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Use of alcohol, cigarettes, and a number of illicit drugs declines among U.S. teens

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Use of alcohol, cigarettes, and a number of illicit drugs declines among U.S. teens (PDF)
Source: University of Michigan Monitoring the Future Survey

A national survey of students in U.S. middle schools and high schools shows some important improvements in levels of substance use.

Both alcohol and cigarette use in 2014 are at their lowest points since the study began in 1975. Use of a number of illicit drugs also show declines this year.

These findings come from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study, which tracks trends in substance use among students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades. Each year the national study, now in its 40th year, surveys 40,000 to 50,000 students in about 400 secondary schools throughout the United States.

See also: E-cigarettes surpass tobacco cigarettes among teens (PDF)

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America’s Pain Points

December 12, 2014 Comments off

America’s Pain Points
Source: Express Scripts

America claims less than 5% of the world’s population, yet it consumes roughly 80% of the world’s opioid supply. Knowing the potential for misuse of these medications, and facing an increase in opioid-related deaths in this country, we wanted a deeper understanding of how patients in the U.S. are using these medications so we can identify additional ways to protect them from the risks associated with their use.

In A Nation in Pain, our research revealed a drop in short-term use of opioids, and stabilization in the number of patients using these medications longer term, which is in contrast to the increases seen in the past. Both trends indicate that doctors are being more cautious about prescribing these pain medications.

However, the research uncovered some concerning increases in the amount of prescription opioid medications Americans use, and the frequency in which these medications are used in dangerously high doses and in risky combinations with other medications.

FDA approves extended-release, single-entity hydrocodone product with abuse-deterrent properties

November 28, 2014 Comments off

FDA approves extended-release, single-entity hydrocodone product with abuse-deterrent properties
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Hysingla ER (hydrocodone bitartrate), an extended-release (ER) opioid analgesic to treat pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment and for which alternative treatment options are inadequate. Hysingla ER has approved labeling describing the product’s abuse-deterrent properties consistentwith the FDA’s 2013 draft guidance for industry, Abuse-Deterrent Opioids – Evaluation and Labeling.

Hysingla ER has properties that are expected to reduce, but not totally prevent, abuse of the drug when chewed and then taken orally, or crushed and snorted or injected. The tablet is difficult to crush, break or dissolve. It also forms a viscous hydrogel (thick gel) and cannot be easily prepared for injection. The FDA has determined that the physical and chemical properties of Hysingla ER are expected to make abuse by these routes difficult. However, abuse of Hysingla ER by these routes is still possible. It is important to note that taking too much Hysingla ER, whether by intentional abuse or by accident, can cause an overdose that may result in death.

Harms of prescription opioid use in the United States

November 21, 2014 Comments off

Harms of prescription opioid use in the United States
Source: Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy

Background
Consumption levels of prescription opioids (POs) have increased substantially worldwide, particularly the United States. An emerging perspective implicates increasing consumption levels of POs as the primary system level driving factor behind the observed PO-related harms. As such, the present study aimed to assess the correlations between consumption levels of POs and PO-related harms, including non-medical prescription opioid use (NMPOU), PO-related morbidity and PO-related mortality.

Findings:
Pearson’s product-moment correlations were computed using published data from the United States (2001 – 2010). Consumption levels of POs were extracted from the technical reports published by the International Narcotics Control Board, while data for NMPOU was utilized from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Additionally, data for PO-related morbidity (substance abuse treatment admissions per 10,000 people) and PO-related mortality (PO overdose deaths per 100,000 people) were obtained from published studies. Consumption levels of POs were significantly correlated with prevalence of NMPOU in the past month (r =0.741, 95% CI =0.208-0.935), past year (r =0.638, 95% CI =0.014-0.904) and lifetime (r =0.753, 95% CI =0.235-0.938), as well as average number of days per person per year of NMPOU among the general population (r =0.900, 95% CI =0.625-0.976) and NMPOU users (r =0.720, 95% CI =0.165-0.929). Similar results were also obtained for PO-related morbidity and PO-related mortality measures.

Conclusion
These findings suggest that reducing consumption levels of POs at the population level may be an effective strategy to limit PO-related harms.

