The opioid crisis may be far worse than thought, making the epidemic harder to fight

There may be a gross underreporting of opioid-related death rates

 

As Drug Overdose Deaths Escalate, Opioids Continue to Be the Top Killer

There may be a gross underreporting of opioid-related death rates, leading to misrepresentation about the extent of the epidemic, according to a new study.

A substantial share of the documentation on fatal drug overdoses may be missing information on the specific drug that caused the overdose.

The study, published in the journal “Addiction,” looked at a total of 632,331 drug overdoses between 1999 and 2016. Of these deaths, 78.2% were drug overdoses with known drug classification and 21.8% were unclassified drug overdoses. Of the unclassified drug overdoses, further investigation revealed that 71.8% involved opioids, translating to 99,160 additional opioid-related deaths.

There were over 70,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017, according to an estimate from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Based on findings from the new study, over half of those deaths — about 47,000 — are suspected to have involved opioids.

An issue with documenting drug overdose deaths

“The number of deaths from opioid-related overdoses could be 28% higher than reported due to incomplete death records,” said Elaine Hill, Ph.D., an economist and assistant professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center Department of Public Health Sciences and senior author of the study.

“Other work has already exposed the ways in which coroner versus medical examiner systems undermine accuracy in death records, but the opioid crisis and our research highlights the extent of the problem,” Hill told ABC News.

Death certificates issued after fatal drug overdoses are often missing information on the specific drug involved — something that is causing the underreporting of opioid-related deaths and downplaying the extent of the opioid epidemic, the authors of the new study concluded.

“The risk of underreporting these cases is to underscore the scope of the current crisis which could lead to a slower or less intensive response in coming up with a viable solution,” says Dr. Shailinder Singh, an emergency room psychiatrist practicing in New York City.

Besides overdose deaths, there are other consequences of the opioid epidemic including increased risk of infectious disease among IV drug users, a greater number of newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome and higher rates of emergency department visits for opioid involvement.

While the majority of overdose-related deaths in the past have involved an opioid, with illicit fentanyl as the primary driver of these deaths, however this data is likely underreported.

The rate of non-fatal overdoses has also increased and is likely underestimated. “Unless these individuals are able to receive urgent medical care and the case is reported in that manner, there is little incentive for a person to report the overdose themselves due to fear of possible litigation or stigmatization,” said Singh.

Three phases of the opioid epidemic

The opioid epidemic today progressed in three phases, according to the CDC. The first, involved deaths caused by prescription opioids, the second, an increase in heroin use, and the third, a surge in the use of synthetic opioids or fentanyl.

The United States is right in the middle of the third phase of the epidemic, due to the increasing availability of fentanyl and increasing rates of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids.

In 2017, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., had the highest overdose death rates in the country. However, accurate data is not being collected from rural areas and therefore these areas receive significantly less federal funding to combat the crisis.

“The rates of both lethal and non-lethal overdoses have undoubtedly increased due to the addition of synthetic opioids available as pills or mixed in with heroin,” said Singh.

“Most notably, these include illegally manufactured fentanyl and carfentanil, which are 50 times and up to 5,000 times more potent than heroin, respectively.” he added.

As the U.S. faces a rise in the number of overdose deaths involving heroin and fentanyl, the federal government has readjusted its strategy to combat the epidemic. This includes expanded access to treatment medications for opioid use and to the opioid overdose antidote, naloxone.

Also crucial among those efforts is collecting accurate data. Correct data regarding deaths from opioids is critical to know when implementing policies. Federal funding is also highly dependent on accurate statistics.

“Funding from federal agencies is often tagged to areas with the highest rates of opioid mortality. If these data are inaccurate, then areas in need may receive less funding than they need to address the crisis,” said Hill. (Click to Source)

Yalda Safai, MD, MPH, is a psychiatry resident in New York City. Melanie Graber, MD, is an internal medicine resident in Connecticut. Both are contributors to the ABC Medical News Unit.

 

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Surpassing Overdose: Study Links Opioids to Heart-Related Deaths

 

 

The opioid epidemic has been a topic of conversation for a years now. With doctors and pharmacies being instructed to be more careful with their prescribing of the medication, and some states even asking them to look up a patient’s drug history before dispensing the drugs, it comes as no surprise that abuse and overdose are two huge issues. However, research suggests that many patients, especially those on long-term opioids, are dying not only because of overdoses, but simply because they are using them for far too long.

The study, which reviewed 45,000 patients from Tennessee from 1999 to 2012, found that those who had been prescribed opioids had a 64% increased risk of dying within 6 months of starting a regimen of the pills, compared to patients who were on other types of medications.

Although overdose and sharing medication is certainly a risk, the study claims that many doctors prescribe medication without thinking about the risk they may have for cardiovascular patients.

Patients with heart problems are the most vulnerable, as long-term opioid use can lead to slowing down of the heart, particularly when mixed with alcohol. This can lead to an accidental death. Opioids are also particularly dangerous for patients with sleep apnea, as the pills can disrupt the patients’ breathing patterns even further. This can lead to irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, and in some cases, even death.

All of the patients in this study were on Medicaid and were receiving long-term opioids for problems such as backaches, and chronic asthma and bronchitis. None had a history of abusing drugs.

Because they were on Medicaid, it is possible that they were unable to access medication that would actually treat the problem they had, thus doctors were over-prescribing opioids for temporary relief of the symptoms without curative benefits.

Dr. Magdalena Anitescu, a pain management expert at the University of Chicago, stated that there needs to be a huge change in how treatment is regulated. She states that alternative treatments can be just as effective, however, patients need to be granted access and doctors need to be educated on what else can be done besides simply prescribe opioids.

“We have a major cultural shift ahead of us,” said Dr. Chad Brummett, director of pain research at the University of Michigan Health System. (Click to Source)

The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

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Trump administration doubles down on anti-marijuana position

TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY 
FEB 21, 2020  4:34 PM

 

Analysts previously predicted Donald Trump might support marijuana legalization to boost his chances of re-election this year. Instead, the opposite has happened. The Trump Administration has proposed removing medical marijuana protections in the 2021 fiscal budget and leaked audio revealed the President’s belief that smoking weed makes you dumb.

Trump has done little to reverse this appearance of an anti-marijuana sentiment building in the White House. Rather, a top Trump campaign spokesman doubled down and said marijuana should remain illegal at the federal level. During an interview with Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS-TV, Marc Lotter, who serves as director of strategic communications for Trump’s 2020 campaign, was asked about the President’s stance on changing federal cannabis laws.

“I think the president is looking at this from a standpoint of a parent—a parent of a young person—to make sure we keep our kids away from drugs,” Lotter said. “They need to be kept illegal. That is the federal policy.”

This complicates what Trump stated during his 2016 campaign and time in the White House. Previously, Trump supported leaving marijuana legalization to the states and voiced support for the STATES Act, bipartisan legislation that would prohibit federal prosecution for those living in states with legal cannabis.

“I think the president has been pretty clear on his views on marijuana at the federal level. I know many states have taken a different path,” Lotter said.

It could also signal a change in political strategy from the president in the upcoming election. Outside candidates Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg, the Democratic presidential nominee will support legalizing cannabis at the federal level. Trump could see it as an advantage to position himself opposite of his eventual opponent. For now, Trump appears comfortable allowing himself being seen as someone who will uphold federal cannabis prohibition.

Said Lotter, “If he changes that, obviously that would be something I wouldn’t want to get out in front of him on that.” (Click to Source)

 

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Long-term use of depression drug may cause addiction

 

In a new study, researchers say that people who have taken antidepressants for years should consider coming off the medication.

However, these people will likely face difficult and even dangerous withdrawal symptoms due to physical dependence.

The best process is to follow a tapering schedule while consulting with a physician. Stopping medication outright is almost never advisable.

The research was conducted by a team at Midwestern University Chicago.

