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Friday, July 29, 2011

Chronic Pain Treated With Opioids May Lead to Addiction

While it may not come as much surprise, a large percentage of patients undergoing treatment for chronic pain with opioids meet the criteria for addiction under the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) new definition of addiction. Experts had hoped that the new definition would mean less patients meeting the criteria, one-third of patients undergoing long-term pain therapy with opioids are dealing with addiction, a new study finds. The findings come from a study of 705 patients currently receiving long-term opioid treatment for pain not related to cancer, reports Medical News Today. The researchers conducting the study contrasted the APA’s old and new criteria for addiction, and surprisingly found that the percentage of patients with addiction to opioids was congruent.

The old and new criteria were not too dissimilar, opioid addiction was associated with:
  • being younger than 65
  • having a history of opioid abuse and substance abuse treatment
  • higher opioid withdrawal symptoms
Overall, researchers found that:
  • about 35 percent of patients met the criteria for opioid addiction
  • 21.7 percent of the patients met the criteria for moderate opioid-use disorder
  • 13.2 percent had severe opioid-use disorder

Prescription drugs, even if taken as prescribed, are highly addictive and should be used after all other forms of pain treatment have been exhausted. Going to the doctor when suffering with chronic pain, only to go home suffering from chronic pain and, now, addiction is never a good deal. There are many alternative forms of pain management available to those who are willing to try them, the problem is that most people want the quickest fix to their problems without realizing the new, potentially worse, problems that may arise as a result of consuming such medications. If opioids can be avoided, then avoid them at all costs.

The findings are published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Smokeless Tobacco Debate

As we move towards the future, working hard to live healthier lives, the science available to us has shown plenty of proof to support the fact that smoking cigarettes is hazardous to our health. Doctors work hard every day to try and convince their patients that smoking will kill them, a number of people have quit smoking in the last decade in response to our doctors’ efforts on the matter. Cigarette companies have caught wind of this trend which is why they have invested millions in creating smokeless tobacco products that will give consumers the buzz they are looking for without a number of additives that can be cancerous.

Obviously, no one can argue that fewer smokers is a good thing, but, the question is about which market these new products are meant to appeal to? R.J. Reynolds is test-marketing Camel Orbs, which are a dissolvable tobacco lozenge, in Denver, CO and Charlotte, NC, the Los Angeles Times reports. However, public health officials believe these products, with packaging and flavoring that appeals to children are directed at attracting teens, who can easily use the products in secret. The article points out the lack of research that has been conducted on the possible health risks of dissolvable tobacco.

These products come in packaging with bright colors and unique artwork which may catch the eyes of teenagers who want to hide their habit. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will meet this week in order to determine the nature and impact of dissolvable tobacco products on the public health, the impact on children being of main concern.

It is a safe bet to assume that any product containing chemicals and tobacco from big tobacco companies is probably harmful to one’s health even if they are slightly less harmful than tobacco.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Intravenous Drug Use Requires More

Every case of addiction varies from case to case, there is no one right way to find recovery; what works for one may not work for the next. However, there are some forms of recovery that have, statistically speaking, shown to be more effective than others. When addicts make the choice to surrender and start down the road to recovery, every individual is at a different point of their addiction. That is not to say that just because you do a drug one way, you are somehow worse off than the next, but, it does mean that you might require more intensive initial recovery program.

According to a new study, addicts who have moved into the realm of I.V. drug use have higher rates of abuse and dependence and have a greater need for substance abuse treatment when compared to those who do not use drug intravenously. Medical News Today, reported that the study used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. 70,000 teenagers and adults in the United States took part in the new survey. Typically injection drug users tend to be 35 and older living in rural area, unemployed, and have less than a high school education.

“By learning more about how routes of administration are related to user characteristics, we could improve our ability to tailor substance abuse treatment and prevention strategies to individual users,” said Scott Novak, PhD, lead researcher at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, NC, in a news release. “Because injection drug users are disproportionately engaged in the criminal justice system, criminal justice diversion programs, such as Drug Courts, and treatment for incarcerated offenders should also consider the unique needs of injection drug users.”

The study, published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases

Friday, July 8, 2011

Oklahoma Prescription Drug Database

There is hardly a state in the Union that does not have a prescription drug problem that has gone out of control. Individual states are working hard to take measures to curb the ever growing problem; requiring more from prescribing doctors as well as pharmacies by having to report to the state who is prescribing what and where they are acquiring the drugs. Oklahoma is one such state that has had an uphill battle with prescription drug abuse which is why a prescription drug database has been created which has shown promise. It was launched five years ago and since then Oklahoma’s Prescription Monitoring Program is now being used by three-fourths of the state’s doctors. Sadly, while the program is a step in the right direction it has not been proven to have saved lives while an estimated 100,000 state residents are still addicted to prescription drugs, according to The Oklahoman.

On top of that the state medical examiner has shown that the program has not reduced drug overdose deaths, which increased from 309 in 2006 to 356 in 2009. It used to be the case that doctors only had to report Schedule II controlled substances, such as oxycodone and morphine. The program, which began in July 2006, started requiring doctors to also report Schedules II-V, which includes drugs like Xanax and Valium.

Starting in January doctors will be asked to report prescriptions as they write them, instead of within a 24-hour period, according to the report. More action than that will be required if Oklahoma wants to reduce prescription drug overdoses which has shown to be a growing problem despite the steps already taken. The fact of the matter is that people simply do not understand just how dangerous drugs like oxycodone can be, especially if the drug is mixed with other drugs, legal or not.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Doctors Call On Congress to Help

With the growing number of prescription drug abuse related suicides the Federal government is saying, enough is enough. The fact of the matter is that many doctors prescribing potential lethal drugs do not fully grasp what is going on with their patients and are unable to identify signs of addiction. As one might imagine, there are many doctors who prescribed drugs that people overdosed on and never had a clue that their patient was an addict. Nearly 30,000 Americans overdosed last year, half of all those overdoses were the result of legal prescription drugs. Health care professionals need to be better educated on this subject so that they will have a shot at realizing that a particular patient is in trouble and shouldn't be prescribed narcotics.

This week more than 125 physicians went to Capitol Hill to demand that the government act on this growing problem. "In most cases, doctors contribute innocently because they haven't been trained properly on how to prescribe in a responsible way, how to identify a drug addict and help them," said Dr. David Kloth, a pain management physician from Connecticut and spokesman for the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. According to Kloth, 80 to 90 percent of physicians in the United States have no training whatsoever when it comes to chemical dependence.

Doctors from ASIPP and the North American Neuromodulation Society, which are two leading associations for pain physicians would like lawmakers to support a bill by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., requiring all physicians to participate in prescription drug abuse training and to register with the Drug Enforcement Administration before prescribing certain medications. A mandate like this, aided by electronic prescription records to make sure doctor shopping and pill farms do not operate, is a step in the right direction when it comes to saving lives.
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