkillers.

Overall opioid prescribing skyrocketed 471 percent from 1996 to 2012, according to the study by USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics and Keck School of Medicine of USC.

The share of opioids prescribed from emergency departments was small and declined during that 17-year period from 7.4 percent to 4.4 percent. The share of opioids prescribed from doctor’s offices was much larger and actually increased during that period from 71 percent to 83 percent.

Full story at Science Daily

Cocaine contributes to overdose deaths among some minorities

Drug overdose deaths are a major public health concern across all racial/ethnic groups, and are often associated with opioid use. However, a new study shows that cocaine is also a consistent contributor to overdose deaths. The research suggests that rates of cocaine-related overdose deaths in the non-Hispanic black population are similar to heroin-related deaths among non-Hispanic white women and prescription opioid-related deaths among non-Hispanic white men. The study was conducted by researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Cancer Institute, both part of the National Institutes of Health.

The authors suggest that although strategies to address prescription opioid and heroin overdoses remain critical for all racial/ethnic groups, prevention efforts focused on reducing cocaine-related deaths among the non-Hispanic black population are also needed.

Full story at drugabuse.gov

Family Can Play Lifesaving Role in Overdoses by Using Naloxone: Study

Family members can be active participants in responding to the overdose epidemic by rescuing loved ones with the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, a new study finds.

Boston University researchers studied almost 41,000 people who underwent naloxone training, and found family members used the antidote in about 20 percent of 4,373 rescue attempts. Almost all the attempts were successful, HealthDay reports.

Full story of families lifesaving role in overdoses at drugfree.org

Some Opioid-Related Deaths May be Missed When People Die from Infectious Diseases

A new government study suggests some opioid-related deaths may not be counted when people die from pneumonia or other infectious diseases that are worsened by drug use.

In these cases, the death certificate may only list the infection as the cause of death, according to the researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Full story of opioid related deaths and infectious diseases at drugfree.org

The difficult choices: Managing chronic pain while avoiding opioid abuse

Rather than being considered a miracle pill that magically takes away pain, prescription opioids are increasingly being seen as a precursor to heroin addiction and the cause of potentially deadly overdoses themselves. However, select patients do still benefit from the use of opioids in the management of chronic pain. The trick, for any prescriber, is to identify those patients who are appropriate for opioid management and to provide that therapy safely.

The first step, says Christopher J. Burnett, MD, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at the Texas A&M College of Medicine and director of the Baylor Scott & White Health’s Temple Pain Clinic, is to follow the guidelines the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released last year. “The CDC guidelines, which outline when to prescribe these drugs and provide guidance for how to do so safely, are a good starting point for providers caring for chronic pain patients,” Burnett said.

Full story of managing chronic pain and opioid abuse at Science Daily