The team says many people feel safe in that their depression or anxiety is continuously managed by medication.

However, these are mind-altering drugs and were never intended as a permanent solution.

Once the patient’s depression or anxiety has been resolved, the physician should guide them toward discontinuation, while providing non-pharmacologic treatments to help them maintain their mental health.

In the study, the team found patients who stop taking their medication often experience Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome (ADS), which includes flu-like symptoms, insomnia, nausea, imbalance, sensory disturbances often described as electric shocks or “brain zaps”, and hyperarousal.

Older, first-generation antidepressants often come with additional risks for more severe symptoms, including aggressiveness, catatonia, cognitive impairment, and psychosis.

Discontinuing any antidepressant also carries a risk for gradual worsening or relapsing of depression and anxiety, as well as suicidal thoughts.

A recent report from the CDC said a quarter of people taking antidepressants had been using them for a decade or more.

The team says this data makes the case that patients and physicians are overly reliant on medication without concern for long-term consequences.

While relatively safe, antidepressants still carry side effects, including weight gain, sexual dysfunction and emotional numbing.

The team also urges caution as the evidence for antidepressant risk factors is based on short-term usage and says there are no sufficient longitudinal studies on the neurologic impact of taking antidepressants for decades.

The lead author of the study is Mireille Rizkalla, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical Integration. (Click to Source)

The study is published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Copyright © 2019 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.

 

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Opioid vending machine opens in Vancouver

MySafe scheme for addicts aims to help reduce overdose deaths in Canadian city

 

A vending machine for powerful opioids has opened in Canada as part of a project to help fight the Canadian city’s overdose crisis.

The MySafe project, which resembles a cash machine, gives addicts access to a prescribed amount of medical quality hydromorphone, a drug about twice as powerful as heroin.

Dr Mark Tyndall, a professor of epidemiology at the University of British Columbia, came up with the project as part of an attempt to reduce the number of overdose deaths in the city, which reached 395 last year.

“I think ethically we need to offer people a safer source,” he said. “So basically the idea is that instead of buying unknown fentanyl from an alley, we can get people pharmaceutical-grade drugs.”

Don Durban, a social worker from Vancouver, is one of 14 opioid addicts using the MySafe vending machine. After being prescribed opioid-based painkillers in the early 2000s, the father of two developed an addiction and now feels unable to cope without a daily dose of hydromorphone.

Unlike most addicts, Durban, 66, does not have to break the law by sourcing his fix through drug dealers. Instead he is prescribed Dilaudid – the brand name for hydromorphone – and, for the past couple of weeks, has been able to collect his pills from a vending machine near his home in Eastside, a rundown neighbourhood with a large homeless community.

“This is a godsend,” he told the Guardian during one of his visits to the machine. After verifying his identity with a biometric fingerprint scan, the machine dispensed Durban with three pills for each of his four daily visits, in line with his prescription.

“It means I don’t have to go and buy iffy dope,” he said. “I have a clean supply. I don’t have to deal with other people so much. You’re treated like an adult, not some kind of demonic dope fiend. We’re just people with mental health issues.”

Vancouver already has several schemes in place to accommodate for its large community of drug addicts. A pioneer of so-called harm reduction techniques, Vancouver was the first North American city to introduce a supervised injection site – where users can administer drugs in front of medical professionals – in 2003, and there are now several in the area. There are also programmes allowing users to access prescribed Dilaudid or pharmaceutical heroin.

Tyndall believes his scheme, which he hopes to roll out in other cities, will help addicts by giving them more autonomy – allowing them to pick up supplies at their convenience without having to visit pharmacies at specific times.

However, the MySafe project and Vancouver’s other harm-reduction techniques are not universally popular.

Dr Mark Ujjainwalla, an addictions doctor who runs Recovery Ottawa in eastern Canada, says users of illegal drugs need treatment for their conditions rather than easier access to substances. He argues such schemes are in effect ushering users towards death, rather than treating curable conditions.

“If you were a patient addicted to fentanyl [and you came to me], I would say: ‘OK, I will put you in a treatment centre for one to three months, get you off the fentanyl, get you stable, get your life back together and then you’ll be fine.’ Why would I want to give you free heroin and tell you to go to a trailer and inject?

“I’ve got people here who have changed their lives. They were in jail, prostituting, and they came to my clinic, we put them on methadone, they got their lives back, they’re working again. Isn’t that a better story?”

Ujjainwalla also fears drugs distributed from machines such as MySafe could end up on the black market.

Dr Ricky Bluthenthal, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, disagrees. “It’s always better for someone to use licitly produced, safe medication rather than illicitly produced or illicitly distributed substance, which often have contaminants and other things that are unhealthy for people,” he said.

Durban also believes the machine will help him back to good health. “My long-term aim is to get off of [these drugs],” he said. “What I’ll do is try to get down to a minimal dose and then if it starts acting up again, I’ll see Mark and ask him to bring it up again.” (Click to Source)

 

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Marketing Psychiatric Drugs to Jailers and Judges

Drug companies are courting jails and judges through sophisticated marketing efforts.

 
On a rainy Monday morning in April, more than a hundred sheriffs, doctors, nurses, and jail guards from around the country sat in a ballroom on the outskirts of Nashville, sipping on coffees and listening to Daniel Potenza, a psychiatrist from New Hampshire, describe one of their most vexing problems: treating schizophrenia.

The conference, on medical care inside America’s jails and prisons, had been put on by an organization that sets standards for treatment in correctional facilities. Potenza paced the stage, talking animatedly about a national mental-health epidemic that had burdened jails and prisons. He flipped to a presentation slide showing that nearly half of all inmates diagnosed with schizophrenia were “non-adherent,” meaning that they weren’t taking their daily medications as prescribed.

Then, Potenza suggested a solution: a single shot of long-acting antipsychotic medicine, whose effects last for as long as three months, administered to patients while they’re still incarcerated. To show how this might help, Potenza presented a hypothetical scenario in which an inmate with schizophrenia becomes eligible for release but is denied parole because a medical provider describes the person as non-adherent. Parole-board members might be willing to reconsider if they could ensure that the person would receive his or her medications as prescribed ahead of release. In some cases, a “treatment resistant” patient who is simply forgetful might agree to the shot. However, in some cases, a judge might order a shot to be administered without the patient’s permission.

Potenza didn’t recommend a specific drug, and he was presenting at the conference at his employer’s expense, having been invited by its organizers.  But if you looked inside the conference program, you would learn that the keynote address on schizophrenia had been underwritten by Alkermes, an Irish company that manufactures one of the long-acting medicines, Aristada. If you walked through the exhibit hall, you would see Alkermes banners hanging from the rafters, along with a booth of salespeople expounding on the benefits of the antipsychotic drug. An Aristada flyer they passed out featured two buildings—a guard tower surrounded by a razor-wire fence, and a community health center—with the slogan “Transition of care takes time.”

For most of the twentieth century, pharmaceutical companies expressed little interest in inmates. People in need of mental-health treatment often received it at state-run psychiatric hospitals. But in the 1950s and ’60s, states began shuttering many of America’s psychiatric hospitals, pushing patients toward treatment in their communities. Then, in the 1980s and ’90s, lawmakers passed “tough on crime” policies that dramatically expanded the nation’s corrections population. Taken together, those developments had the unintended consequence of turning jails and prisons into warehouses for the mentally ill. By 2005, more than a million adults behind bars had some form of mental illness, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The dramatic shift in American mental-health care presented new opportunities for pharmaceutical companies. Correctional officials are required by law to provide adequate health care, including prescription drugs, to inmates. They also have an imperative to try to make sure people have enough medication when they are released to tide them over until they can seek care on their own. Federal researchers have found that releasing inmates with a supply of medication, and connecting them to community-based treatment, has lowered the odds of recidivism. But by the turn of the millennium, psychiatric-drug prices were rising. As early as the 2000s, to help mitigate costs, local officials in some states, including Washington and Ohio, sought free samples of antipsychotic medications from pharmaceutical companies.

