Cocaine Deaths on the Rise Among Black Americans


Cocaine deaths are increasing, particularly among non-Hispanic black Americans, The New York Times reports. Cocaine, the number-two killer among illegal drugs, claims the lives of more black Americans than heroin does, the article notes. A recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found between 2012 and 2015, the death rate from cocaine overdoses was 7.6 per 100,000 among black men, compared with 5.45 per 100,000 for heroin. Cocaine overdoses exceeded those from heroin among black women as well. “We have multiple drug problems in the U.S.,” said Keith Humphreys, a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine who advises governments on drug prevention and treatment policies. “We need to focus on more than one drug at a time.”

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Growing Number of Children End Up in ICU After Overdosing on Opioids


A new study finds a significant and steady increase in the number of children in the United States who are admitted to pediatric intensive care units (PICUs) after swallowing opioids. The increase occurred across all age groups, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics. The opioid-related PICU admission rate increased 39 percent from 2004 to 2015, HealthDay reports. The majority of these patients were ages 12 to 17, but a third of patients were younger than 6. “What concerns us is the rate that PICU admissions are increasing over time, which is in contrast to adult data that suggest we have reached a plateau in hospitalization for opioid overdose,” lead researcher Dr. Jason Kane of the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital said in a news release. “As more opioids are being prescribed in the community, children are becoming ‘second victims’ of the opioid epidemic.”

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ERs Report Opioid Overdoses Jumped 30 Percent in One Year


Hospital emergency rooms reported a 30 percent jump in opioid overdoses between the third quarter of 2016 and the third quarter of 2017, according to NPR. The largest increase in overdoses occurred in the Midwest, which saw a 69.7 percent increase. In Wisconsin, opioid overdoses increased 109 percent. The smallest increase occurred in the Southeast, which saw a 14 percent increase. The findings come from a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “We have an emergency on our hands,” said acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat. “The fast-moving opioid overdose epidemic continues and is accelerating. We saw, sadly, that in every region, in every age group of adults, in both men and women, overdoses from opioids are increasing.” Schuchat noted the report could underestimate the total number of overdoses, because many people who overdose do not end up in the emergency room.

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What Influences Transition from Prescription Opioid Misuse to Injection Drug Use?


A new study finds there are no significant differences between young adults who misuse prescription opioids and those who inject heroin, except for the amount of time they have used drugs. The study of young adults in rural upstate New York found on average, it took four to five years between the time a young person started using prescription opioids and the time they started to inject drugs. “Unless they receive treatment, in another year or two it’s likely those who are misusing prescription opioids are on a trajectory to start injecting,” said lead researcher Holly Hagan PhD, MPH, RN, Professor at the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and co-director of the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research. “We have to figure out how to intervene now to help these young people with their substance use problem.” Most of the young adults in the study who were in treatment...

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Americans Urged to Dispose of Unused Rx This Weekend


With 174 Americans dying every day from drug overdoses, Addiction Policy Forum is urging everyone to clean out their medicine cabinets when they turn the clocks ahead this Sunday. The organization is promoting the safe disposal of unused prescription drugs by giving away disposal kits at events across the country and online. For a list of events and to order a free disposal kit, visit According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), nearly one-third of people ages 12 and over who used drugs for the first time began by using a prescription drug for non-medical reasons. Over 11.5 million Americans misused prescription painkillers in the last year1 and every day 2,000 teenagers misuse prescription drugs for the first time.2  The addiction epidemic is currently impacting more than 21 million American families. "Everyone can do their part by getting rid of unused prescription drugs in a safe way....

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Deaths From Benzodiazepine Overdoses on the Rise


Deaths from overdoses of prescription sedatives known as benzodiazepines—including Xanax and Valium—are on the rise, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine. According to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines increased from 1,135 in 1999, to 8,791 in 2015. Benzodiazepines are prescribed to treat conditions including anxiety, insomnia and seizures. Overdoses have increased in the past decade, as the number of prescriptions for these drugs has increased, HealthDay reports. Prescriptions for benzodiazepines rose by 67 percent between 1996 and 2013, from 8.1 million to 13.5 million. “These are highly addictive and potentially lethal drugs, and many people don’t know that,” lead author Dr. Anna Lembke of the Stanford University School of Medicine said. “Sadly, most physicians are also unaware of this and blithely prescribe them without educating their patients about the risk of addiction.”  

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Creating Healthy Habits


We know that making healthy choices can help us feel better and live longer. Maybe you’ve already tried to eat better, get more exercise or sleep, quit smoking, or reduce stress. It’s not easy. But research shows how you can boost your ability to create and sustain a healthy lifestyle. “It’s frustrating to experience setbacks when you’re trying to make healthy changes and reach a goal,” says NIH behavior change expert Dr. Susan Czajkowski. “The good news is that decades of research show that change is possible, and there are proven strategies you can use to set yourself up for success.” Lots of things you do impact your health and quality of life, now and in the future. You can reduce your risk for the most common, costly, and preventable health problems—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity—by making healthy choices. Know Your Habits Regular things you...

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White House Opioid Summit to Highlight Efforts to Fight Nationwide Epidemic


The White House is scheduled to convene a summit on the nation’s opioid epidemic Thursday afternoon, the Washington Examiner reports. The summit will include many government officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The newly appointed acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Jim Carroll, will make his first public appearance at the summit. About 200 other participants from outside the Trump Administration will attend, including people presenting nonprofits that focus on addiction and recovery.

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Justice Department to Examine Role of Drug Makers and Distributors in Opioid Crisis


A new Justice Department task force will examine the role of drug manufacturers and distributors in the opioid crisis, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said recently. Sessions also announced the Justice Department will file a statement of interest in hundreds of lawsuits against drug companies brought by local governments and medical institutions, seeking reimbursement for the cost of the epidemic, The Washington Post reports. Sessions said in a statement, “The hard-working taxpayers of this country deserve to be compensated by those whose illegal activity contributed to those costs. And we will go to court to ensure that the American people receive the compensation they deserve.”

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FDA to Allow Drug Companies to Sell Wider Range of Opioid Addiction Treatments


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will allow drug companies to sell medications that reduce opioid cravings, even if they do not fully stop addiction, The New York Times reports. In a speech at the National Governors Association, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar noted only one-third of specialty addiction treatment programs offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT). “We want to raise that number — in fact, it will be nigh impossible to turn the tide on this epidemic without doing so,” he said. Azar added the FDA intends “to correct a misconception that patients must achieve total abstinence in order for MAT to be considered effective.” The FDA will encourage development of medications that can help patients function better and can be helpful when used in combination with therapy and other social support, even if the medications don’t completely end addiction, an agency official told the newspaper.

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