This Week's News in Substance Use: 5/26/17

Here Are the Next Steps to Tackling the Opioid Epidemic, Forbes

“[Shatterproof founder Gary] Mendell is showing that an effective business approach does not preclude science and, in fact, needs science to be front and center. Mendell is not a scientist. He doesn't even play one on TV. But the former successful hotel entrepreneur and executive appreciates science and scientists, as evidenced by the number of times he mentions the need for science and "evidenced-based actions" when referring to the crisis. To him, addressing the opioid crisis is not something just to get political points or votes or Twitter followers. It's personal.”

Colleges Can Get Free Doses of Naloxone for Students Overdosing on Heroin and Other Opioids, The Washington Post

“The Clinton Foundation and Adapt Pharma are working together to give colleges 40,000 doses of NARCAN nasal spray, which is the only FDA-approved nasal spray and is designed to be simple enough to administer that people without medical training can provide a potentially lifesaving dose.”

FDA Commissioner Gottlieb Calls for ‘More Forceful Steps’ to Curb Opioid Epidemic, The Boston Globe

“Scott Gottlieb, the new head of the Food and Drug Administration, called on his staff Tuesday to explore ‘‘additional, more forceful steps’’ to curb the opioid crisis — and especially to find ways to reduce the number of new cases of addiction.

Calling the epidemic his ‘‘highest initial priority,’’ Gottlieb suggested that the agency consider mandatory education for doctors about the dangers of opioids and work to ensure that patients aren’t prescribed the medications for unnecessarily long periods that increase the risk of addiction.”

Gingrich, Nolan: Opioid Addictions Won't Be Cured by Tough Sentences, Fox News

“One of the most important promises President Trump made during the campaign was his pledge to end the opioid epidemic – and he has taken some strong steps toward making good on that promise, including the creation of a commission and almost a half billion dollars in new funding. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s announcement last week that federal prosecutors should ‘pursue the most serious, readily provable offense’ when dealing with drug crimes has us concerned.”

How Trump's Budget Would Weaken Public Health, The Atlantic

“Much of the health safety net in the United States is formed by federal departments and agencies. There’s the Department of Health and Human Services, under which fall the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, among several other critical public-health structures. There are also some crucial health-related components outside of HHS, including much of the Environmental Protection Agency, the lead-testing program under the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as food stamps. With few exceptions, the Trump budget would slash these.”

Doctors Still Prescribe Opioid Painkillers for Back Pain Despite Guidelines, The Fix

“A new poll from NPR and Truven Health Analytics has found that, against best practices recommendations, many doctors are still prescribing opioid painkillers for back pain.

Despite the fact that evidence-based practices suggest considering an array of treatment options before prescribing opioid painkillers—and despite the fact that opioid painkillers have not been shown to be particularly helpful with relieving back pain—doctors are still prescribing them at alarming rates. This is not helping patients’ symptoms and is putting them at risk for developing dependence or addiction, the poll finds.”

Science Says: Medications Prevent Opioid Addiction Relapse, Associated Press

“Because of how opioids act on the brain, people dependent on them get sick if they stop using. Withdrawal can feel like a bad flu with cramping, sweating, anxiety and sleeplessness. Cravings for the drug can be so intense that relapse is common.

Medication-assisted treatment helps by moving a patient from powerful painkillers or an illicit opioid like heroin to a regular dose of a legal opioid-based medication such as buprenorphine or methadone. The ideal dose is big enough to fend off withdrawal, but too small to produce a euphoric high. Patients can drive, rebuild relationships and get back to work.”