The past few years have seen an explosion in the use of e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), especially among young people. Since e-cigarettes entered the U.S. market several years ago, the news and information posted online and on social media often contain contradictory and confusing messages about their potential risks and benefits. This has led many cigarette smokers to wonder if e-cigarettes will help them stop smoking and many parents to wonder if e-cigarettes are safe for kids to use.
Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids, including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin, has nearly quadrupled. In September, for the first time, the White House designated a Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week. As part of this awareness week, President Obama called for expanding access to prevention and treatment services for opioid use disorders.
The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, calls for a wholesale change to the way we address substance use and addiction in our country by treating it as a health issue rather than a moral failing. The blueprint set forth in the report is comprehensive and multi-faceted, but the prominent theme that underlies its findings and recommendations is the importance of research in informing addiction policy, prevention and treatment. This recognition of the critical role that research should play in transforming addiction care will have a profound effect on improving access to treatment and reducing the stigma surrounding addiction that has long served as a barrier to effective prevention, treatment and policy.
The new Surgeon General’s report, which presents a comprehensive public health approach to addressing the scourge of addiction in our society, is just the impetus our nation needs to finally implement a research-based rather than a punitive and moralistic approach to addiction care.
The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health was released today and shines a much needed spotlight on substance misuse and addiction and provides a long overdue call for significant changes to how we address this top public health problem. We applaud the Surgeon General for fully embracing addiction as a medical condition, a position Center on Addiction has long held and which is reflected in our mission to connect science with policy and practice to better the lives of all people impacted by substance use and addiction.
As we continue to read and hear dire stories about the heroin epidemic, new and more dangerous opioids seem to be emerging at a rapid pace. Another narcotic that is now a part of this epidemic is called carfentanil. Though it is sold mixed into – or “cut” with – heroin and other drugs, carfentanil is so potent that even the smallest dose can cause an overdose and death.
It’s no secret that drinking is a major issue on college campuses. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that alcohol consumption on campuses is so embedded in college culture that it is often considered a rite of passage. Yet drinking and particularly binge drinking in college remains a serious public health concern.
As Americans continue to struggle with opioid addiction, many blame the pharmaceutical industry for driving the problem through the extensive marketing of pain medicine and promoting prescribing practices that many regard as reckless. A recent Los Angeles Times investigation focused on the pharmaceutical company Purdue and their opioid pain medication OxyContin. They found that Purdue pushed OxyContin on patients and physicians in ways many would find unethical, if not illegal. Additionally, the company helped convince Americans that opioid medications weren’t just for those in agony from cancer or major surgery – but that drugs like OxyContin could be used for much more manageable forms of short-term as well as chronic pain.
Have you ever come home from work and had a few glasses of wine to wind down only to wake up the next morning feeling like you didn’t get a good night’s sleep? There is a reason why people use alcohol to relax and help them fall asleep: alcohol does actually speed up this process, but the science shows that the consequences outweigh the benefits. The truth is, although alcohol makes you think you’re getting a better sleep, it’s actually more harmful than helpful for your rest.
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