HHS official wants states to know the risks of pot legalization

The top HHS official in charge of preventing substance abuse called for a grassroots effort to inform states of the long-term health risks of marijuana as more states pursue legalization.

Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, assistance secretary for mental health and substance use within HHS, implored attendees at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Prevention Day event to work with states on the health risks of marijuana. Katz, who heads up SAMHSA, said that marijuana today has a higher count of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that creates its mind-altering effect, compared to 20 years ago.

“It is taking time to get attention to the issue, but you all can help with that,” McCance-Katz told the audience of addition prevention advocates and community leaders. “There has to be a huge sea change in order for this to be altered at this point.”

Full story at Modern Healthcare

How does smoking marijuana affect sperm?

With the increased legalization of cannabis, especially medical marijuana, researchers are interested in finding out more about its effects on health. One area that is currently under exploration is that of marijuana’s effect on fertility.

As recent research shows, men in Western countries are facing a fertility crisis. Sperm count in males of reproductive age more than halved between 1973 and 2011.

According to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, approximately 9 percent of men in the United States have faced infertility.

Full story at Medical News Today

Doctor-Targeted Marketing Linked With Rise in Deaths From Opioid Overdoses

Increased marketing of opioid drugs to doctors is associated with higher opioid prescribing rates and higher rates of overdose deaths, according to a new study.

Researchers found that counties where opioid makers offered doctors more meals, trips and consulting fees had higher overdose deaths involving prescription opioids, compared with counties where such marketing tactics were less aggressive, The New York Times reports.

The drug industry spent about $40 million to promote opioid medications to almost 68,000 physicians from 2013 through 2015, the study found.

Full story at drugfree.org

Cascade of Care model recommended for opioid crisi

A team of NIDA-funded scientists has offered a critical look at how to build an improved framework of care for the identification and treatment of people with opioid use disorder (OUD).

Building upon the successful Cascade of Care model developed in 2017 to manage patients with HIV and AIDS, the study authors lay out a plan to expand OUD prevention and care at the state and federal levels, while customizing services to fit the unique needs of individuals and their communities. The authors recommend a framework that encompasses four interrelated domains: prevention, identification, treatment and recovery. People at varying stages of risk and need reside at various points within that cascading framework.

Full story at drugabuse.org

Key brain area plays a crucial role in addiction

New research finds that the cerebellum, a large part of the human brain that scientists thought was primarily involved in motor control, may play a key role in reward-seeking and social behaviors. The findings may help inform future therapies for treating addiction.

Recent research has hinted at the fact that, in addition to movement, the brain’s cerebellum may also help to control cognitive functions, such as language, learning, and attention.

Now, scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY, suggest that this area could also regulate reward-processing and addiction.

Full story at Medical News Today