Since then, the relationship between drug companies and the criminal-justice system seems to have intensified: free samples to detention facilities; comped lunches during which jail and prison doctors learn about medications; and payments to physicians to tout certain medications at conferences for criminal-justice professionals, including those without health-care licenses such as sheriffs and drug-court judges. At recent conferences about correctional health care, Merck, Gilead, AbbVie, and other big pharmaceutical companies have staged “product theaters” or “education luncheons” that show how their products could help treat inmates. The criminal-justice system isn’t just a lucrative market because of current inmates; it also introduces incarcerated people to medication that they might continue using after they’re released. (The full cash price of Aristada is about $1,300 for a four-week shot. The drug is covered by Medicaid and Medicare but can still require hefty copays.)

Dr. Joseph Penn, the director of mental-health services for the Correctional Managed Care division of the University of Texas Medical Branch, which oversees treatment in many of the state’s jails and prisons, says drug companies have awakened to the potential market behind bars. “No other country incarcerates as many people as we do, and they realized, ‘Hey, that’s a whole market we haven’t tapped,’” Penn said.

Long-acting schizophrenia drugs, in particular, can be an effective medication for inmates who might otherwise resist treatment, potentially leading to a safer and more predictable environment for them and for the correctional officers on shift. Potenza, the doctor who presented at the Tennessee conference, told me that meetings with drug companies allow doctors like him “to understand the benefits, despite the amplification”—of a particular drug’s merits—“from the company reps.” And free samples of these drugs can make them more accessible.

But despite having benefits for detention facilities and prisoners—free drugs, more information about new treatments—these marketing efforts have raised worries among criminal-justice advocates that drug companies could influence both the prescribing habits of correctional doctors and the choices of non-health-care professionals such as sheriffs and drug-court judges. A recent ProPublica analysis found that doctors who accepted money from pharmaceutical companies for top brand-name drugs were more likely to prescribe those companies’ medicines than doctors who did not. And Dominic Sisti, a medical-ethics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, worries that nonmedical professionals might not be able to analyze drug companies’ marketing messages the way doctors can. “It’s a sales pitch,” Sisti said.

Potenza said that audiences should “apply a keen eye as to anything that is biased.” Dr. Brent Gibson, the chief health officer for the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, which organized the conference at which Potenza presented, said in an email that Alkermes and other sponsoring companies do not have input into presentations like Potenza’s. “We do reserve the right to not accept financial support from a corporate entity that is in conflict with our mission, but we do not feel that is the case with pharmaceutical companies that offer medications that can be useful in the correctional setting,” he wrote.

While drug companies have long marketed to people in a position to help patients make decisions, critics say their efforts in the criminal-justice sphere are particularly troubling because the patients involved, being incarcerated, may not feel that they have as much of a say in their own health-care decisions.

John Snook, the executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, a group that calls for better mental-health treatment, said, “If you’re a jailer, and someone says, ‘We’re going to provide you with a solution that gets regular levels of therapeutic medicine to a population that’s difficult for you to control’”—in the form of samples of psychiatric drugs—“that’s going to be extremely attractive.”

But David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project, expressed concern about whether this kind of marketing, aimed at jailers and judges rather than incarcerated people themselves, further diminishes the agency of prisoners, who are disempowered in nearly every facet of life behind bars. Even in cases where incarcerated patients elect to take a psychiatric drug, he said, it may be a choice made under duress, knowing that they may be medicated against their will if they refuse. “If you know you can be forcibly medicated, can you really make a free and noncoercive choice about medication?” he said.

Geoff Mogilner, a spokesman for Alkermes, said, “We expect healthcare professionals to utilize their independent clinical judgment to continually assess, with their patient’s input, how a medication is working and to recommend the medication that works best.”

Alkermes, which manufactures drugs for conditions that are disproportionately found behind bars—such as schizophrenia and alcohol and opioid addiction—is among several companies that have embraced the criminal-justice system as a source of customers. Starting in the early 2010s, Alkermes promoted Vivitrol, a treatment for opioid-use disorder, to correctional facilities. The treatment, generically known as naltrexone, had previously been used for alcohol-use disorder, but the drug floundered. When Alkermes recast it as a solution to the opioid epidemic, the company directly lobbied jailers and judges on the shot’s merits, selling the promise of the drug despite scant evidence of its effectiveness compared to competing treatments like buprenorphine, one of the active ingredients in the brand-name drug Suboxone. In closed-door meetings, Alkermes disparaged Suboxone as a “black market” drug that was illegally abused inside correctional facilities, according to a report from The New York Times. The company’s marketing practices received blowback. (Alkermes has pointed to studies it says offer further evidence for Vivitrol’s effectiveness. In some cases, the company has pushed back against criticisms. Earlier this month, in response to a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration, the company responded that it was taking steps to be “fully compliant” with federal regulations.) Alkermes accomplished its goal: People received Vivitrol while behind bars, and kept using it once they were released. Today Vivitrol is widely available in treatment facilities across the country, in part thanks to this early push.

Drugmakers introduced long-acting schizophrenia shots more than 50 years ago as a way to infuse consistency into psychosis treatment. But some psychiatrists and mental-health advocates were skeptical because of concerns about extended exposure to side effects such as sleepiness and low blood pressure, and because the shots seemed like “an attempt by psychiatrists to impose their will on patients,” according to a paper by Ahsan Khan, a psychiatrist at Saint Louis University, and colleagues.

As long-acting antipsychotic drugs improved, along with their public image, drug companies thought they could reinvigorate the market. In July 2009, the Food and Drug Administration approved Invega Sustenna, a long-acting, injectable form of an earlier antipsychotic pill made by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen brand. Abilify Maintena, from a Japanese company called Otsuka Pharmaceutical, followed four years later. Then came Aristada, green-lit in 2015.

Within the multibillion-dollar schizophrenia-drug market, the makers of all three drugs are seeking to cast long-acting injections as the future of schizophrenia treatment. A 2015 study by the University of California, Los Angeles, found that patients who were given such injections were more likely to adhere to treatment and see reduced symptoms over a 12-month period, compared to those taking the same medication orally. But there’s also a chance that side effects will last longer than with the pill form, and that’s one of the key reasons some psychiatrists still start with the pill.

Recognizing the importance of detention facilities in the mental-health market—approximately 15 percent of state prisoners experience serious mental illness, more than three times the rate found in the total U.S. adult population—drugmakers are, to varying degrees, marketing the long-acting drugs to criminal-justice audiences.

Janssen, whose schizophrenia drug leads the market, offers free samples and financially supports advocacy groups aimed at keeping individuals with mental illnesses out of jails. Last year, the company won approval from the FDA to market Invega Sustenna as a treatment that can keep schizophrenic patients out of jail. Before then, Janssen could market the drug’s ability to treat schizophrenia but not make further claims about how it might help incarcerated populations.

Once it got the additional approval, Janssen rolled out video testimonials of formerly incarcerated individuals receiving injections, including a 31-year-old woman identified only as “Tanara” who was incarcerated after a fight with a neighbor. Tanara explained that the injection allowed her to not worry about missing daily pills for schizophrenia and helped her get a steady job as a peer-support specialist after she was released.

Kaitlin Meiser, a Janssen spokeswoman, said free samples allow doctors to “familiarize themselves with the medicine and for patients to try the medicine and determine if it is the right fit for them.” But she noted that the company does not have any “concerted” efforts to specifically educate correctional doctors through the use of paid speakers or free meals.

