April is Alcohol Awareness Month


April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and this year's theme, "Changing Attitudes: It's not a 'right of passage'", is a national grassroots effort to draw attention to the many opportunities individuals, families, and communities have to educate young people on the dangers of alcohol use. Throughout April, NCADD is offering free assessments to help, along with information relating to this special event. According to the NCADD, "Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States. 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence along with several million more who engage in risky, binge drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems. More than half of all adults have a family history of alcoholism or problem drinking, and more than 7 million children live in a household where at least one parent is dependent on or has abused alcohol." Warning signs of alcohol...

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Critics of New Medicare Rule on Opioids Say It May Harm Pain Patients


Critics say a new Medicare rule that would prevent payment for long-term, high-dose opioid prescriptions could harm pain patients, according to The New York Times. The rule is designed to reduce the problem of opioids being overprescribed to elderly and disabled patients. It is expected to be approved on April 2. Opponents of the new rule, including some patients with chronic pain, primary care doctors and experts in pain management and addiction medicine, say it could force patients into withdrawal or even lead them to buy dangerous street drugs. If approved, the rule would take effect on January 1, 2019. About two dozen states and many private insurers have already put limits on opioids, the article notes.

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One in Six American Adults Binge Drink


One in six American adults—37 million—binge drink about once a week, a new study finds. They average seven drinks per binge, HealthDay reports. In 2015, American adults consumed more than 17 billion binge drinks, according to the researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “This study shows that binge drinkers are consuming a huge number of drinks per year, greatly increasing their chances of harming themselves and others,” study co-author Dr. Robert Brewer said in a CDC news release. “The findings also show the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to prevent binge drinking, focusing on reducing both the number of times people binge drink and the amount they drink when they binge.” The findings appear in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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Dr. Nora Volkow: What Does It Mean When We Call Addiction a Brain Disorder?


The following blog is reprinted in part from the National Institute on Drug Abuse Informed Americans no longer view addiction as a moral failing, and more and more policymakers are recognizing that punishment is an ineffective and inappropriate tool for addressing a person’s drug problems. Treatment is what is needed. Fortunately, effective medications are available to help in the treatment of opioid use disorders. Medications cannot take the place of an individual’s willpower, but they aid addicted individuals in resisting the constant challenges to their resolve; they have been shown in study after study to reduce illicit drug use and its consequences. They save lives. Yet the medical model of addiction as a brain disorder or disease has its vocal critics. Some claim that viewing addiction this way minimizes its important social and environmental causes, as though saying addiction is a disorder of brain circuits means that social stresses like loneliness,...

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DEA Says Tracking of Opioids From Manufacturers to Pharmacies Has Improved


The acting chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) told the House Energy and Committee this week the agency is doing a better job of tracking the flow of opioid painkillers from manufacturers to pharmacies, The Washington Post reports. Robert Patterson told the committee the database that monitors the flow of opioid painkillers, known as ARCOS, used to be compiled manually. The DEA has computerized the database, which gives the agency a better sense of how many pills are being shipped. The agency can also analyze data from state prescription drug-monitoring programs and the Department of Health and Human Services. Patterson said the modernization of ARCOS is allowing the agency to use it in a “much more proactive manner” than in the past.

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One-Third of Young Adults Have Ridden With Driver Impaired by Alcohol or Drugs


One-third of young adults who recently graduated from high school say they have ridden with a driver impaired by alcohol or drugs in the past year, according to a new study. Young adults said they were more likely to ride with a marijuana-impaired driver than an alcohol-impaired driver, HealthDay reports. “We’ve put a lot of emphasis on drinking and driving, but less effort on driving under the influence of marijuana. Maybe we need more of the latter,” study lead author Kaigang Li of Colorado State University said in a news release. The findings are published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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Increase in Street Drug Laced With Bug Spray Reported in Indiana


Indianapolis authorities are reporting an increase in overdoses of a street drug known as KD, which is laced with bug spray. The drug produces zombie-like effects, according to U.S. News & World Report. People are creating the drug by spraying heavy-duty bug sprays such as Raid, which have high concentrations of pesticides called pyrethroids, on substances such as marijuana and tobacco. KD is highly addictive, and even a small dose can be dangerous, the authorities warn. The drug can cause the inability to walk, breathe or speak. People using the drug appear to be in a catatonic state, the article notes. Dr. Daniel Rusyniak of the Indiana Poison Center told WRTV-TV a big concern about KD is the easy accessibility of bug spray. “They no longer have to drive to a shady street corner,” he said. “They can get on the internet and they can order this and it can be...

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Trump Includes Death Penalty for Drug Dealers in Plan to Fight Opioid Crisis


President Trump this week announced new plans to fight the opioid crisis, including a proposal to seek the death penalty for drug dealers, NBC News reports. The plans also include launching a nationwide campaign to raise public awareness about the dangers of prescription and illicit opioid use, as well as other drug use, according to a White House fact sheet. Trump called for increased border security to combat the flow of drugs into the United States. The opioid initiative will “support research and development efforts for innovative technologies and additional therapies designed to prevent addiction and decrease the use of opioids in pain management,” according to the statement.

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NIH Alcohol Consumption Research Project Might Have Been Compromised


The New York Time recently published an article reporting that lead researchers on a $100 million study of the effects of moderate alcohol consumption had extensive discussions with the alcohol industry prior to securing their sponsorship. The article noted that scientists and officials from the National Institute of Health (NIH) undertook a campaign to “obtain funding from the alcohol industry for research that may enshrine alcohol as a part of a healthy diet.” A few days later, the New York Times followed up its initial story by reporting that NIH is now investigating “whether health officials violated federal policy against soliciting donations when they met with alcohol companies to discuss funding a study of the benefits of moderate drinking.” The Times reports that Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D, NIH Director will assemble a group of outside experts to “review the design and scientific methodology of the 10-year government trial, which is...

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During Binges, U.S. Adults Have 17 billion Drinks a Year


U.S. adults consumed more than 17 billion binge drinks in 2015, or about 470 binge drinks per binge drinker, according to a first-of-its-kind study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. CDC researchers found that 1 in 6, or 37 million, adults binge drink about once a week, consuming an average of seven drinks per binge. Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in about two hours. “This study shows that binge drinkers are consuming a huge number of drinks per year, greatly increasing their chances of harming themselves and others,” said study co-author Robert Brewer, M.D., M.S.P.H., lead researcher in CDC’s alcohol program. “The findings also show the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to prevent binge drinking, focusing on reducing both the number of...

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