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Thursday, April 30, 2015
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Letting More EMS Staff Use Naloxone Could Reduce Drug Overdose Deaths: Study
April 28th, 2015/
Overdoses due to opioid drug use could be reduced if more emergency medical service (EMS) workers were allowed to administer the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, a new government study concludes.
Prescription opioids, including Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet, caused more than 16,000 deaths in the United States in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Heroin, also an opioid, caused more than 8,000 deaths that year.
Naloxone is a prescription drug that has long been used by emergency rooms and paramedics. Recently, the World Health Organization said increasing the availability of naloxone could prevent more than 20,000 deaths in the United States annually. Naloxone works quickly, without side effects.
In the new study, CDC researchers reviewed nationwide data and found advanced EMS workers were more likely than basic EMS workers to administer naloxone, HealthDayreports. As of last year, only 12 states allowed basic EMS workers to administer naloxone for a suspected opioid overdose. All 50 states allowed advanced EMS workers to administer the antidote. The researchers recommended all EMS workers be trained to use naloxone, and that basic EMS personnel be given assistance to meet advanced certification requirements.
“Naloxone can be given nasally to a person suspected of overdose, allowing basic EMS staff to administer the drug without injection,” CDC senior health scientist Mark Faul said in anews release. “Naloxone is nonaddictive, and expanding training on how to administer the drug can help basic emergency medical service staff reverse an opioid overdose and save more lives.”
The opioid overdose death rate was 45 percent higher in rural areas than in urban areas, but the use of naloxone by rural EMS workers was only 22.5 percent higher than among their urban counterparts, the researchers report in the American Journal of Public Health.
Hospitals Report Hundreds of Cases of Illness Caused by Synthetic Marijuana
April 28th, 2015/
Hospitals across the country have been reporting hundreds of cases of seriously ill people coming to the emergency room after using synthetic marijuana. In New York City, more than 120 cases were reported in a single week, according to NPR.
Many cases have also been seen in Alabama and Mississippi. Several people have died, the article notes.
Synthetic marijuana is often sold under the name “K2” or “Spice.” According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, these drugs can be extremely dangerous. Health effects can include severe agitation and anxiety; fast, racing heartbeat and high blood pressure; nausea and vomiting; muscle spasms, seizures, and tremors; intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes; and suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions.
“We have to chemically restrain and physically restrain them because they become violent and very strong. It takes four to five personnel to restrain them on a gurney,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told NPR. One patient last week ended up in the ICU. “He was combative and required sedation in the ER,” Dr. Glatter said.
There is likely something unusual about the K2 that is causing the recent rash of ER visits, Dr. Glatter notes. Makers of synthetic drugs frequently change their molecular structure, to evade laws that outlaw the drugs. The changing structure also makes the drugs more difficult to detect on drug tests. These changes make the effects of the drugs more unpredictable.
“Chemists are getting more and more creative in designing these structures,” said Marilyn Huestis of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She added, “What’s in it today isn’t going to be what’s in it tomorrow.”
April E-News from the
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
Between marijuana legalization, the normalization in pop culture and new ways of using, it’s becoming more complicated for parents to talk with their teens.
This month marked the launch of our brand-newMarijuana Talk Kit: How to Talk With Your Teen About Marijuana. The comprehensive guide equips parents with the facts about marijuana as well as real skills and examples that they can use to have meaningful, productive conversations with their kids.
Download your FREE Marijuana Talk Kit now >
Designed to respond both to today’s heroin and opiate epidemic and threats, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) is an all-inclusive response to opiate and heroin addiction that includes prevention, law enforcement strategies, overdose prevention, expansion of evidence-based treatment and support for those in, or seeking, recovery.
You can help ensure that this important legislation receives the attention and support it deserves by participating in a special National Call-In Day (Wednesday, 4/29).
Learn more about CARA and take action now >
Our complete Drug Guide for Parents is now available for quick and easy reference as a mobile app for Android phones and iPhones. Parents can now access vital information on drugs most commonly abused by teens right from their smartphones, including photos, slang terms and short- and long-term effects.