Otsuka’s criminal-justice efforts appear more limited. Public records show that psychiatrists who have worked in corrections have received payments or perks from Otsuka, but Robert Murphy, a spokesman, said the company’s marketing does not specifically target the criminal-justice system. It has offered free samples of Abilify Maintena to just one correctional system, in Maricopa County, Arizona—and that was on request. He also said that Otsuka has not made “any payments for meals or speaking fees at any meetings or conferences where the audience was doctors or individuals who work with jails, prisons, or courts.”

Aristada, a relative newcomer in the antipsychotic-injection sector, trails behind Invega Sustenna and Abilify Maintena. As Alkermes seeks to catch up, it has provided the treatment in 40 correctional facilities in 18 states, offering free samples to many of them. And it has paid doctors to speak at criminal-justice conferences about its potential, as well as designing advertisements that depict people reentering society thanks to the shot. Two doctors told me Alkermes paid them to participate in focus-group panels where they were asked by company representatives about how to market the shot to criminal-justice officials.

Mogilner, the Alkermes spokesman, did not answer specific questions about the company’s marketing and sales tactics but noted that they are, to a large degree, no different from other companies’ efforts. He wrote in an email that Aristada can offer people leaving prison or jail “consistent and sustained” treatment during “the often-challenging transition back to the community.”

Corrections officials don’t have to exclusively prescribe Aristada in exchange for free samples, Mogilner added, or continue prescribing the shot after the samples run out. “We work to educate healthcare professionals and other stakeholders with whom they work about the treatment of schizophrenia in diverse settings of care, including criminal justice healthcare settings, community mental health centers, and hospitals,” he wrote. “No one medicine is right for every patient.”

Several health-care officials and practitioners told me that free samples of long-acting antipsychotic shots have helped their patients in the criminal-justice system access helpful drugs that would otherwise be too expensive for them to offer. “Funding is always an issue,” Rachel Waddell, a nurse practitioner who treats inmates in a 662-bed jail in Rapid City, South Dakota, told me. The jail has provided samples of Aristada to 10 inmates but hasn’t accepted payments from drug companies, or perks such as free lunches. “With Alkermes, we don’t have to jump through hoops.”

Officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, have not taken perks or payments from drug companies, but they have accepted free samples of long-acting shots from Janssen, Otsuka, and Alkermes. Grant Phillips, the medical director of Maricopa County’s correctional-health services, said that nearly 120 inmates are on long-acting shots and that they work well. More than half of those are ordered by judges, he said, but judges leave it up to doctors to decide which product is best for their patients. The medication consumes a fifth of the total pharmacy budget for a jail population of about 7,500.

While some jail officials see mostly an upside in drug companies’ marketing efforts, others say it’s more complicated. Jeff Gromer, the former warden of the Minnehaha County Jail in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, said he hasn’t accepted perks or consulting payments, but he has given samples of Aristada to 16 patients since 2018; their symptoms stabilized while on the drug. “When you put someone with anxiety and paranoia in [a jail] environment, it gets hard for them to cope,” Gromer said. “When they can’t cope, there’s behavioral problems such as self-harm or aggression toward inmates or staff, or hiding in their cell.” Still, he’s wary of Alkermes’s efforts to reach patients by marketing to criminal-justice officials overseeing them. “Alkermes’s hope is that the prescription is continued once they’re out of custody, and they’re going to get paid for that,” he said. (Alkermes didn’t comment on Gromer’s characterization.)

Penn, the doctor working with Texas prisons, said his system does not accept samples from drug companies at all and restricts the perks or payments doctors receive. While patients in Texas prisons are sometimes prescribed long-acting antipsychotic drugs—typically as a last resort—Penn expressed concern, noting that “there’s not much literature” on them yet. Though more company-funded studies are emerging, he hasn’t seen enough “good head-to-head studies of the medications,” he said.

Alkermes and other drug companies have marketed not only to jailers but to judges as well. Earlier this year, at a conference for drug- and mental-health-court professionals in Maryland, Alkermes sponsored a closed-door promotional session about using long-acting shots in a court setting. Featured at the session was Richard Jackson, a former psychiatrist at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and Ernie Glenn, a magistrate in Bexar County, Texas, who had helped defendants in his court get access to long-acting antipsychotic shots. While Glenn had received no payments from Alkermes, the company had paid Jackson more than $250,000 between 2015 and 2018 for speeches, travel and lodging, and meals, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’s open payments database. (Jackson also received $252,608 in payments from Otsuka from 2015 to 2018, and said he has continued receiving payments from drug companies in 2019; it wasn’t immediately clear whether Alkermes was one of them.) The conference program, as in the conference in Nashville, directed people to learn about Aristada at Alkermes’s exhibit booth. “It wouldn’t matter to me if the info was sponsored by one company or all the companies, so long as the info about the medication gets out to the public,” Glenn later told me.

“A lot of people in corrections … they’re not even aware,” Jackson said of long-acting injections. “If you’re not getting educated, you’re not using them, there’s no way it’ll ever be afforded to those prisoners.”

Judge Robin Faber, who presides over a Miami-Dade County court division that aims to divert inmates into mental-health treatment, has not been the target of marketing by Alkermes or any other pharmaceutical firm but said he sees the potential of long-acting drugs in his sixth-floor courtroom. One sweltering afternoon in early September, a young man named Chris Sellers took off his orange cap and slouched into the back of Faber’s courtroom. (Sellers’s name has been changed; Faber, Sellers’s lawyer, and Sellers allowed The Atlantic to sit in the courtroom, which isn’t open to the public, on the condition that his real name not be used.) Faber was reviewing Sellers’s medical records.

“You look good,” Faber said. The first time Faber had met Sellers, several months earlier, Sellers had recently been arrested for stealing a $20 T-shirt. Having looked at his records, along with his initial health assessment from a doctor, Faber felt Sellers’s nonviolent offenses were linked to untreated mental illness, and decided to require treatment instead of incarceration. At the time, to ensure that Sellers received his medication, Faber ordered an involuntary shot for his schizophrenia. Faber believed that Sellers would reoffend without it—and hoped that it would break his cycle of incarceration. As Faber continued reviewing the records, he noticed that Sellers had since received another long-acting shot. “That’s probably helping a lot,” Faber said, agreeing to keep Sellers on the treatment regimen instead of sending him to the Dade County Jail.

After Sellers’s hearing, Faber told me he defers to doctors regarding which medications patients should get. Ernesto Grenier, a psychiatrist at Jackson Health, the medical provider for three of Miami-Dade County’s jails, is often the one choosing those drugs.

When I spoke with Grenier, he told me that Jackson Health prohibits free samples from pharmaceutical companies. But, on occasion, Grenier has listened to pitches from Otsuka, Janssen, and Alkermes. From 2016 to 2018, he accepted food or drinks from the three companies 22 times, for a total of $949.92. He said he does not typically prescribe Aristada—which he considers less proven than some other drugs because it is newer—and dismissed the notion that free lunches or drinks from any drugmaker might have influenced his care. “They all say theirs is the best,” Grenier said. “We choose medication based on the patient.” (Click to Source)


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Big Pharma’s addictive opioids are causing the ruination of society

Thursday, December 26, 2019 by: Isabelle Z.

(Natural News) Opioid addicts aren’t the only ones suffering from the drug. The crisis is now ruining society in ways that we are only beginning to grasp, and it’s all thanks to greedy pharmaceutical companies who care more about profits than people.

For example, opioid addicts desperate for their next fix are contributing to a spike in retail theft. Case in point: Home Depot executives are blaming the opioid crisis for the surge in thefts hitting their stores across the nation, something they say is going to hurt their operating profit margins.

In a phone call to investors, CEO Craig Menear said he believes the opioid crisis could be behind their financial woes, and he said it’s something that is happening everywhere in retail.

He recounted to investors how thieves were caught trying to steal $16.5 million of goods on one occasion, of which $1.4 million was destined for their stores. Some of their locations have resorted to taking high-value products like power tools off of their sales floors to prevent loss.

Home Depot’s operating profit margins are expected to drop to 14 percent in 2020 on account of the increased thefts, according to Bloomberg. Although it’s not clear how much of this can be attributed to the opioid crisis, it’s clear there is a big problem.

According to the National Retail Federation, retailers lose $51 billion per year on average, and that’s something they expect to rise in the coming years because of the opioid crisis. They say that more than two thirds of retailers have reported a rise in “organized retail crime activity” in the last year.

The crisis is taking a huge toll on the economy

It’s not just Home Depot and other retailers who are taking a hit; the crisis is taking a massive toll on the economy. An analysis by the Society of Actuaries shows that the total economic cost of the nation’s opioid crisis reached $631 billion from 2015 to 2018, which is greater than the GDP of nations like Belgium, Taiwan and Sweden.

Almost a third of the costs, amounting to around $186 billion, were shouldered by local, state and federal governments to deal with the rise in deaths, legal expenses and health care spending related to the crisis, while $445 billion fell on the private sector and individuals.

$205 billion of the estimated financial losses went to the excess health care spending needed for these people’s inpatient and outpatient visits and care for family members. There’s also the impact opioid use has on newborns, who can suffer medical problems and withdrawals when born to parents who abuse the drugs.

Meanwhile, criminal justice costs accounted for $39 billion. This includes expenses like legal fees, correctional facility costs, and police protection.

While health care costs and retail losses are somewhat easy to measure, society is suffering in many other ways, too. People’s lives are being ruined, their livelihoods are being destroyed, and their families are being torn apart thanks to the opioid crisis. Big Pharma is to blame for aggressively marketing these dangerous drugs to people who clearly didn’t need them in the first place, setting them on a downward spiral that is very difficult to break out of.

Rather than show remorse for their actions, some drug company employees have the audacity to joke about the crisis. For example, leaked emails showed two callous executives making light of the deadly crisis, writing things like “Keep ‘em comin’! Flyin’ out of there. It’s like people are addicted to these things or something. Oh wait, people are…” and “Just like Doritos keep eating. We’ll make more.”

According to the CDC, nearly 400,000 people died of opioid overdoses in the years from 1999 to 2017, and many others are living with the effects of the crisis. It’s already impacting countless people who have never even touched the drug, and as long as there’s money to be made, this is a problem that isn’t about to go away. (Click to Source)

Sources for this article include:

ZeroHedge.com

CBSNews.com

Independent.co.uk


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VIDEO: America collapses into a pharma state; just like a “narco state” but run by prescription drug cartels

12/02/2019 / By Mike Adams

A “narco state” is a nation where nearly every aspect of society — politics, law enforcement, media, etc. — is controlled by narcotics traffickers. Mexico is a modern-day narco state.

America has collapsed into a pharma state, where all the most powerful corporations, regulators and government entities are beholden to pharmaceutical interests.

  • The establishment media is largely funded by Big Pharma and uses its influence to promote pharmaceuticals while attacking nutrition and natural supplements.
  • Federal regulators like the FDA and CDC function as little more than pharmaceutical cheerleading squads that hype the benefits of prescription medications (and vaccines) and protect Big Pharma’s profits through regulatory monopoly enforcement.
  • The techno fascists like Google, Facebook and Amazon are all-in for Big Pharma, promoting prescription drugs by censoring natural health information while pursuing their own for-profit medication and vaccine retailing operations.
  • Law enforcement is entirely controlled by Big Pharma, which is why the CEOs of powerful drug companies like GlaxoSmithKline are never indicted, even when that company admitted to running a nationwide bribery campaign involving 44,000 doctors. Instead of going to jail, they paid a fine to the DOJ and continue to conduct business as usual in the United States.
  • The judicial system is overtly rigged in favor of Big Pharma, too. The vaccine has absolute legal immunity against lawsuits stemming from the millions of children who are harmed (and in some cases killed) each year by faulty vaccines made with toxic, dangerous ingredients. In America, no parent can due a vaccine manufacturer for the damage caused to their child by childhood immunization vaccines.
  • The institution of “science” is totally corrupted by Big Pharma, and medical journals are almost entirely funded by pharmaceutical interests. Med schools teach doctors how to be little more than pharmaceutical vending machines, and even the “science” entries in Wikipedia are almost entirely engineered by Big Pharma sock puppets that pretend to be unbiased “editors.”
  • Lawmakers in Washington D.C. are bought and “owned” by Big Pharma campaign donations and well-funded lobbyists. The pharmaceutical industry has more paid lobbyists in D.C. than even the weapons manufacturing industry or the oil industry.
  • Even veterinary medicine is now totally corrupted by Big Pharma, to the point where vets largely just push vaccines and medications onto dogs, cats and even horses.
  • These same pharmaceutical giants are pushing the FDA to outlaw CBD products and criminalize even non-THC cannabis as a form of natural medicine. This is being done, of course, to protect the monopoly profits of the opioid manufacturers that are killing tens of thousands of Americans each year while raking in billions in profits.

Watch this powerful mini-documentary, below, to learn more about how America has collapsed into a “pharma state.” Share the video everywhere to help spread the word. Big Pharma is as grave a danger to the United States as the narcotics cartels are to Mexico. If we don’t end this pharmaceutical tyranny over America, this nation will collapse from runaway “health care” spending and pension payouts to the pharmaceutical giants.

Oh yeah, and Elizabeth Warren wants to pump another $51 trillion in Big Pharma’s pockets by unleashing “Medicare for All” which is nothing more than a massive taxpayer-funded windfall of profits for the drug companies and cancer centers that keep people sick and medicated.

https://www.brighteon.com/a0006c0a-e398-40dd-bad2-f9569916c690


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Purdue Pharma’s foreign affiliate now selling overdose cure

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The gleaming white booth towered over the medical conference in Italy in October, advertising a new brand of antidote for opioid overdoses. “Be prepared. Get naloxone. Save a life,” the slogan on its walls said.

Some conference attendees were stunned when they saw the company logo: Mundipharma, the international affiliate of Purdue Pharma — the maker of the blockbuster opioid, OxyContin, widely blamed for unleashing the American overdose epidemic.

Here they were cashing in on a cure.

“You’re in the business of selling medicine that causes addiction and overdoses, and now you’re in the business of selling medicine that treats addiction and overdoses?” asked Dr. Andrew Kolodny, an outspoken critic of Purdue who has testified against the company in court. “That’s pretty clever, isn’t it?”

As Purdue Pharma buckles under a mountain of litigation and public protest in the United States, its foreign affiliate, Mundipharma, has expanded abroad, using some of the same tactics to sell the addictive opioids that made its owners, the Sackler family, among the richest in the world. Mundipharma is also pushing another strategy globally: From Europe to Australia, it is working to dominate the market for opioid overdose treatment.

“The way that they’ve pushed their opioids initially and now coming up with the expensive kind of antidote — it’s something that just strikes me as deeply, deeply cynical,” said Ross Bell, executive director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation and a longtime advocate of greater naloxone availability. “You’ve got families devastated by this, and a company who sees dollar signs flashing.”

___

This story was produced with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

___

Mundipharma’s antidote, a naloxone nasal spray called Nyxoid, was recently approved in New Zealand, Europe and Australia. Mundipharma defended it as a tool to help those whose lives are at risk, and even experts who criticize the company say that antidotes to opioid overdoses are badly needed. Patrice Grand, a spokesman for Mundipharma Europe, said in a statement that heroin is the leading cause of overdose death in European countries and nasal naloxone is an important treatment option.

Injectable naloxone has long been available; it is generic and cheap. But Mundipharma’s Nyxoid is the first in many countries that comes pre-packaged as a nasal spray — an easier, less threatening way for those who witness an overdose to intervene. Nyxoid, which isn’t sold in the U.S., is more expensive than injectable naloxone, running more than $50 a dose in some European countries. A similar product manufactured by another pharmaceutical company has been available for years in the U.S. under the brand name Narcan.

