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Substance dependence drives significant health care costs for payors through a combination of factors that include acute inpatient utilization and unaddressed co-morbidities. The Substance Dependence problem is pervasive, largely untreated and costly. Stay informed on these topics by visiting our blog periodically. You can also sign up for the Catasys On Healthcare Newsletter to receive the latest in health care news. » Sign Up for Newsletter
By Jennifer Myers Last year, 31 people died from opioid overdoses in Lowell, a figure that will likely rise once test results come back on 12 pending cases.
"If 31 people died from a pandemic flu or Eastern equine encephalitis, everyone would have their shorts in a knot," Lowell Health Department Director Frank Singleton said. "There would be a total panic. But no one talks about drug addiction or overdose."
"It has always been 'somebody else's problem,'" added state Rep. Tom Golden, who has championed bringing awareness and solutions to the problem for more than five years. "People have to realize this is all of our problem. It affects our families, our economy and, most importantly, the quality of life in our communities."» More
By Christine S. Moyer Educating health professionals on how to prescribe extended-release and long-acting opioids is among the federal government’s latest efforts to slow the rise in overdose deaths involving prescription painkillers.
Manufacturers of the powerful drugs will have to fund continuing education programs for physicians and others who prescribe the medications, according to a safety measure issued July 9 by the Food and Drug Administration. The training sessions will begin in March 2013, and participation will be voluntary for health professionals. At this article’s deadline, the FDA was looking into how the training will be offered.» More
By Michelle Castillo While efforts to curb OxyContin abuse seem to be succeeding, doctors are worried that addicts may be driven to use more dangerous opioids, including heroin.
Even though the formula of OxyContin has been changed to prevent the abuse of the drug through crushing or dissolving it in water for snorting or injection purposes, addiction to opioids still poses a problem.
"We're now seeing reports from across the country of large quantities of heroin appearing in rural and suburban areas," Dr. Theodore J. Cicero, vice chair of research at Washington University's department of psychiatry, told the Los Angeles Times. "Unable to use OxyContin easily, which was a very popular drug in rural and suburban areas, drug abusers who prefer snorting or IV drug administration now have shifted to more potent opioids if they can find them, or to heroin."» More
By: MARY ELLEN SCHNEIDER, Clinical Psychiatry News Digital Network Methadone was involved in more than 30% of opioid-related deaths in the United States in 2009, second only to the painkiller oxycodone, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The high rate of overdose deaths from methadone occurred even though the drug accounted for less than 2% of opioid prescriptions in 2009. Part of problem is that methadone is more likely than other opioids to cause an overdose, according to the CDC. For example, a toxic level of methadone can accumulate in the body, leading to severe respiratory depression. Methadone can also cause major disturbances in cardiac rhythm.
"It acts differently in different people’s bodies," Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the CDC, said during a press conference to announce the new data. "So it’s possible that someone can take just a small amount, but it may last for days in their system and cause serious health problems."» More
By Sharon Meieran The abuse, misuse and diversion of prescription drugs is a public health crisis. This is particularly apparent to those of us working in the emergency department, which is the largest ambulatory source of opioid medications. We all too frequently see individuals with untreated addiction issues, with life-threatening overdoses, and trying to obtain opioid medications for recreational use or to sell for profit.
The costs to individuals and society are devastating:
In 2009, for the first time, drug overdose exceeded motor vehicle collision as the leading cause of accidental death in Oregon.
Oregon is the fifth-highest state for nonmedical use of prescription painkillers, with nearly 700 associated poisoning deaths in 2003-2007.» More