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Welcome to The Buzz—The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse's online conversation about addiction and substance use.

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Dr. Sabet, Director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida and Co-Founder, President and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, spoke during our Addiction Speaker Series about the impact of marijuana legalization in our country. Research shows that the vast majority (91 percent) of calls to poison control centers for unintentional exposure to marijuana edibles among young children come from states like Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, which have legalized and marketed marijuana. National data also indicate that Colorado ranks highest in rates of adolescent marijuana use – higher than the national average. States like Colorado, Washington, and Oregon also rank lowest in measures of adolescent perceptions of risk from smoking marijuana.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Sabet about his work. 

According to a just-published New York Times article, drug overdose death rates are not simply increasing – they are increasing at an exponential rate. This data echoes a trend that The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse and other experts have been anticipating, but the numbers haven’t been verified like this until now.

There are currently over 2.5 million Americans who have an opioid use disorder. Those who receive medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction are prescribed methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone. While these medications have been proven to be effective treatments for opioid addiction, they do have side effects and are not completely risk-free. Is there another medication out there that can treat opioid addiction without such risks? Is there a quick fix to help relieve the withdrawal symptoms? Some in the medical subculture believe the psychedelic drug ibogaine may be a potential treatment for opioid addiction. 

In October 2016, Donald Trump addressed a group of supporters in Maine on his plan to end the opioid epidemic in America. During this speech he asserted, “A wall will not only keep out dangerous cartels and criminals, but it will also keep out the drugs and heroin poisoning our youth.” 

Naloxone, or Narcan, is used by first responders across the country to save lives when someone overdoses on opioids like heroin or prescription pills. Naloxone is an overdose reversal drug, but it is not treatment for addiction. This fact is often misunderstood: many people confuse naloxone as a treatment for opioid addiction. Rather, naloxone is more like a defibrillator – jump starting the heart after a heart attack. When people only use naloxone after an overdose without treatment, they are very likely to continue using opioids, and are at high risk of overdosing again

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