Critics say Nyxoid’s price is excessive, particularly when inexpensive naloxone products already exist. Grand declined to say how much Nyxoid costs Mundipharma to manufacture or how profitable it has been.

The Sackler family’s pharmaceutical empire has long considered whether it might make money treating addiction, according to lawsuits filed against Purdue and the family. In the U.S., Purdue Pharma called its secret proposal Project Tango, the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York have alleged, and discussed it in a September 2014 conference call that included family member Kathe Sackler.

In internal documents, the lawsuits allege, Purdue illustrated the connection they had publicly denied between opioids and addiction with a graphic of a blue funnel. The top end was labeled “Pain treatment.” The bottom: “opioid addiction treatment.” The slideshow said they had an opportunity to become an “end-to-end provider” — opioids on the front end, and addiction treatment on the back end.

“It is an attractive market,” the staff wrote, according to the Massachusetts complaint. “Large unmet need for vulnerable, underserved and stigmatized patient population suffering from substance abuse, dependence and addiction.”

In its response to the court, the family’s lawyers wrote that the plan was put forward by a third-party private equity fund as a potential joint venture and “at the very most, Project Tango was mentioned in passing on a few occasions and the proposal was subsequently abandoned.” A press release issued by the Sacklers said no member of the family or board had an active role in the presentations or supported the proposal, and called the lawsuits “sensationalized” and “misleading.” Purdue declined to comment.

New York’s lawsuit alleges that in 2015, Project Tango was presented to Purdue’s board as a joint venture to sell the addiction medication suboxone that could become the “market lead in the addiction medicine space.” The presentation highlighted the sales opportunity in opioid addiction: 40 to 60 percent who went through treatment would relapse and need it again.

Project Tango stalled. It was revised the next year with a new plan to sell naloxone, the lawsuits allege.

Publicly, Purdue was denying that its painkillers caused the addiction epidemic. But in internal communications, the company described naloxone as a “strategic fit” and a “complementary” product to the prescription opioids they were already selling, the Massachusetts attorney general said. Purdue calculated that the need for overdose reversal medication was increasing so rapidly, potential revenue could triple from 2016 to 2018.

The lawsuit alleges that Purdue identified its own painkiller patients as a target market for naloxone — and that it could use its sales force already visiting doctors to promote opioids to also promote overdose reversal medication. They saw potential profits in government efforts to expand access to naloxone to stem the tide of overdose deaths, a toll that has soared to 400,000 since the American epidemic began.

Project Tango fizzled in the U.S.; the family’s press release said Purdue’s board rejected it.

But half a world away, in Australia, Mundipharma embarked on an effort to promote naloxone that was sweeping and effective.

As part of an Australian coroner’s investigation last year into six fatal opioid overdoses in New South Wales state, Mundipharma submitted a 15-page document touting the benefits of naloxone. If people around the overdose victims had had access to naloxone, the company wrote, many of those deaths may have been avoided. At the same time, Mundipharma was registering Nyxoid in Australia, a fact it acknowledged within its submission.

In the document, the company suggested that officials change the country’s laws to allow for easier access to naloxone, get naloxone into needle exchange programs, detox centers and supervised injecting clinics, and establish a national, free take-home naloxone program.

“The Coroner should consider what is needed to realise the full public health benefits of this essential medicine,” Mundipharma wrote.

During the coroner’s inquest, Mundipharma sent a staffer to court to testify about the benefits of naloxone nasal spray. According to a transcript, Mundipharma’s Medical Affairs Director, Brian Muller, came to court with samples of naloxone products, including Nyxoid.

Health and addiction experts also praised the drug’s life-saving potential. In her written findings delivered in March, Coroner Harriet Grahame agreed that naloxone should be more widely distributed and Nyxoid given to the state’s paramedics, police agencies, doctors and hospital emergency departments.

Mundipharma also paid for a drug policy institute’s study on naloxone that the federal government ultimately used as a blueprint for a 10 million Australian dollar ($6.8 million) pilot program to distribute naloxone, including Nyxoid. And in October, Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that Australia’s government would subsidize Nyxoid prescriptions, meaning it costs Australians as little as AU$6.50 ($4.50) per pack, versus around AU$50 without the subsidy.

Asked in an interview whether the government had any concerns about following the recommendations of a Mundipharma-funded report that stood to benefit the company financially, Hunt replied: “All of the advice is that this is a product that will save lives and protect lives and our approach is to be fearless of the source of the product.”

In a statement, Mundipharma Australia denied its Nyxoid push in the country had any connection to, or was influenced in any way, by Purdue’s Project Tango.

“Mundipharma Australia and Purdue Pharma are independent companies,” the Australian company wrote. “Mundipharma Australia introduced Nyxoid to help meet a clear clinical need.”

Grand, the spokesman for Mundipharma Europe, also rejected any link between the company’s Nyxoid strategy and Project Tango, saying that the European company and Purdue have separate managements, boards and strategies.

In some countries, including Norway, Nyxoid is the only nasal naloxone product approved, said Thomas Clausen, a professor at the University of Oslo in Norway who runs the nation’s naloxone program. Clausen is happy that Nyxoid is available, but not that a company profiting from mass marketing opioids is now trying to profit again off opioid addiction.

“It’s kind of a paradox,” he said.

Clausen said he hopes other companies will enter the market, and that competition will drive down cost. In its basic, generic form, Clausen said, naloxone is so cheap that the United Nations launched a pilot program in central Asian countries providing injectable naloxone at a cost of around $1 per kit.

Some critics argue that Mundipharma should be providing a cheaper — or even free — naloxone product, although Nyxoid’s cost is not remarkable when compared to the exorbitant price of many prescription drugs in the U.S. The most common nasal antidote in the U.S. retails for more than $100, double what most Europeans pay for Nyxoid.

Still, in some countries, Nyxoid’s price could prove problematic.

Pernilla Isendahl runs a naloxone distribution program in a county in south Sweden that began in June 2018, when Nyxoid came onto the market. Each kit costs the government 450 Swedish Krona ($47.)

The project is expected to run for at least three years, and she hopes after that the county will continue to pay for the medication, despite budget constraints.

“I can’t really see how it would be financed by the people themselves, at the price it is now,” she said.

In the United Kingdom, Nyxoid is being distributed by a handful of charities, said Peter Furlong, coordinator of British charity Change Grow Live’s Nyxoid distribution pilot program in Manchester. Furlong is pleased more people now have access to the medicine, but it still costs more than injectable naloxone. Furlong said he asked Mundipharma if they could reduce the drug’s price for the charity’s pilot, which began in August, but Mundipharma told him it was too early to talk discounts.

Grand, the spokesman for Mundipharma Europe, said the company was working closely with charities and addiction organizations to identify the best ways to make the drug available to those who may benefit from it. Nyxoid’s price reflects the company’s investment, manufacturing cost and the value of the technology, while recognizing the “prevailing financial pressures that exist within care sectors,” he said.

Stephen Wood, a fellow at the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics who studied how pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. raised prices on naloxone products as the addiction epidemic intensified, says that Sackler-owned companies manufacturing naloxone have an ethical duty to make it widely available.

“If they were trying to find a solution, they would just distribute naloxone for free,” he said. “They could use all that money they made off opioids to help support a program where they are giving away this life-saving medication.” (Click to Source)

___

The Global Opioids project can be seen here: https://www.apnews.com/GlobalOpioids


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42 Addiction Statistics and Facts to Know in 2019

 

We’ve compiled the following list of addiction statistics from several verified sources to help educate you. Addiction is a big problem throughout the world, with a lot of people battling various forms of the disease. Because of addiction’s prevalence in the world today, it has become necessary to know the various forms this problem takes and the effects these substances have on us.

When measuring addiction, it’s all about the quantity of the substance used and the frequency. In the US, the substance abuse facts show us that more than 23 million individuals from age 12 and up suffer from a type of substance abuse disorder.

