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Research
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?"  
Insurers slighting claims for non-opioid pain treatments
Despite the opioid epidemic, health insurers are still failing to reimburse chronic pain patients for effective non-opioid treatments, including psychological counseling and acupuncture. Even coverage for physical and occupational therapy varies widely in terms of the number of visits allowed, and whether prior authorization is required.
Using blockchain to fight the opioid crisis. What’s hype and what’s not?
Blockchain expert Victoria Adams is no stranger to the devastation of the opioid epidemic. She watched in dismay as her daughter became addicted to prescription opioids, cycling in and out of rehab centers only to relapse days, months, or years later. Now, Adams is one of the most outspoken voices in a growing movement to enlist blockchain—the new, secure, record-keeping technology—into the battle against the opioid crisis. She travels to conferences across the country, where she argues passionately for radical new approaches to fighting the epidemic in front of audiences of staid healthcare IT executives.
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.)
Reducing Rx opioid use will save lives over time: modeling study
A mathematical modeling study by Stanford researchers, published today, concludes that while reducing access to prescription opioids may initially spur some users to migrate to heroin use, it will save thousands of lives over a 10-year time horizon.
Nora Volkow on MAT, naloxone, new drugs, and why opioids are unique
This is part 2 of an interview with Nora Volkow, MD, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse for the past 15 years.
Nora Volkow on prescription opioids, chronic pain and ‘hype’
Research psychiatrist Nora Volkow, MD—the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse for the past 15 years—is one of the world's foremost authorities on opioid and other addictions.
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