Legal marijuana reduces chronic pain, but increases injuries and car accidents

The legalization of recreational marijuana is associated with an increase in its abuse, injury due to overdoses, and car accidents, but does not significantly change health care use overall, according to a study by researchers at UC San Francisco.

In a review of more than 28 million hospital records from the two years before and after cannabis was legalized in Colorado, UCSF researchers found that Colorado hospital admissions for cannabis abuse increased after legalization, in comparison to other states. But taking the totality of all hospital admissions and time spent in hospitals into account, there was not an appreciable increase after recreational cannabis was legalized.

The study, appearing online May 15, 2019, in BMJ Open, also found fewer diagnoses of chronic pain after legalization, consistent with a 2017 National Academy of Sciences report that concluded substantial evidence exists that cannabis can reduce chronic pain.

Full story at Science Daily

Drug Overdoses Killed 72,000 Americans Last Year: CDC

Drug overdoses rose 10 percent last year, killing an estimated 72,000 Americans, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

More Americans are using opioids, and the drugs are becoming more deadly as fentanyl is increasingly mixed into heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, The New York Times reports.

The CDC reported that overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl increased sharply, while deaths from heroin, prescription opioid painkillers and methadone decreased.

Full story at drugfree.org

Fentanyl Now Most Common Drug Involved in Fatal Overdoses

Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids have overtaken prescription opioids as the most common drug involved in fatal drug overdoses in the United States, according to a new report.

Government researchers found the percentage of fatal overdoses involving synthetic opioids rose from 14 percent in 2010 to 46 percent in 2016, according to NBC News. Of the 42,249 opioid-related overdose deaths recorded in 2016, the researchers found 19,413 involved synthetic opioids. Their findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Full story at drugfree.org

Text Messaging Program Could Increase Adherence to Buprenorphine Treatment

Researchers are testing whether a text messaging system can increase patient adherence to buprenorphine treatment for opioid addiction.

“We use text messaging in our society for so many things, but for something as critical as opioid treatment, we really didn’t have any text messaging system to support patients,” said lead researcher Babak Tofighi, M.D. Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Dr. Tofighi works with patients at Bellevue Hospital, many of whom do not have access to smartphones. “Text messaging can reach people at all income levels, with all sorts of phones, even basic ones,” he said. “The patient population we are targeting may not have iPhones, but they can receive texts. Even a simple reminder hopefully could increase adherence to treatment and reduce overdoses and relapses.”

Full story at drugfree.org

Deaths From Drugs, Alcohol and Suicide Reach New Peaks in Communities of Color

Deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide—known as “deaths of despair”—are increasing among blacks, Latinos and Asians, according to a new report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust.

While drug overdoses were still highest among whites in 2016, there were disproportionately large increases in drug deaths among racial/ethnic minority groups, particularly among black Americans, the study found.

Full story at drugfree.org