Breaking News
December 19, 2018 - RNA sequencing offers novel insights into the microbiome
December 19, 2018 - A promising, effective vaccine for common respiratory disease
December 19, 2018 - Protein may slow progression of emphysema, study finds
December 19, 2018 - Studying atrial fibrillation — and exploring new frontiers in precision health
December 19, 2018 - A New Way To Get College Students Through A Psychiatric Crisis — And Back To School
December 19, 2018 - Optum, UnitedHealthcare take action to help people affected by North Carolina winter storms
December 18, 2018 - Weight change in middle-aged, elderly Chinese Singaporeans related to increased risk of death
December 18, 2018 - Immune cells sacrifice themselves to protect us from invading bacteria
December 18, 2018 - Watching brain cells fire, with a twist of gravitational waves
December 18, 2018 - 2018 in Review
December 18, 2018 - Getting the Most Out of the CLARITY Technique
December 18, 2018 - NVF shoes provide a viable option for track and road racing
December 18, 2018 - CRISPR may restore effectiveness of chemotherapies used to treat lung cancer
December 18, 2018 - New app accurately measures and charts progression of skin wounds
December 18, 2018 - Persistent Discrimination ID’d Among Physician Mothers
December 18, 2018 - Cellphone technology developed to detect HIV
December 18, 2018 - A Stanford doctor hits the field with the 49ers — as their airway management physician
December 18, 2018 - The Rise of Anxiety Baking
December 18, 2018 - Just one night of sleep deprivation increases the urge to eat
December 18, 2018 - Study reveals mechanism behind failed remyelination in MS
December 18, 2018 - New genetic testing method increases the precision of biomarker analysis
December 18, 2018 - Simple technique to effectively treat underdiagnosed cause of debilitating chest pain
December 18, 2018 - Barbershop-based medical intervention can successfully lower blood pressure, new data shows
December 18, 2018 - Food labels have caused changes in consumers’ intake and industry’s use of key additives
December 18, 2018 - Sickest children could benefit from split liver transplants
December 18, 2018 - Scientists create patient-specific model to identify most effective treatment for appendix cancer
December 18, 2018 - ‘Little Foot’ endocast reveals a small brain combining ape-like and human-like features
December 18, 2018 - New therapy for childhood blindness shows ‘very promising’ results
December 18, 2018 - Researchers discover promising new compound against Buruli ulcer
December 18, 2018 - Study finds significant use of traditional, complementary and alternative medicines in Sub-Saharan Africa
December 18, 2018 - California Farm Implicated in Outbreak of E. coli Tied to Romaine Lettuce
December 18, 2018 - Mobile health has power to transform HIV/AIDS nursing
December 18, 2018 - Celiac Vaccine in Clinical Trials at Columbia
December 18, 2018 - Research into mental health first aid prompts practical guidance and resources for workplace
December 18, 2018 - Researcher conducts study to investigate peripheral blood markers of Alzheimer’s disease
December 18, 2018 - Researchers identify link between mucus in the small airways and pulmonary fibrosis
December 18, 2018 - EU Commission’s Health Policy Platform to host EKHA program on transplantation
December 18, 2018 - Survivors of childhood Hodgkin lymphoma have high risk of developing solid tumors
December 18, 2018 - Small changes to cafeteria design can get kids to eat healthier, new assessment tool finds
December 18, 2018 - From Machines to Cyclic Compounds
December 18, 2018 - New study reveals best assessment tools to establish delirium severity
December 18, 2018 - Rice University scientists develop synthetic protein switches to control electron flow
December 18, 2018 - Home-based pulmonary function monitoring for teens with Duchenne muscular dystrophy
December 18, 2018 - Researchers identify potential target for new breast cancer treatments
December 18, 2018 - National Biofilms Innovation Centre award grant to Neem Biotech for novel anti-biofilm drug development
December 18, 2018 - Artificial intelligence and the future of medicine
December 18, 2018 - Montana State doctoral student receives grant for her work to improve neuroscience tool
December 18, 2018 - Early postpartum initiation of opioids associated with persistent use
December 18, 2018 - Russian scientists identify molecular ‘switch’ that could be target for treatment of allergic asthma
December 18, 2018 - Surgeons make more mistakes in the operating room during stressful moments, shows study
December 18, 2018 - Immune cells explode themselves to inform about the danger of invading bacteria
December 18, 2018 - Malnutrition in children with Crohn’s disease linked with increased risk of surgical complications
December 18, 2018 - FDA Approves Motegrity (prucalopride) for Adults with Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC)
December 18, 2018 - The long and short of CDK12
December 18, 2018 - Hologic’s Cynosure division introduces TempSure Surgical RF technology in North America
December 18, 2018 - CMR Surgical partners with Nicholson Center to launch U.S.-based training program for Versius
December 18, 2018 - Findings reinforce guidelines for cautious use of antipsychotics in younger populations
December 18, 2018 - Study finds new strains of hepatitis C virus in sub-Saharan Africa
December 18, 2018 - New battery-free, implantable device aids weight loss
December 18, 2018 - Parental alcohol use disorder associated with offspring marital outcomes
December 18, 2018 - Novel Breast Imaging Technique Might Cut Unnecessary Biopsies
December 18, 2018 - What can a snowflake teach us about how cancer spreads in the body?
December 18, 2018 - Management of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy costs the NHS more than previously thought
December 18, 2018 - Green leafy vegetables may reduce risk of developing liver steatosis
December 18, 2018 - Veganism linked to nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition if not planned correctly
December 18, 2018 - Coming Soon: A Tiny Robot You Swallow to Help You Stay Healthy
December 18, 2018 - Modified malaria drug proven effective at inhibiting Ebola
December 18, 2018 - Study finds epigenetic differences in the brains of individuals with schizophrenia
December 18, 2018 - Fitness instructors’ motivational comments influence women’s body satisfaction
December 18, 2018 - Study focuses on modification of lipid nanoparticles for successful brain cell targeting
December 18, 2018 - New gut bacteria may be effective against obesity, metabolic and mental disorders
December 18, 2018 - New two-in-one powder aerosol to upgrade fight against deadly superbugs in lungs
December 18, 2018 - Biofilms feed with swirling flows
December 17, 2018 - Study identifies specific neurological changes related to traumatic brain injury
December 17, 2018 - New study confirms geographic bias in lung allocation for transplant
December 17, 2018 - Research focuses on optimization of solid lipid nanoparticle that encapsulates Vinorelbine bitartrate
December 17, 2018 - Carpal tunnel syndrome – Genetics Home Reference
December 17, 2018 - A novel insulin accelerant
December 17, 2018 - Tips for caring for patients with disabilities, from a mother and physician
December 17, 2018 - Menopause-related sexual, urinary problems tied to worse quality of life
Drug overdose epidemic goes far beyond opioids, requires new policies

