It’s not an opioid but this pain medication has recently been linked with a significant percentage of drug-related deaths in Louisville, Kentucky. The Courier Journal reported that in 2016, gabapentin, also known as Neurontin, Gralise or Horizant, was present in nearly one-fourth of fatal overdoses within the commonwealth’s largest city.
While previously taboo within the U.S., the idea of opening supervised injection facilities is currently gaining traction in numerous cities across the country. In light of Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Ithaca, Philadelphia and New York each announcing its intention to consider establishing legally sanctioned, medically supervised settings where people can inject previously obtained drugs (such as heroin and other opioids), we asked our followers, “would you welcome a supervised injection facility in your community?”
First developed thousands of years ago, the traditional Chinese medicine technique acupuncture is still employed around the world today to help people suffering from various ailments like back pain, headaches, fibromyalgia and post-operative nausea. One specific type of acupuncture is even being used to treat what many consider among our nation’s biggest health problems: addiction.
Surplus prescription medications can pose a significant risk to both adults and children. As stated by the National Safety Council, “the largest source of easily available and ‘free’ abused medications are the billions of prescription pills readily accessible in home medicine cabinets.” The best way to prevent prescription drug misuse, including the misuse of potentially deadly opioids, is by properly storing and ultimately disposing of excess medications. Unfortunately, in our latest poll , we asked, “do you currently have leftover or excess prescription medications in your home?” and half of all respondents replied “yes.”
Just last week, The New York Times reported that United States border agents are seizing “10 to 20 times the amounts [of this drug] they did a decade ago.” The drug in question: methamphetamine. As our national consciousness has been laser-focused on the opioid epidemic, hundreds of thousands of people are struggling with addiction to this drug, commonly referred to as “meth,” “ice,” “crank,” “crystal,” “fire,” “glass,” or “speed.”
“Natural,” “mild and pleasant,” “a solution for opioid addiction;” these are a few of the ways the substance kratom has been described in the media. Yet, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has long warned users about the “deadly risks” associated with consuming this herb, and just today issued a statement noting it should be treated no less seriously than other addictive opioids. So, what is kratom, why is it growing in popularity and what risks does it pose to users?
Opioid medications, sometimes known as pain relievers, are the most widely prescribed class of drugs worldwide. While the United States represents about five percent of the world’s population, it consumes 80 percent of the global opioid supply. Not surprisingly, the U.S. is also suffering from the most severe opioid addiction and overdose crisis it has ever experienced. But, this didn’t happen overnight. Several factors contributed to the unprecedented use – and misuse – of opioids in this country.
More than two million Americans are addicted to opioids, ranging from the illegal drugs heroin and fentanyl to the prescription medications OxyContin and Vicodin, yet eight times as many people misuse or are addicted to a substance that is more widely available and easier to access. This substance is alcohol. Despite the fact that it has largely retreated from public consciousness in the context of the current opioid epidemic, research shows that rates of alcohol misuse and addiction are on the rise.
Dr. Roy is an internal medicine physician board certified in addiction medicine and a clinical assistant professor at the New York University Department of Population Health. As the former Chief of Addiction Medicine for New York City jails, including Rikers Island, she oversaw addiction treatment and recovery efforts for the city's incarcerated men and women. Previously, she was on faculty at Harvard Medical School and a primary care doctor to Boston's homeless population, among whom the leading cause of death was drug overdose.
Following her participation in our Addiction Speaker Series, we interviewed Dr. Roy to learn more about drug addiction as it relates to the criminal justice system.
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