These statistics cover several substances, including cocaine, alcohol, and prescription medications, to give a better idea of the challenges those with an addiction face. As the following data will show, these substances affect people across all genders, races, and economic backgrounds.

Important Addiction Statistics

This list contains some of our more intriguing statistics for a quick read:

  • People addicted to prescription drugs are 40 times more likely to be addicted to heroin.
  • Approximately 966,000 American adults struggled with a cocaine use disorder (CUD) in 2017.
  • Every year, 3.3 million fatalities result from the consumption of alcohol.
  • Meth is involved in 85%–90% of stimulant-related drug fatalities, thus seriously contributing to the drug problem in America.
  • In 2017, cocaine was associated with 1 out of 5 overdose-related fatalities.
  • Opioid painkillers account for 38.2% of drug overdose fatalities.
  • Doctors released 191,218,272 opioid prescriptions in 2017.
  • Approximately 80% of individuals who used heroin also misused prescription opioids.
  • Around 34 million Americans smoke cigarettes.
  • Genetics and the influence of the environment have a 40%–60% effect on a person’s chances of developing an addiction.

General Statistics on Addiction

Addiction Statistics - General Stats

1. Only 10% of Americans dealing with addiction receive treatment.

As stated earlier, there are over 23 million people in America struggling with at least one type of addiction. Out of these, very few get treatment. This leaves a lot of people trying to live with a substance addiction.

(USA Today)

2. More than 20% of Americans with an anxiety disorder also suffer from a drug use disorder.

This shows the direct relationship that anxiety and depression have with substance abuse. These may be factors that contribute to or affect drug abuse.

(NCBI)

3. Every year, 3.3 million fatalities occur due to alcohol consumption.

It’s also one of the leading causes of preventable deaths. These alcohol statistics include the results of short-term actions, such as reckless driving, or long-term health problems, such as cancer or liver disease.

(World Health Organization)

4. In 2017, approximately 38% of adults with substance use disorder symptoms had an illegal drug use disorder.

According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Illicit drug use refers to the abuse of any illegal drugs, as well as the misuse of certain prescription drugs. The list of illegal drugs includes heroin, marijuana, cocaine, inhalants, or methamphetamine.

(Bright Path Program)

5. Genetics and one’s environment have a large impact on addiction.

Why do people do drugs? Genetics, along with the impact one’s environment has on gene expression, accounts for about 40% to 60% of an individual’s risk of addiction.

(NCBI)

Teenage Drug Use Statistics (Ages 12–17)

6. 4% of American teenagers struggle with a form of substance use disorder. 

An estimated 992,000 adolescents—i.e., one in every 25 persons aged 12–17—experience some kind of challenge with substance abuse.

(American Addiction Centers)

7. 443,000 adolescents aged 12–17 had alcohol use disorders in 2017.

This value correlates with 1.8% of all adolescents, and it shows that teens are more susceptible to the effects of drugs than adults. The 2017 numbers were somewhat lower than the figures from 2002 to 2015, though they were comparable to the 2016 estimate.

(SAMHSA)

8. Approximately 741,000 teenagers suffered from an illicit substance use disorder in 2017.

This corresponds to approximately 3% of teenagers aged 12 to 17 who admitted to having had an illicit drug use disorder. Additional addiction statistics show that an estimated 7.5 million individuals aged 12 and higher had at least one illicit drug use disorder.

(82717life and Drug War Facts)

Young Adults Age 18–25

Addiction Statistics - Young Adults

9. 14.8% of young adults struggle with at least one form of substance use disorder.

In the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, it was discovered that 5.1 million people in the 18–25 age range struggle with a substance use disorder. This accounts for one out of every 7 people in this age group.

(Bright Path Program)

10. 7.3% of young adults admitted to having an illicit drug use disorder in 2017.

The substance abuse statistics show that about 2.5 million young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 reported struggling with an illicit or illegal drug use disorder in the previous year.

(American Addiction Centers)

Ages 26 and Older

11. In 2017, 5% of adults lived with an alcohol use disorder.

Roughly 10.6 million people aged 26 years and older struggled with alcoholism in 2017, according to the drug addiction statistics from 2017. It was also noted that the values obtained for 2017 were lower than most of the years leading up to it.

(NSDUH)

12. 1 in every 16 adults reported having a substance use disorder (SUD) in 2017.

Approximately 13.6 million people aged 26 years and older admitted to dealing with a substance use disorder. This value represents 6.4% of the total individuals in this age range.

(NSDUH)

Drug Use by Race and Region

13. Native Americans and Alaska Natives 12 years of age and up had the highest level of drug abuse in 2017.

In the survey carried out, 12.8% of Alaskan Natives and Native Americans had trouble with drug abuse or misuse. This is higher than the measured statistics in 2016, which recorded 11.7%.

(American Addiction Centers)

14. About 4.6% of Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians struggled with illnesses related to drug use in 2017.

These drug use statistics show that 4.6% of Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians struggled with drug use in 2017. This is lower than the 4.8% recorded in 2016’s results.

(American Addiction Centers)

15. Approximately 6.8% of African Americans struggled with drug use-related illnesses in 2017.

6.8% of African Americans, according to the drug statistics from 2017, had issues with drug use, while 6.6% of Latinos or Hispanics suffered from drug use illnesses. Compared with the values from 2016, the values are getting lower among African Americans (7.6%).

(American Addiction Centers)

Methamphetamine Addiction 

16. Meth is currently used by approximately 897,000 teenagers and adults in America. 

Research shows that untreated addiction to meth, one of the most abused drugs out there, can lead to potentially dangerous results. A considerable percentage (30%) of law enforcement agencies see it as the biggest drug threat and one that requires the most resources to tackle.

(Talbott Recovery)

17. Meth is involved in 85%–90% of stimulant-related drug fatalities.

Meth is responsible for causing the highest death toll among stimulant-related drugs, a concern we continue to see among the meth addiction facts. Data from 2015 add that 5,716 individuals died as a consequence of an overdose on stimulants. Worse, the number of deaths caused by stimulant drugs rose by a margin of 225% from 2005 to 2015.

(Talbott Recovery)

18. Admissions to meth addiction therapy increased by 3% from 2014 to 2015. 

These meth statistics show that some people, although few, are seeking treatment for their meth addiction. With more efforts made to educate people, the results should keep improving, and more people will be encouraged to get therapy for their addiction. These statistics also show that up to 135,264 people got help for meth addiction in publicly funded facilities in 2015.

(Talbott Recovery)

Cocaine Statistics

19. Approximately 5 million Americans regularly use cocaine.

In 2017, 2.2 million Americans reported having taken cocaine at least one time in the previous month. Nearly 4% of students in 12th grade admitted to using cocaine at least once in 2018.

(CDC and Addiction Center)

20. In 2017, cocaine was associated with 1 out of 5 overdose-related fatalities.  

This drug abuse statistic also states that the proportion of fatalities associated with cocaine overdose improved from 2016 to 2017 by a margin of 34%. The drug abuse facts verify that cocaine can result in organ damage, cause respiratory failure, and provoke mental disorders.

(CDC)

21. Approximately 966,000 American adults struggled with a cocaine use disorder in 2017.

Cocaine is one of the many substances that have contributed to widespread illegal drug use in America. These statistics also indicate that more than 5 million Americans use cocaine regularly.

(NY Post)

Tobacco Addiction

Addiction Statistics - Tobacco

22. Around 34 million Americans smoke cigarettes. 

This is partly because cigarettes are relatively easy to buy once you’re over 18 years of age. The drug abuse statistics also report that the proportion of Americans smoking cigarettes fell from 21% in 2005 to 14% in 2017. About 604,000 Americans aged 12–17 and about 1.2 million Americans aged 18–21 smoked their first cigarette in 2017.