Learn more and download the free app now >
Get the Latest Substance Abuse/Addiction News Right in Your Inbox
For four years and counting, the Partnership’s Join Together News Service continues to keep readers informed about the top substance abuse and addiction news that impacts their work, life and community. Find in-depth explorations and expert commentary related to research, breakthroughs, emerging drug threats, policies affecting the substance abuse field and more, sent straight to your inbox each week.
Subscribe today >
All of our programs and resources developed to help families are available thanks to generous donors. Please support our work by making a contribution today. Donate now >
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Maine Program Distributes Drug Arrest Records to Doctors and Pharmacists
/BY CELIA VIMONT
April 22nd, 2015/
A program in Maine is helping to combat prescription drug abuse by providing a monthly list of people arrested or summoned for prescription or illegal drug-related crimes to doctors and pharmacists.
The program, Diversion Alert, is helping doctors and pharmacists identify patients at risk of overdosing, in need of addiction treatment or engaged in illegal prescription drug distribution, says Executive Director Clare Desrosiers.
She discussed the program at the recent Rx Drug Abuse Summit in Atlanta.
In addition to alerting doctors and pharmacists about patients with possible abuse and addiction problems, Diversion Alert also provides tip sheets to help them respond to these patients.
The program was established in Aroostook County, Maine in 2009, and was expanded statewide in 2013, with a two-year grant from the state’s Attorney General’s office.
The grant funding will soon run out, Desrosiers said. A bill to fund the program with state money will be considered this session by the state legislature. Desrosiers has applied for several grants, and has also started raising money through a crowdfunding site,diversionalert.causevox.com/.
In addition to receiving monthly reports, subscribers to Diversion Alert also gain access to an online, searchable, password-protected drug charge database, which contains an 11-month record of substance abuse-related arrests in Maine. Booking photos are provided when available.
A pre/post study with comparison groups conducted in 2013-2014 found that prescribers who participated in Diversion Alert became more aware of the prescription drug abuse and diversion problem in their area, communicated more with health care providers about shared patients, stopped prescribing controlled substances to patients selling their prescription, and reported improved attentiveness to prescribing for all patients. Fifty-two percent of Maine health care providers participating in the post-survey evaluation reported that they found at least one patient listed on a Diversion Alert report in the past 12 months.
Diversion Alert is different from Maine’s Prescription Monitoring Program, which is administered by Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services. That program provides doctors and pharmacists with information about all controlled substance prescriptions dispensed to patients in Maine. It uses a separate online, password-protected database. The prescription monitoring program automatically notifies prescribers when a patient engages in behaviors that could indicate misuse, such as visiting a large number of doctors and pharmacists in a short period. It does not alert prescribers when a patient has been charged with trying to buy or sell prescription drugs.
“Ideally, doctors should be looking at both databases,” Desrosiers said. “The data in the prescription monitoring database in many cases doesn’t overlap with Diversion Alert data.”
One 2014 study of Diversion Alert found that the majority of people arrested for trafficking prescription drugs are not “doctor shopping” or “pharmacy hopping.” The study found that of 295 people listed in Diversion Alert for drug trafficking charges, 76 percent were not listed in the state’s prescription drug monitoring database. “It’s complementary, not duplicative,” Desrosiers notes.
Currently about 24 percent of the state’s actively licensed prescribers and pharmacists are registered with Diversion Alert, according to Desrosiers. “It doesn’t cost much and it has very good outcomes,” she said. “We found 59 percent of doctors said they used Diversion Alert to intervene with patients they find listed in Diversion Alert reports. That’s what we want to happen.”
Doctors who find a patient has been charged with prescription or illegal drug-related crimes are advised to stop prescribing controlled substances to that patient, and to consider referral to a detox center or medication-assisted treatment for patients coming off a high dose of opiates. Doctors are also advised to offer alternatives for pain, anxiety or ADHD treatment, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other non-opioid medications; physical therapy, chiropractic, massage and other alternative therapies; and behavioral treatment, such as medical yoga, and cognitive behavioral therapy.