Drug overdose epidemic goes far beyond opioids, requires new policies

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Drug overdose epidemic goes far beyond opioids, requires new policies
Credit: 123RF.com/Rice University

Most government-funded initiatives to address the overdose epidemic in the United States have targeted opioids specifically and have neglected other drugs that are increasingly implicated in overdoses, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, according to an issue brief by a drug policy expert at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

“The Drug Overdose Epidemic: Not Just About Opioids” was authored by Katharine Neill Harris, the Alfred C. Glassell III Fellow in Drug Policy at the institute. Neill Harris argues that instead of treating all drug use behaviors—from experimentation to addiction—as if they carry the same risks, policy interventions should focus on preventing the progression from occasional to problematic drug use. She also suggests that rather than treating drug addiction as if it affects everyone equally, prevention policies should target use among populations most vulnerable to addiction.

The rise in opioid-related overdose deaths in the last two decades is widely regarded as an epidemic that originated with the overprescribing of prescription pain relievers in the late 1990s, Neill Harris said. But a research study cited by Harris that was published in the September issue of Science suggests the crisis is actually part of a larger trend that started 40 years ago.

In that study, researchers mapped overdose deaths in the U.S. from 1979 through 2016. The authors analyzed data from the National Vital Statistics System on 599,255 deaths in which the main cause was listed as accidental drug poisoning. The authors found that overdose fatalities have been increasing dramatically since 1979, pointing out that “this exponentially increasing mortality rate has tracked along a remarkably smooth trajectory for at least 38 years.” That suggests “the current wave of opioid overdose deaths may just be the latest manifestation of a more fundamental longer-term process.”

Within this broad trend of steady increase, there is significant variation in terms of the specific drugs involved and the populations most affected by overdose deaths, Neill Harris said. Currently, the population most at risk for cocaine overdose is aging black males living in urban counties, while methamphetamine-related deaths skew toward white and rural male populations.

For opioid-related deaths, age is a key factor. Deaths involving heroin and synthetic opioids are higher for people between the ages of 20 and 40, especially white males living in urban counties. In contrast, prescription opioid deaths are higher among those 40 to 60 years old, especially white females living in rural counties.

Nearly every region of the country, except for the northern Midwest, has been a “hot spot” for drug overdose deaths in the last few years, Neill Harris said.

“Unfortunately, current public policies are remarkably ineffective at reducing both casual and compulsive drug use,” Neill Harris wrote. “There are few existing government interventions that can significantly reduce the extent to which people experiment with drugs, although public health campaigns that provide factual information on drug risks, especially to youths, are generally appropriate.”

Despite demographic variability in overdose deaths, the populations consistently at greatest risk for addiction are those living with economic insecurity, mental illness or a history of trauma, Neill Harris said. “Policies intended to reduce problematic patterns of drug use, then, must address systemic issues underlying these problems, such as the loss of jobs that provide a livable income, the lack of adequate health care coverage for all ailments and for mental health in particular, and the increasing sense of isolation that people feel from community and civic life,” she wrote.

Neill Harris concluded, “Government policies cannot solve all of the problems that may drive a person’s desire to escape an unpleasant reality through drug use, but they can improve upon current conditions. Doing so will require a heavy investment, but one that is necessary if we are to protect against future drug-related deaths.”


Explore further:
Highest opioid-related mortality seen in construction jobs

More information:
Hawre Jalal et al. Changing dynamics of the drug overdose epidemic in the United States from 1979 through 2016, Science (2018). DOI: 10.1126/science.aau1184

Journal reference:
Science

Provided by:
Rice University

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles