More Older Adults Becoming Addicted to Opioid Painkillers

A growing number of older adults are becoming addicted to opioid painkillers, The New York Times reports. They are using the pills to deal with the aches and pains of aging and the anxiety that can come with retirement.

“They’ve built a fortress around themselves,” said Joseph Garbely, Medical Director of Caron Treatment Centers. “Their resources allow them to advance in their addiction without detection. So the addiction progresses.” He notes that signs of addiction such as confusion, shaky hands and mood swings are often thought to be symptoms of aging.

It can be difficult to detox older adults from prescription drugs, Dr. Garbely said. “They have to be monitored and slowly withdrawn. Opioid withdrawal won’t kill you, but you’ll wish you were dead.”

White House Concerned About Lack of Funding in Bill Aimed at Combating Addiction

The Obama Administration on Tuesday voiced concern over the lack of funding in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, The Hill reports. The U.S. Senate voted 89-0 on Monday to begin considering the measure, which would increase addiction treatment and prevention.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, a Democrat, has proposed an amendment that would provide $600 million in anti-drug spending.

CARA is sponsored by Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, a Democrat, and Rob Portman of Ohio, a Republican. The bill has bipartisan support and would expand prescription drug take-back programs and establish monitoring to prevent over-prescribing of opioid painkillers. It would expand the availability of medication-assisted treatment, including in criminal justice settings, and would support treatment as an alternative to incarceration.

Full story of lack of funding in bill for combating addiction at drugfree.org

Costs Rise for Treating Babies Born to Mothers Addicted to Painkillers

As more babies are born to mothers who are addicted to prescription painkillers, the costs related to diagnosis and treatment of these infants are rising, according to a new report.

The study looked at newborns born at a Florida hospital over three years. The researchers found about 50 to 60 percent of babies born to mothers addicted to painkillers developed symptoms and complications related to withdrawal from opioid pain medication, known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

In the first year of the study, 40 babies were born exposed to painkillers. That number rose to 57 in the second year and 63 in the third year, HealthDay reports. Babies who developed NAS stayed in the hospital an average of 23 days, compared with five days for painkiller-exposed babies who did not develop NAS.

Full story of costs treating babies born from mothers and addiction at drugfree.org

Chicago Lawsuit Alleges Drug Companies Contributed to Prescription Drug Epidemic

A lawsuit filed by the city of Chicago against five drug companies alleges they contributed to the nation’s prescription drug abuse epidemic through deceptive marketing of their opioid painkillers, Reuters reports.

“For years, big pharma has deceived the public about the true risks and benefits of highly potent and highly addictive painkillers in order to expand their customer base and increase their bottom line,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday against Purdue Pharma, Cephalon, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions and Actavis. The suit alleges the companies aggressively marketed opioid painkillers as rarely addictive, while misrepresenting the drugs’ benefits for treating common pains and concealing the risk of addiction, overdose and death.

Full story of drug companies and prescription drug epidemic at drugfree.org