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President Trump indicated that he will declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency in a “major announcement” next week.  While the president called the epidemic a national emergency in August, he has not yet issued a formal declaration, leaving many to wonder: if a national emergency is declared, what type of approach will the president actually take?  Will the president embrace the public health approach outlined in the Surgeon General’s report or revert to a “war on drugs” strategy?  Unfortunately, signals from the president’s administration have been conflicting.

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In 2016, approximately 2.1 million Americans over the age of 11 suffered from addiction to opioids such as the prescription pain medications OxyContin and Vicodin or the illegal drug heroin. Yet, 11.8 million people – nearly six times as many – reported misusing opioids, primarily prescription medications.

Although it does not receive the same media attention as addiction – clinically known as opioid use disorder - this startling figure highlights a serious yet often overlooked problem within our society: the issue of opioid misuse.

College is a stressful time for students. Balancing the rigors of studying and coursework with the social and financial demands of college life can be particularly challenging. Some students try to deal with these challenges by taking amphetamines or stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin, thinking it will improve their focus and academic performance or allow them to stay awake and alert late into the night to study, work or party. While Adderall has proven benefits for individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), taking amphetamines for nonmedical or non-prescribed purposes can be extremely dangerous and even deadly.

In our most recent poll, we asked readers if there is a difference between an opioid and an opiate. Approximately 65 percent of people responded with the correct answer: yes. But, do you know what that difference is?

Dr. Copeland, founding director of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre at University of New South Wales Australia, spoke during our Addiction Speaker Series about the rise and fall of Australia’s cannabis policy responses. We interviewed Dr. Copeland to get some deeper insights into her research and experience regarding cannabis (or marijuana) use and the prevention and treatment of cannabis use disorder.

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