A growing number of older Americans are becoming addicted to prescription opioid drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin. While drug-related deaths have increased dramatically in all age groups, the greatest percentage increase has been among adults ages 55 to 64.
As our nation continues to be in the throes of the worst opioid epidemic in its history, a serious but not widely recognized consequence is the surge in newborns born to mothers who used opioids during pregnancy. These babies can experience painful opioid withdrawal symptoms, known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).
Veterans face many challenges when returning from military duty, including adjusting to civilian life and job and housing insecurity. One problem that is often overlooked is excessive alcohol or drug use, which can lead to addiction.
In 2015, only about 11 percent of the approximately 22 million people who needed addiction treatment received it. And though increased access to treatment is necessary, it’s not enough to close this treatment gap. While barriers to accessing treatment – like the high cost of treatment and the limited number of treatment facilities and providers – may explain why many people who need treatment don’t receive it, the reality is that many experiencing addiction do not feel motivated to seek help.
One of the major problems of today’s deadly opioid epidemic and persistent addiction crisis is lack of access to effective treatment. One of the major reasons people are unable to get treatment is the apparent lack of coverage by their health insurance plan. This continues to happen despite the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (Parity Act), a federal law that requires equitable insurance coverage for addiction treatment by most health plans.
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.
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.
You may know of ketamine by its street name “Special K,” and you may be aware that it can produce dreamlike and hallucinogenic effects. You may also know that ketamine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an anesthetic. But did you know that ketamine is now being prescribed to treat mood disorders like depression?
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