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Opioid addicted teens not being screened for infectious disease
As America’s youth fall victim to the opioid epidemic, new evidence suggests that doctors aren’t appropriately screening teens for infectious diseases like hepatitis C and HIV. Only about one-third of teenagers and young adults who report opioid misuse are being tested for hepatitis C by their healthcare providers, according to a new study by Boston Medical Center researchers. This is so, even though about 10 percent of those who are tested are found to have been exposed to the virus.
Drug overdose deaths decline for sixth straight month
Drug overdose deaths in the United States have now fallen for six straight months, according to the CDC’s most recent data, dropping 2.8 percent from their peak. Similarly, the subset of those deaths attributable to opioid drugs has steadily declined over the same period, falling 2.3 percent. The modest, but steady, declines are reflected in “provisional” data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which are subject to adjustment as additional data come in. The promising new figures corroborate and extend a trend we noted two months ago in an article entitled, "Have drug overdose deaths peaked?"  
Tapering off long-term Rx opioids: a first-hand account
“It was just an intense burning throughout the whole body,” says Laura. “It feels like you’re on fire, but it also feels like everything inside is, like, cut up or bleeding. Just everything’s raw, and a terrible kind of gripping. It’s a very emotional type pain, too. More than any other pain I’ve had, it’s a very depressive pain.” Laura is a chronic pain patient who is recounting, in a continuing medical education video, a particularly trying moment in the agonizing process of reducing her opioid medication dosage—that is, tapering.
Pain doctors, advocates urge curbs on “forced opioid tapering”
Last week more than 100 healthcare professionals and pain advocates signed a letter urging the Department of Health and Human Services to “prohibit or minimize rapid, forced opioid tapering in outpatients.” The letter was drafted by Beth Darnall, PhD, a pain psychologist at Stanford Medical School. It addresses the plight of chronic pain patients who were prescribed very high doses of opioids in the past, but who—whipsawed by rapid changes in medical consensus about the risks and benefits of such medication—are suddenly finding that they can no longer obtain their medications at such dosages. An estimated 18 million Americans are now on long-term prescription opioid therapies.
Is denying inmates their methadone illegal? A truly compelling lawsuit
For two years Geoffrey Pesce has been in steady, courageous recovery from a nearly lethal heroin addiction. But state officials are set to put an end to that, placing his life into a guaranteed nosedive. They might start as soon as this afternoon. Pesce’s fate now depends on the actions or inaction of a federal judge in Boston. She is hearing a momentous lawsuit, brought by ACLU lawyers, that seeks to force county officials to let Pesce continue his vital methadone treatments in jail, where he is slated to serve time for driving with a suspended license.
New heroin use sharply down in 2017, undercutting common narrative
The number of new heroin users fell by more than half in 2017, according to the latest national drug survey, which was unveiled Friday. “One of the most important findings,” said SAMHSA chief Elinore McCance-Katz in announcing the results in a webcast, “is the very steep decline in new users of heroin from 2016.” New initiates to that drug dropped from 170,000 to 81,000.
Have drug overdose deaths peaked?
With provisos, the CDC’s data over the last four to six months suggest that drug overdose deaths, including opioid-related deaths, may have peaked. Just over a year ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began publishing monthly provisional overdose fatality figures for rolling 12-month periods, which it had been collecting for several years. (The data is not final, and is subject to adjustment as additional data comes in—the first proviso.)
Navdeep Kang: Treat opioid addiction like a heart condition
Navdeep Kang, who has a doctorate in psychology, is part of a team of doctors and administrators who’ve pushed Mercy Health emergency room physicians to treat people with addiction disorders like cancer patients, offering them treatment drugs and prompt placement in a rehab center.
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