(Time)

23. Approximately 16% of men in America smoke cigarettes.

Only 12% of American women smoke cigarettes. People who have the highest probability of using cigarettes are those who live in poverty, have a disability, or don’t have a university degree. Smoking cigarettes in the US results in more than 480,000 deaths each year.

(CDC)

Alcoholism Statistics

24. Of the 61.4% of students who drive in America, 7.8% of them have driven after drinking alcohol.

This shows that of the students who drive, 7.8% had driven one or more times after drinking alcohol. After drinking, the incidence of driving a car or other vehicle was greater among men (9.5%) than women (6%).

(Promises)

25. This disorder leads to over 200 distinct types of health conditions and injuries.

The alcohol abuse statistics indicate that alcohol abuse costs the US about $250 billion annually. According to data from 2016, approximately 15 million Americans are diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder every year, and an estimated 136 million Americans consume alcohol—which is about one-third of the population.

(The Recovery Village)

26. Approximately 2,200 individuals in the US die each year due to alcohol poisoning.

How many people die from alcohol? This comes out to an average of six people a day. Between 2010 and 2012, an estimated 76% of the deaths caused by alcohol poisoning were among adults aged 35–64.

(Promises)

27. Approximately 60%–70% of the married couples who have been in a physical altercation with each other abuse alcohol.

How many families in the US are affected by alcoholism? Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are an issue that can ruin a marriage or drive a wedge. Individuals who drink can blow through the family budget, cause fights, neglect their children, and otherwise impair the health and happiness of the individuals they love. In time, family members may even create symptoms of codependency, unintentionally keeping the addiction alive, even if it harms them. However, family therapy and rehabilitation can be of assistance.

(American Addiction Centers)

Opioid Addiction Statistics

Addiction Statistics - Opioids

28. Approximately 130 Americans die from issues due to an opioid overdose every day. 

Figures show that up to 399,230 Americans have died as a result of opioids between 1999 and 2017. In America alone, there were 47,600 recorded deadly overdoses in 2017, each involving a minimum of one opioid.

(Pharmacy Times and Addiction Center)

29. Approximately 21%–29% of patients misuse opioids meant for chronic pain.

The Opioid Crisis statistics show that this substance has had a drastic impact on the nation, resulting in public health concerns relating to social and economic welfare. Of the people who take prescription opioids, 21%–29% misuse them.

(NCBI)

30. Just in 2017, 2 million Americans misused prescription opioids for the first time.

A lot of individuals who misuse prescription opioids have a high probability of becoming opioid addicts. These same drug facts also state that around 2 million Americans struggle with an opioid use disorder.

(NIH)

31. Doctors released 191,218,272 opioid prescriptions in 2017.

This is a slight decrease from the 200 million opioid prescriptions that were released annually between 2006 and 2016. Worse, the rate at which opioid painkillers have been sold has risen by 300% since 1999.

(CDC and Addiction Center)

Opioid Abuse Statistics by State

32. The number of opioid overdoses in big cities have risen by 54% in 16 states.

This statistic also notes that overdoses of opioids have risen by 30% in 52 locations across 45 states from July 2016 to September 2017. As you can see, the number of opioid overdoses, not to mention the overall use of drugs in America, has consistently been on the rise.

(NBC News)

33. Approximately 80% of individuals who used heroin also misused prescription opioids.

This demonstrates the relationship between the use of prescription opioids and heroin. In a survey carried out in 2014, 94% of the respondents said they first used heroin because most prescription opioids are costlier and harder to obtain. The opioid abuse statistics also go on to show that approximately 4% to 6% of people who misuse heroin had made a shift from prescription opioids. It’s estimated that up to 23% of all the people who take heroin have also developed an addiction to opioids.

(NIH and Addiction Center)

34. 10% of the people who misuse opioids become addicted to them.

The opioid addiction facts show that most people don’t think it’s a big deal to frequently share their unused pain relievers, apparently oblivious to the hazards of non-medical opioid use. When a friend or relative gives opioids to an adolescent, there’s a good chance they will misuse the prescription pain relievers and possibly even develop an addiction.

(Addiction Center)

Heroin Addiction Statistics

35. 886,000 Americans used heroin at least once in 2017.

The statistics counting the number of people who used heroin in America are on the high side. About 494,000 people frequently use heroin. In 2017, 81,000 Americans took heroin for the first time.

(Niznik Behavioral Health and Addiction Center)

36. People addicted to prescription drugs are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin.

These heroin addiction facts show that alcohol addicts are twice as likely to also be addicted to heroin, while cannabis addicts are 3 times as likely, and cocaine addicts are 15 times as likely. This demonstrates a clear correlation between heroin addiction and addiction to other substances.

(American Addiction Centers)

37. 25% of those who abuse heroin will likely become addicted to it.

The heroin statistics continue to prove that it’s a highly addictive substance. Obviously, it’s never a good idea to try it because the chances of getting addicted are too great. This is why the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in most demographic groups in the US, the use of heroin has increased over the previous two centuries.

(Addiction Center)

Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics

38. In 2017, around 1.7 million individuals over 12 years old had a prescription pain reliever use disorder.

According to these statistics, 0.6% of people 12 years old and upwards have a disorder associated with pain reliever abuse. In addition, in 2017, tranquilizers, pain relievers, sedatives, and stimulants were some of the most abused prescription drugs.

(Surgeon General and American Addiction Centers)

39. Opioid painkillers account for 38.2% of drug overdose fatalities.

Prescription drug abuse leads to the biggest proportion of drug overdose fatalities. Of the 22,400 people who died from a drug overdose in the United States recorded in 2005, the most frequently found drug was opioid painkillers, at 38.2%.

(Foundation for a Drug-Free World)

Marijuana Addiction Statistics

Addiction Statistics - Marijuana

40. Approximately 4.1 million adults in America over 12 years of age struggled with a marijuana use disorder in 2017.

The majority of individuals dealing with marijuana addiction issues were in the age range of 12–25. In 2014, nearly 6% of full-time US university students smoked cannabis daily. This is more than 3 times the number of daily smokers 20 years ago in this demographic.

(American Addiction Centers)

41. Each year, approximately 30–40 million Americans use marijuana by smoking it. 

What is the most commonly used illicit drug among persons aged 12 and older? In 2017, about 1.2 million Americans aged 12–17 and 525,000 over 26 years used marijuana for the first time. Marijuana is increasingly becoming legal across the United States, both for medical and recreational use, but it still isn’t entirely secure because it can be addictive and cause health issues.

(Addiction Center)

42. About 30% of individuals who admit to using marijuana frequently have a disorder with marijuana use.

The marijuana addiction facts show that at least once in the previous year, 13% of 8th graders, 27% of 10th graders, and 35% of 12th graders used marijuana. Less than 1% of 8th graders, approximately 3% of 10th grade students, and approximately 5% of 12th graders reported using it daily. Marijuana’s average batch has become stronger, which has increased the overall number of marijuana deaths per year. The average marijuana batch in 1990 contained less than 4% THC, but that proportion has since increased to over 12%.

(Addiction Center)

The Primary Causes of Drug Addiction

  • Adolescents and individuals with mental health disorders have a greater risk of drug use and addiction than other groups.
  • Genetics, including the effect of one’s setting on gene expression, accounts for approximately 40% to 60% of a person’s risk of addiction, according to the addiction stats.
  • Environmental variables may boost a person’s risk of addiction to prescription drugs and their abuse. These could include parents’ substance use and their attitude toward medicines, peer influences, a messy home environment and abuse, community attitudes toward medicine, and poor academic achievement.

Conclusion

Addiction can harm a person’s normal activities and damage their relationships with friends and loved ones. However, there are several treatment procedures that are proven to be helpful with addiction. These addiction statistics should educate readers about the dangerous effects of addiction and help them make better choices. (Click to Source)

List of Sources:

 

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