National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is on April 28, 2018


The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. The DEA’s Take Back Day events provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths. The next Take Back Day is on April 28, 2018 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Need to dispose of prescription drugs before the next Take Back Day? Click here to locate a year-round authorized collector in your area.To access the 2018 Take Back Tool Box, click here  

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E-Cigarettes Cause More Harm Than Good, Study Concludes


E-cigarettes produce more harm than good, a new study concludes. The researchers say the number of adults who use e-cigarettes to quit smoking is much lower than the number of teens and young adults who start smoking regular cigarettes after trying e-cigarettes. They calculated 2,070 adult smokers who used e-cigarettes in 2014 would quit smoking regular cigarettes in 2015 and remain smoke free for at least seven years, according to Consumer Reports. They also estimated 168,000 teens and young adults who tried e-cigarettes in 2014 would start smoking regular cigarettes in 2015 and eventually become daily smokers. Overall, e-cigarette use in 2014 would lead to 1.5 million years of life lost, they estimated. “If e-cigarettes are to confer a net population-level benefit in the future, the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool will need to be much higher than it currently is,” the researchers wrote in the journal PLOS...

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Bipartisan Group of Governors Calls for More Action to Combat Opioid Crisis


Democratic and Republican governors are calling on the federal government to do more to combat the opioid crisis, The Wall Street Journal reports. Last week governors from both parties testified before the Senate Health Committee about opioid addiction in their states. A number of governors also met with White House officials about the issue. “Every single governor has it at the top of his or her list, even more than Congress because they’re seeing it,” Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who chairs the Senate Health Committee, told the newspaper. “This is the top issue for governors, and 33 are Republican,” said Robert Blendon, a health policy professor at Harvard University. “The heat [Trump] is taking is from Republican governors. They’re saying, ‘We don’t want to run in 2018 not having done a lot to open up treatment programs.’”

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White House Considers Allowing Prosecutors to Seek Death Penalty for Drug Dealers


The Trump Administration is considering allowing prosecutors to seek the death penalty for drug dealers, The Washington Post reports. One approach under consideration would make trafficking large amounts of fentanyl a capital crime. Officials are also studying tougher punishments for large-scale drug dealers that stop short of the death penalty. At the recent White House summit on opioids, President Trump suggested executing drug dealers might help solve the opioid crisis. “Some countries have a very tough penalty, the ultimate penalty, and they have much less of a drug problem than we do,” Trump said during the summit. Allowing the death penalty for drug dealers could have unintended effects, said Daniel Ciccarone, Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. “It will keep people from any positive interface with police, any positive interface with public health, any interface with doctors,” he said, adding it could lead...

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Drug Makers Pay Doctors Who Prescribe Large Amounts of Opioids, Analysis Finds


Doctors who prescribe large amounts of opioids are receiving big payments from drug makers, according to an analysis by CNN and researchers at Harvard University. The more opioids doctors prescribe, the more money they receive. Hundreds of doctors received six-figure sums in 2014 and 2015 for speaking, consulting and other services from drug manufacturers. Thousands more were paid more than $25,000. Doctors who prescribed the largest amounts of opioids were the most likely to receive payment, the analysis concludes. The researchers said it is not clear whether the payments entice doctors to prescribe more opioids, or whether the drug companies reward doctors who are already prescribing large amounts of the drugs. “I don’t know if the money is causing the prescribing or the prescribing led to the money, but in either case, it’s potentially a vicious cycle. It’s cementing the idea for these physicians that prescribing this many opioids is creating...

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Deaths Due to Drug Use Rose More than 600 Percent in 35 Years


A new study of every county in the United States finds deaths due to drug use increased more than 600 percent between 1980 and 2014. Almost 550,000 deaths were attributed to drug use over the study’s 35 years. In some counties in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and eastern Oklahoma, increases in drug-related deaths exceeded 5,000 percent, according to ABC News. The study did not distinguish between illegal and prescription drugs. Death rates decreased for alcohol use disorders, self-harm, and interpersonal violence at the national level between 1980 and 2014, the researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “To our knowledge, this study is the first at the county level to consider drug use disorders and distinguish between intentional and unintentional overdoses,” lead researcher Dr. Laura Dwyer-Lindgren of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said in a news release.

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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.” About half of patients drop out of buprenorphine programs because of administrative issues – ranging from lack of...

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Kick Butts Day Coming March 21st


Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco. The next Kick Butts Day is March 21, 2018. More than 1,000 events are expected in schools and communities across the United States and even around the world. On Kick Butts Day, teachers, youth leaders and health advocates organize events to: Raise awareness of the problem of tobacco use in their state or community;Encourage youth to reject the tobacco industry's deceptive marketing and stay tobacco-free; andUrge elected officials to take action to protect kids from tobacco. Kick Butts Day is organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The first Kick Butts Day was held in 1996. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future...

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Alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous Work as Well as 12-Step Programs: Study


A new study comparing Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to alternative mutual help groups find these groups perform about as well as 12-step programs, Vox reports. The study compared AA, the original 12-step program, with the three biggest alternative mutual help groups: Women for Sobriety, SMART Recovery and LifeRing. The researchers surveyed more than 600 people with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) who were involved in one of the groups studied. They followed up at six months and 12 months, measuring abstinence from drinking and alcohol-related problems. After controlling for several factors, the researchers concluded that these alternative groups are as effective as 12-step groups for those with AUDs. The findings appear in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. “This study suggests that these alternatives really are viable options for people who are looking for recovery support and don’t like AA for whatever reason,” said lead researcher Sarah Zemore of the Alcohol Research...

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HHS Secretary Willing to Loosen Medicaid Restrictions on Addiction Treatment


Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says he is willing to loosen Medicaid restrictions on addiction treatment, according to The Washington Post. At last week’s White House summit on opioids, Azar said he is willing to exempt more state Medicaid programs from a restriction that limits where people struggling with addiction can get treatment. Azar said he told state governors recently that he is prioritizing Medicaid waivers, which allow states to get around a federal law that bans facilities with more than 16 beds from providing addiction treatment. He said HHS has granted waivers to five states, including West Virginia and Kentucky, and he encouraged more states to apply. The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis last year recommended granting waivers to all states. “This will immediately open treatment to thousands of Americans in existing facilities in all 50 states,” the report said.

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