News & Updates – October 14, 2014; Issue 207





Categories: 2014-10-13, News Updates, TOC

Research Report: Increasing Addiction to Prescription Opioids Fuels Rise in Heroin Overdose Deaths

heroin and injectionOverdose deaths from prescription drugs have continued to rise, and so have fatalities from heroin use. The two are interconnected, federal health experts warn.

As prescription opioid use has gone up, the population of people addicted to them has also expanded. For many addicts, the journey from pharmaceutical fixes to street remedies like heroin is all too common. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) demonstrates this relationship.

The CDC studied deaths related to overdose in 28 states and from 2010 to 2012; heroin deaths doubled in all of those states. “While the majority of prescription opioid users do not become heroin users,” the CDC reported, “previous research found that approximately 3 out of 4 new heroin users report having abused prescription opioids prior to using heroin.”

The CDC added that two factors are causing the increase in heroin overdoses: an increase in heroin supplies “and widespread availability of prescription opioids and increasing opioid addiction rates.”

“Reducing inappropriate opioid prescribing remains a crucial public health strategy to address both prescription opioid and heroin overdoses,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement. “Addressing prescription opioid abuse by changing prescribing is likely to prevent heroin use in the long term.”

See related article and data at:

Source: - – October 7, 2014

Categories: 2014-10-13, Heroin, News Updates, Opioid Abuse/Addiction, Prescription Drugs, Research/Surveys
Tags: Heroin, Injecting Drug Users, Overdose, Prescription Opioids

State Policies Can Influence Patient Access to Effective Heroin Treatment

Pg4_map“State policies can influence the number of physicians licensed to prescribe buprenorphine, a drug that can treat addiction to heroin and other opioids in outpatient settings, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Studying county-level numbers of physicians approved to prescribe buprenorphine, the study found a significant link between the number of approved physicians and both specific state guidance regarding the use of buprenorphine and the distribution of clinical guidelines for buprenorphine treatment. The findings are published online by the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

“State officials who are concerned about increasing opportunities for people to receive treatment for addiction to heroin and other opioids should know that there are policies they can adopt that appear to help increase access to these services,” said Dr. Bradley D. Stein, the study’s lead author, a practicing psychiatrist and a senior scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.”

Related article available at:

Source: – October 7, 2014

Categories: 2014-10-13, Buprenorphine, Heroin, News Updates, News Updates, Opioid Abuse/Addiction, Research/Surveys
Tags: Buprenorphine, Heroin

Most Who Abuse Painkillers Are Unprepared If Overdose Strikes: Study

pills1“Although teens and young adults who abuse prescription painkillers face a high risk of overdose, most don’t know how to respond when one occurs, new research shows.

“What we found is that when it comes to how to handle an overdose, prescription opioid users who weren’t using drugs for official medical reasons were less savvy than, say, more traditional heroin-using populations,” said study author David Frank, a doctoral candidate in the department of sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.

“In fact, they tend to have a pretty severe lack of knowledge and a lot of confusion about it, despite the fact that most have experienced overdoses within their drug-using network,” said Frank.


“We found that prescription opioid [users] make a big distinction between themselves and heroin users,” Frank said. “Opioid users tend to be whiter, younger and come from a higher socioeconomic background. And even though opiates and heroin are pharmacologically similar, work by the same mechanism and can both cause an overdose, even daily opioid users seem to think that simply because they’re taking a doctor-prescribed medicine they’re not doing a dangerous drug.”

Source: – October 2, 2014

Categories: 2014-10-13, Addiction, News Updates, News Updates, Opioid Abuse/Addiction, Prescription Drugs
Tags: Addiction, Overdose, Prescription Opioids, Research

# 14 Days: Dying for Pain Relief in the Opioid Epidemic

“In our attempt to relieve our pain, the U.S. is leading the world in popping prescription painkillers, and more and more people are dying. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the U.S. accounts for five percent of the world’s population, yet we consume seventy-five percent of the world’s prescription drugs. Death rates from prescription opioid pain reliever overdoses in this country quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, the CDC reports.

Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, professor and attending physician of family and social medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in New York, spoke with CBS News about America’s rapidly growing prescription opioid abuse epidemic.”

This is part of a 14 article series.

Source: – October 10, 2014

Categories: 2014-10-13, News Updates, Opioid Abuse/Addiction
Tags: Addiction, Overdose, Pain, Prescription Opioids

ATTC - The BRIDGE Newsletter Series of Articles/Opinions on OBOT Buprenorphine Treatment

PharmacistArticles from the Addiction Technology Transfer Center’s Fall 2014 e-pub include:

  • Introduction to This Issue of The Bridge
  • The Buprenorphine Treatment Scene: An Interview with Dr. Jeffrey Junig
  • Access to Buprenorphine Treatment: Complexities Across the National Landscape
  • Regarding Substance Using Patients and Buprenorphine: A Primary Healthcare Challenge
  • The Necessity of Counseling in Buprenorphine Treatment
  • A Business Case for Including Medication in Treatment Plans
  • Some Challenges to Dr. Junig’s Assertions
  • Right on, Dr. Junig!
  • Counseling without Training?
  • Some Missing Points in Dr. Junig’s Interview

PDF available at:

Source: – Volume 4, Issue 3, Fall 2014

Note: A live video talk show of this issue of The Bridge will occur on October 30, 2014 at 3:00PM EST. Register at:

Categories: 2014-10-13, Addiction, Buprenorphine, News Updates, News Updates, Opioid Abuse/Addiction
Tags: Addiction, Buprenorphine

A Patch for the Painkiller Cost Crisis: Dependence Treatment

“Health insurer spending on treatment for painkiller dependence is on the rise, and proving to be one of several tools needed to curb the epidemic of opioid addiction.

Between 2011 and 2013, insurer spending on buprenorphine — a narcotic used to treat opioid dependence — rose by 38 percent per member per month, according to a study of 12 health plans covering 12 million Americans by the pharmacy benefits manager Prime Therapeutics.

Buprenorphine in combination with a similar drug, naloxone, increased by 124 percent in overall per member per month spending, Prime noted.

Prime researchers found more than 5,000 members in the 12 health plans with one or more buprenorphine treatment claims between January 2012 and December 2013, with nine months as the average length of therapy.

Among the commercial members for one Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurer in the South, buprenorphine and buprenorphine-naloxone combination therapies accounted for 74,000 claims between 2012-2013 — with 87 percent of those paid out to the tune of almost $22 million.”

Source: – September 30, 2014

Categories: 2014-10-13, Buprenorphine, Funding, News Updates, News Updates, Opioid Abuse/Addiction, Prescription Drugs
Tags: Buprenorphine, Prescription Opioids

Jana Burson Blog: NSDUH Data Released

Dr. Jana Burson“Each fall, the National Survey on Drug Use in Households releases data from their yearly survey, and data from 2013 is now being released. It’s a gradual process, with more information released as data is analyzed and compared to years past.

I was happy to see that non-medical use of all prescription medication continued to drop, though slowly, down to 2.5% of the population. Non-medical use of prescription opioids specifically has also shown a slight drop from 2009 to 2013. I hope this means people (and their doctors) are beginning to understand the dangers of illicit opioid use.

Of the group of people who said they were non-medical users of opioids, over half still said they obtained their drug from friends or family, for free. Around 11% bought their drug from a friend or family member, and 21% got the drug from one doctor. Only 4.3% said they got their prescription opioid pills from a drug dealer or a stranger, and only .1% bought them off the internet.”

Read more at:

Source: Dr. Jana Burson – October 6, 2014

Categories: 2014-10-13, News Updates, Research/Surveys
Tags: Government, Research, Substance abuse treatment

Research Report: How Obamacare Could Reduce Crime and Incarceration

health_care_reform“Researchers at Emory University found that expanding health care coverage increases the use of substance abuse treatment and reduces aggravated assault, robbery, and larceny, according to their new working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research.”