Increases in Heroin Overdose Deaths — 28 States, 2010 to 2012

October 13, 2014 Comments off

Increases in Heroin Overdose Deaths — 28 States, 2010 to 2012
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Nationally, death rates from prescription opioid pain reliever (OPR) overdoses quadrupled during 1999–2010, whereas rates from heroin overdoses increased by <50%.* Individual states and cities have reported substantial increases in deaths from heroin overdose since 2010. CDC analyzed recent mortality data from 28 states to determine the scope of the heroin overdose death increase and to determine whether increases were associated with changes in OPR overdose death rates since 2010. This report summarizes the results of that analysis, which found that, from 2010 to 2012, the death rate from heroin overdose for the 28 states increased from 1.0 to 2.1 per 100,000, whereas the death rate from OPR overdose declined from 6.0 per 100,000 in 2010 to 5.6 per 100,000 in 2012. Heroin overdose death rates increased significantly for both sexes, all age groups, all census regions, and all racial/ethnic groups other than American Indians/Alaska Natives. OPR overdose mortality declined significantly among males, persons aged <45 years, persons in the South, and non-Hispanic whites. Five states had increases in the OPR death rate, seven states had decreases, and 16 states had no change. Of the 18 states with statistically reliable heroin overdose death rates (i.e., rates based on at least 20 deaths), 15 states reported increases. Decreases in OPR death rates were not associated with increases in heroin death rates. The findings indicate a need for intensified prevention efforts aimed at reducing overdose deaths from all types of opioids while recognizing the demographic differences between the heroin and OPR-using populations. Efforts to prevent expansion of the number of OPR users who might use heroin when it is available should continue.

See also: Heroin overdose deaths increased in many states through 2012

What has research over the past two decades revealed about the adverse health effects of recreational cannabis use?

October 10, 2014 Comments off

What has research over the past two decades revealed about the adverse health effects of recreational cannabis use? (PDF)
Source: Addiction

Research in the past 20 years has shown that driving while cannabis-impaired approximately doubles car crash risk and that around one in 10 regular cannabis users develop dependence. Regular cannabis use in adolescence approximately doubles the risks of early school-leaving and of cognitive impairment and psychoses in adulthood. Regular cannabis use in adolescence is also associated strongly with the use of other illicit drugs. These associations persist after controlling for plausible confounding variables in longitudinal studies. This suggests that cannabis use is a contributory cause of these outcomes but some researchers still argue that these relationships are explained by shared causes or risk factors. Cannabis smoking probably increases cardiovascular disease risk in middle-aged adults but its effects on respiratory function and respiratory cancer remain unclear, because most cannabis smokers have smoked or still smoke tobacco.

Deaths Related to Drug Poisoning in England and Wales, 2013

October 7, 2014 Comments off

Deaths Related to Drug Poisoning in England and Wales, 2013
Source: Office for National Statistics

Key Findings

  • 2,955 drug poisoning deaths (involving both legal and illegal drugs) were registered in 2013 in England and Wales (2,032 male and 923 female deaths).
  • Male drug poisoning deaths increased by 19% compared with 2012. Female drug poisoning deaths have increased every year since 2009.
  • Male drug misuse deaths (involving illegal drugs) increased by 23%, from 1,177 in 2012 to 1,444 in 2013. Female drug misuse deaths increased by 12%, from 459 in 2012 to 513 in 2013.
  • Heroin/morphine remain the substances most commonly involved in drug poisoning deaths. 765 deaths involved heroin/morphine in 2013; a sharp rise of 32% from 579 deaths in 2012.
  • Deaths involving tramadol have continued to rise, with 220 deaths in 2013. This is almost 2.5 times the number seen in 2009 (87 deaths).
  • There was a sharp increase of 21% in the number of drug misuse deaths in England in 2013, with no change to the number of these deaths in Wales. However, mortality rates from drug misuse were still significantly higher in Wales than in England.
  • Male mortality rates significantly increased in three substance categories: heroin/morphine, benzodiazepines and paracetamol. Conversely female mortality rates remained relatively stable except for a sharp increase in the cocaine-related death rate.
  • In England, the North East had the highest mortality rate from drug misuse in 2013 (52.0 deaths per million population), and London had the lowest (23.0 deaths per million population).
  • All figures presented in this bulletin are based on deaths registered in a particular calendar year. Out of the 2,955 drug-related deaths registered in 2013, 1,488 (just over half) occurred in years before 2013.
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