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Monday, February 25, 2013

ATOD and Advocacy Update - Week-Ending February 22, 2013

Prevention Programs in Middle School May Reduce Later Prescription Drug Use

Substance abuse prevention programs that begin in middle school may help deter prescription drug abuse in later years, new research suggests. Scientists analyzed findings from three studies of family- and school-based prevention programs designed for rural and small-town middle school students. They found students who went through substance abuse prevention programs were 20 percent to 65 percent less likely to abuse prescription drugs and opioids when they were between 17 and 25 years old, compared with students who did not participate in the programs. The programs focused on general risk and protective factors of substance abuse. “Brief universal interventions have potential for public health impact by reducing prescription drug misuse among adolescents and young adults,” the researchers wrote in the American Journal of Public Health. “The intervention effects were comparable or even stronger for participants who had started misusing substances prior to the middle school interventions, suggesting that these programs also can be successful in higher-risk groups,” lead author Richard Spoth, PhD, from the Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute at Iowa State University in Ames, said in a news release. Nora Volkow, MD, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, noted that prescription medications can be helpful when they are prescribed to treat pain, anxiety, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. “However, their abuse can have serious consequences. We are especially concerned about prescription drug abuse among teens, who are developmentally at an increased risk for addiction,” she said.

Drug Companies Work with Anti-Doping Agency to Prevent Illegal Use of Products

A growing number of drug companies are working with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to try to prevent illegal use of their products among athletes, according to The New York Times. Roche and GlaxoSmithKline have started to evaluate all new drug candidates for their potential to be abused by athletes. They have agreed to share information about the drugs with WADA, the article notes. Several other drug companies have given the agency information about specific drugs. This trend represents a shift in drug companies’ thinking, said David Howman, Director General of WADA. In the past, they “felt that any publicity in relation to antidoping control would be negative,” he told the newspaper. “But what they discovered is the opposite happened.” Last year, Glaxo sponsored testing laboratories for the Olympic Games in London. It was the first time an antidoping lab had a named corporate sponsor. In the past, the relationship between anti-doping officials and drug companies has been strained. The New York Times notes Amgen, maker of the blood-enhancing drug EPO, sponsored the Tour of California when abuse of the drug was widespread among cyclists. Last month, champion cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his career, and apologized for doing so during an interview with Oprah Winfrey. The winner of seven Tour de France victories, Armstrong strongly denied he used performance-enhancing drugs for many years.

Number of Deadly Drug Overdoses Rises for 11th Year
The number of deadly drug overdoses in the United States increased for the 11th consecutive year, according to new government data. More than 22,000 people died of overdoses involving prescription drugs in 2010, the Los Angeles Times reports. In total, 38,329 people died of drug overdoses that year. Of the 57 percent whose deaths involved prescription drugs, three-quarters were due to painkillers such as OxyContin and Percocet, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. They reported their findings this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. More than 74 percent of deaths due to prescription drugs were accidental, while 17 percent were suicides, the article notes. Opioids were found in 77 percent of overdoses involving benzodiazepines such as Valium, Xanax or Ativan. They were also involved in 65 percent of overdoses with antiepileptic or anti-Parkinsonian drugs, 47 percent of overdoses involving antidepressants, and 56 percent of overdoses with fever-reducing and anti-inflammatory medications.

Mapping Location of Alcohol Outlets, Drug Activity and Crime Could Aid Prevention

Mapping the location of alcohol outlets, drug activity and violent crimes could help police prevent violence, a new study suggests. Researchers at the University of Michigan studied the relationship between violent crimes in Boston drug markets, and the types and densities of alcohol outlets in those areas, MedicalXpress reports. They analyzed data on homicides and aggravated assault incidents, drug arrests and 911 calls, along with 2009 alcohol outlet data from the Massachusetts Alcohol Beverage Control Commission. They also examined census data. They found areas with the highest levels of violent crime were poorer and had greater numbers of alcohol outlets and higher drug arrest rates. “Identification of such ‘hot spots’ may help in identifying micro-environments: blocks or intersections whose characteristics facilitate violent behavior. Our study helps identify such micro-environments, an emerging area of criminology research, in Boston,” the authors wrote in the American Journal of Public Health.

Study Links Smoking in Teens and Young Adults With Risk of Death Before 55

The risk of dying before age 55 is increased in teens and young adults who smoke, are obese and have high blood sugar levels, a new study suggests. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data from 9,245 people ages 12 to 39. More than 30 percent were smokers, and more than 15 percent were obese; 298 died before reaching age 55. Those who had smoked between the ages of 12 and 39 were 86 percent more likely to die before 55, compared with nonsmokers. Being obese as a teen or young adult increased the risk of dying before age 55 by 39 percent, while having high blood sugar early in life tripled the risk of dying young. The study appears in the journal Pediatrics. “There is a need for more effective strategies to try and prevent obesity and smoking, and improve the overall health of the younger population,” lead researcher Sharon Saydah, a CDC senior scientist, told HealthDay. “Any time somebody dies before age 55, it has an overall societal impact.” A government report released in November found current cigarette smoking among teenagers declined significantly between 2002 and 2010 in 41 states. Nationwide, teen cigarette use fell from 12.6 percent to 8.7 percent.

Short Term Insurance Funding of Drug treatment May Have a Negative Impact on Treatment Outcomes
Insurance companies are to be thanked for their understanding of the need to fund drug treatment and recovery programs. It is also understandable that for financial reasons, these for-profit companies are committed to the minimal time frame for in-patient treatment. They often use the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) standard for minimum time in treatment as their guide for when to terminate treatment dollars. What this often means is that treatment funding for many insurance funded programs is short and therefor so is the treatment episode. To make matters worse for the addict needing help, most insurers will only fund a small number of treatment episodes per year. But according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a chronic recurring disease similar to diabetes or hypertension. That being the case, what impact does shorter and limited treatment, have on the recovery outcomes for chronic addicts? Read the rest of this blog here.

Opioids drive continued increase in drug overdose deaths  - Drug overdose deaths increase for 11th consecutive year
Drug overdose deaths increased for the 11th consecutive year in 2010, according to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings are published today in a research letter, “Pharmaceutical Overdose Deaths, United States, 2010,” in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).  CDC’s analysis shows that 38,329 people died from a drug overdose in the United States in 2010, up from 37,004 deaths in 2009. This continues the steady rise in overdose deaths seen over the past 11 years, starting with 16,849 deaths in 1999. Overdose deaths involving opioid analgesics have shown a similar increase. Starting with 4,030 deaths in 1999, the number of deaths increased to 15,597 in 2009 and 16,651 in 2010. Click here to read the full CDC report.

You may also wish to read this CBS report titled “With drug overdose deaths on rise, experts push to recognize signs of addiction”. The report is available here.

“Essential Health Benefits” Rule Covers Drug Addiction and Alcohol Abuse Treatment
The federal government on Wednesday issued a final rule on “essential health benefits” that most health insurance plans must offer next year, including treatment of drug addiction and alcohol abuse. The New York Times reports the Obama administration says 32 million people will gain access to coverage of mental health care as a result of the new benefits. An additional 30 million people who already have some mental health coverage will see an improvement in their benefits, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said. She noted the new ruling will make it easier for consumers to compare health plans. In the past, nearly 20 percent of individuals purchasing insurance didn’t have access to mental health services, and nearly one-third had no coverage for substance use disorder services, according to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) news release. The new rule provides more Americans with access to quality health care that includes coverage for mental health and substance use disorder services, HHS states. Each state will set its own benchmark insurance plan that reflects coverage typically offered by employers, the article notes. More than 30 states are using a plan offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield as their benchmark.

Heroin Addiction on the Rise in New York State
A growing number of people are becoming addicted to heroin in New York state, according to drug treatment counselors and police. They say many people have switched to heroin from prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, the Associated Press reports. Police report the people they arrest for heroin often started on painkillers prescribed by a doctor, then started purchasing them on the street. They turned to heroin because it is less expensive. Many areas around the country are seeing a surge in heroin addiction that stems from prescription drug abuse. A study published in July 2012 in the New England Journal of Medicine found OxyContin abuse has decreased now that the painkiller has been reformulated to make it more difficult to misuse. Many people who abused the drug have switched to heroin. The study included more than 2,500 people who were dependent on opioids, who were followed between July 2009 and March 2012. During that time, there was a 17 percent decrease in OxyContin abuse. In 2010, the company that makes OxyContin introduced a new version of the drug that is more difficult to inhale or inject. During the same period, heroin abuse doubled.

Spending on Tobacco Prevention: New Jersey

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that New Jersey spend $119.8 million a year to have an effective, comprehensive tobacco prevention program.  New Jersey does not currently allocate anything for tobacco prevention and cessation and as a result it ranks 50th among the states in the funding of tobacco prevention programs.  New Jersey collects an estimated $997 million in tobacco-generated revenue each year from settlement payments and tobacco taxes. Click here to read the full report.

Hazing, Alcohol Issues Prompt Fla. University To Halt Greek Activities
Another Florida university has suspended many fraternity and sorority activities after alcohol and hazing issues came up.  In an announcement Wednesday, the administration at the University of Central Florida said recent events indicate the school's Greek community needs a change in culture when it comes to alcohol use and hazing. No information on anything specific was released.  Hazing has been a topic of discussion and debate in Florida since the November 2011 death of Robert Champion. The Florida A&M University drum major died after a brutal hazing ritual aboard a bus.  UCF officials said they will develop a comprehensive plan to address alcohol and hazing issues.  More than 3,100 students participate in 48 recognized Greek organizations at UCF.  A school news release says fraternities and sororities will be permitted to hold organizational business meetings but little else. UCF news release:

NIH Warns Of Major Drawbacks With Sequester

The looming sequester may dramatically slow medical research.  Officials at the National Institutes of Health warn the budget cuts they face if the sequester is implemented will be devastating to new research.  NIH faces a possible 1.5 billion dollar cut, which would mean a 5 percent cut across the board for every program.  National Institutes of Health Director, Dr. Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. says, "Cuts will spell slower progress against our most common diseases, such as alzheimer's, cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and heart disease."  Dr. Collins says cuts may also mean a delay in creating the next vaccine for influenza.  Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) toured NIH Wednesday afternoon. She warns of the direct impact the research cuts may have in her home state.  Sen. Mikulski says, "It will be an impact on 15-thousand Marylanders, who work either at NIH or who benefit from the research funding at other Maryland institutions, whether it is Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland and nearby institutes."  The Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee warns if action is not taken soon, we will be hurting ourselves as a nation.  Sen. Mikulski says, "We talk a lot about threats to the United States, we fear foreign predators and terrorism. We fear foreign competition, 'oh, what are the chinese doing?', but what we are about to inflict upon us is a self-inflicted wound."  The deadline to end the federal fiscal standoff to avoid the sequester cuts is March 1st.

Children More Likely to Accept Drug Use if Parents Admit Past Substance Use

Middle school students are less likely to think using drugs is bad if their parents told them about their own past substance use, a new study finds. Children whose parents warned them not to use drugs were more likely to avoid them, ABC News reports. The study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign included 561 middle school students. They were less likely to accept drug use if their parents set rules against drugs, and told them about people who have gotten into trouble because of drugs. “Parents should really hit on what are the bad things that can happen, health-wise, from using drugs,” researcher Jennifer Kam told ABC News. ”They should really clearly tell kids that they disapprove of them using drugs. Also, give them strategies to avoid use or decline use in a way that makes them look cool.” She advised parents against lying. “I wouldn’t volunteer the information, but if a child asks, and a parent lies, it could impact the relationship later on,” she noted. The study appears in the journal Human Communication Research.

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