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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Medical Task Force to Combat Prescription Opioid Epidemic

The fight against prescription drug abuse in America continues, and the frontline is in the doctor's office. 27 major medical organizations, led by the American Medical Association (AMA), have created a task force and launched a new website with the hope of reducing prescription opioid abuse, HealthDay reports. The task force aims to “improve doctors' education on safe, effective and evidence-based prescribing.”

"We have joined together as part of this special Task Force because we collectively believe that it is our responsibility to work together to provide a clear road map that will help bring an end to this public health epidemic," AMA Board Chair-Elect Dr. Patrice Harris said in an AMA news release

The task force would like doctors to register for and use prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), which are available in 49 states, according to the article. PDMPs can help physicians determine if a patient is seeing multiple doctors for prescription opioids. The AMA points out that 44 people lose their lives every day to prescription opioid overdoses.

The AMA led task force is calling for a national campaign to educate doctors about how they can help address the national prescription opioid crisis. The task force will not disrupt the care that people who are suffering from chronic pain deserve, the initiative’s focus is abuse, the article reports.

“America’s patients who live with acute and chronic pain deserve compassionate, high-quality and personalized care, and we will do everything we can to create a health care response that ensures they live longer, fuller and productive lives,” said Harris. 

Some of the other medical organizations joining the fight include the:
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Academy of Neurology, the American Academy of Pain Medicine
  • American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Dental Association

Thursday, July 23, 2015

44 Percent of Adults Have Used Marijuana

In 1969, less than two years after the infamous “Summer of Love,” Gallup began asking Americans the question: "Have you ever tried marijuana?" At the time, only 4 percent of Americans answered yes to the question. Those answering yes to having used the drug in the most recent Gallup poll was 44 percent of adults, a six percent increase from the previous year's poll. More men (47 percent) than women (35 percent) reported having ever tried marijuana.

It probably comes as little surprise that the country's collective view of the drug is changing, a drug which has been prohibited in one form or another for almost a century. With medical marijuana programs in 23 states (as well as D.C.) and recreational legalization laws in four states, many expect that more states will adopt more relaxed laws the next time the country heads for the polls.

Gallup also asked Americans adults if they are currently smoking marijuana. Just over one in 10 Americans (11%) reported smoking, up from 7% in 2013. Among men, 13 percent said they currently smoke marijuana, compared to 6 percent of women.

The Gallup poll findings originate from telephone interviews conducted July 8-12, 2015, with a random sample of 1,009 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

A recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found teenage marijuana use on the rise. While it has not been proven that relaxed marijuana laws account for the rise, lawmakers and public health officials should be cognizant of the trend, and work to mitigate teenage exposure to the drug.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

In many households across the United States prescription drugs collect dust in drawers and medicine cabinets. It is quite common for people to be prescribed narcotic medications and then not take all the pills. Such drugs are often forgotten about and can end up in the wrong hands.

As the nation continues to wage war on prescription drug abuse, a problem that has been labeled an epidemic, the need to safely dispose of unwanted medication is of the utmost importance. For a number of years now, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has hosted several national prescription drug take-back days. These programs have collected millions of unwanted pills that could have ended up being abused.

The DEA recently announced the next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which will be held on September 26th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The collection sites will be announced on September 1, 2015. The programs have proven to be effective measures against accidental ingestion and abuse.

The problem is so big that counties across the country have passed bills that would require pharmaceutical companies to cover the cost of take-back programs. Almost a year ago, the DEA announced that people with unused narcotics could return the drugs to pharmacies for safe disposal.

Every prescription opioid that is safely disposed of is one less pill that can be potentially abused. If you have unwanted medications please do not hesitate to dispose of them safely, visit the DEA’s website to find out where to take your leftover medications. Every adult can make a difference as the nation attempts to recover from years of prescription drug abuse.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Changing Americas' View On Naloxone

Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Across the nation stories about the miracle drug naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan ®, saving the lives of people who have overdosed on opioid narcotics are quite common. The drug has the power to reverse the effects of an overdose, if it is administered in a timely manner and other narcotics are not involved. While it may seem like Americans, addicts or not, would support increased access to naloxone with the exponential increase of overdoses, the reality is quite different - most do not support policies designed to expand the drugs reach.

New research suggests that using educational messages about the lifesaving benefits of naloxone may change people’s views and increase support for the drug, ScienceDaily reports. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health believe that a combination of educational messages with sympathetic narratives about people who may be alive today, if the drug were more available, may change people’s minds about the drug.

All the research available today suggests that America is in the grips of a prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. The majority of those afflicted are not addicts living on the street, opioid addiction has touched every demographic and it is well known that addiction does not care about socio-economic standing.

“Naloxone is an extraordinarily effective treatment and has been proven to save lives," says the study's leader Colleen L. Barry, PhD, MPP, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School. "Despite this, stigma toward people with drug addiction has kept naloxone from becoming an accepted and widely used tool to combat overdose deaths. We are stuck in a pattern of believing that drug addiction is a moral failing rather than a chronic health condition that can be managed with treatment and so we aren't taking important steps to save lives."

The report was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Staying Safe and Sober On the 4th of July

The 4th of July is upon us once again, a time of cook outs, fireworks, and excessive alcohol consumption. For those in recovery, navigating the waters of recovery during the holidays can prove challenging. Active members of recovery need to exercise extra caution over the weekend in order to avoid dangerous situations that can easily interfere with one’s program. It is of the utmost importance to have a plan.

Keeping to a routine can help. Staying in touch with your homegroups and calling your sponsor as usual are important during the holidays. Some people may opt for Alcathons and Narcathons, attending multiple meetings in one day. It is crucial to stay in contact with one’s support network; if a situation arises, then help is only a phone call away. Never be afraid to pick up the phone, community is the lifeblood of recovery.

If for some reason you cannot get a hold of someone in your support network, call the 24 hour 800 recovery hotlines in your area. Someone will answer to advise you; if help is needed they can contact someone to assist you. It is always easier to pick up the phone before a relapse, then after a relapse. 

Local Alano clubs usually have festive events on holidays, information about available activities can be found online. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to have fun in recovery - free from mind altering substances. The more active one is, the easier it is to make it through a holiday safe and sober.

We hope that you have a safe, sober and clean 4th of July.
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