The study — which controlled for economic, demographic, and law enforcement differences in different areas of the country — found that both reforms increased the treatment rate for substance abuse, and that doing so decreased crime as well. Overall, the researchers concluded that a 10% increase in the substance abuse treatment rate reduces robbery by 3%, reduces aggravated assault by 4 to 9%, and reduces larceny theft by 2 to 3%. They also find that it’s a good investment: For $1 spent on treatment, an estimated $1.60 to $3 are saved due to crime reduction.

“To put these numbers into context, incarceration, which has been attributed to one third of the crime decline during the 1990s, has a benefit-cost ratio centered around 1.5,” the authors write. “Therefore, [substance abuse] treatment not only appears to be a more effective but also a more cost-effective alternative to incarceration at reducing crime.”

Source: – October 7, 2014

Categories: 2014-10-13, Addiction, Drug Courts & Criminal Justice, Healthcare Reform, News Updates
Tags: Addiction, Government

Public Feels More Negative Toward Drug Addicts Than Mentally Ill

mental healthWhile both are treatable health conditions, stigma of drug addiction much more pronounced, seen as ‘moral failing’

People are significantly more likely to have negative attitudes toward those suffering from drug addiction than those with mental illness, and don’t support insurance, housing, and employment policies that benefit those dependent on drugs, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research suggests.

A report on the findings, which appears in the October issue of the journal Psychiatric Services, suggests that society seems not to know whether to regard substance abuse as a treatable medical condition akin to diabetes or heart disease, or as a personal failing to be overcome.

“While drug addiction and mental illness are both chronic, treatable health conditions, the American public is more likely to think of addiction as a moral failing than a medical condition,” says study leader Colleen L. Barry, PhD, MPP, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “In recent years, it has become more socially acceptable to talk publicly about one’s struggles with mental illness. But with addiction, the feeling is that the addict is a bad or weak person, especially because much drug use is illegal.”

Between Oct. 30 and Dec. 2, 2013, Barry and her colleagues surveyed a nationally representative sample of 709 participants about their attitudes toward either mental illness or drug addition. The questions centered on stigma, discrimination, treatment and public policy.

Not only did they find that respondents had significantly more negative opinions about those with drug addiction than those with mental illness, the researchers found much higher levels of public opposition to policies that might help drug addicts in their recovery.

Only 22 percent of respondents said they would be willing to work closely on a job with a person with drug addiction compared to 62 percent who said they would be willing to work with someone with mental illness. Sixty-four percent said that employers should be able to deny employment to people with a drug addiction compared to 25 percent with a mental illness. Forty-three percent were opposed to giving individuals addicted to drugs equivalent health insurance benefits to the public at-large, while only 21 percent were opposed to giving the same benefits to those with mental illness.

Respondents agreed on one question: Roughly three in 10 believe that recovery from either mental illness or drug addiction is impossible.

The researchers say that the stories of drug addiction portrayed in the media are often of street drug users in bad economic conditions rather than of those in the suburbs who have become addicted to prescription painkillers after struggling with chronic pain. Drug addicts who fail treatment are seen as “falling off the wagon,” as opposed to people grappling with a chronic health condition that is hard to bring under control, they say. Missing, they say, are inspiring stories of people who, with effective treatment, are able to overcome addiction and live drug-free for many years.

Barry says once it would have been taboo for people to casually discuss the antidepressants they are taking, which is often the norm today. That kind of frank talk can do wonders in shaping public opinion, she says.

“The more shame associated with drug addiction, the less likely we as a community will be in a position to change attitudes and get people the help they need,” says another study author, Beth McGinty, PhD, MS, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “If you can educate the public that these are treatable conditions, we will see higher levels of support for policy changes that benefit people with mental illness and drug addiction.

See related article from the Fix Taking The Stigma Out Of Addiction available at:

Source: Press Release – October 1, 2014

Categories: 2014-10-13, News Updates, Research/Surveys
Tags: Mental Illness, Stigma


U.S. Congress Blog: Expanding Addiction Treatment Presents Real, Rare Opportunity for Bipartisanship – 10/4/14

NYU Study Find Relationship Between Neighborhood Drug Sales and Drug Use – 10/1/14

Methadone treatment is the gold standard for pregnant opiate users. So why are we punishing these women? – 10/1/14

Categories: 2014-10-13, News Updates