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Op-Ed: Who is responsible for the opioid crisis, and who ultimately pays?

7/18/21--In an op-ed by Sam Quinones, a former Los Angeles Times reporter and author of “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic,” Quinones believes the healthcare system incentivizes profitable pills and pill-taking over wellness. According to the doctors he spoke to, American healthcare consumers pushed back when doctors suggested there wasn't a need for narcotics to treat ailments. Quinones suggests we didn’t want to hear it, so American healthcare consumers were also part of the Opioid Era along with Purdue Pharma. Read

RI Gov. McKee legislation allowing safe-injection sites into law

7/7/21--Gov. Daniel McKee on Wednesday signed into law a proposal to help combat the opioid overdose crisis by creating safe injection sites for people to use illegal drugs under the oversight. The legislation, which makes Rhode Island the first to enact a statewide measure, establishes a two-year pilot program to prevent drug overdoses through the establishment of so-called “harm reduction centers,” or safe injection sites. Read

Pfizer pauses Chantix distribution after finding carcinogen

6/24/21--Pfizer Inc. said it’s pausing worldwide distribution of its smoking-cessation drug Chantix after finding elevated levels of nitrosamines, a likely carcinogen, in the pills. Read

Johnson & Johnson to end sale of opioids, settles New York case for $230 million

6/26/21--Johnson & Johnson will pay $230 million to resolve an opioids lawsuit, days before the company was slated to go to trial, in a settlement reached with New York Attorney General Letitia James. In the agreement, the company will end the sale of all opioid products nationwide. Read

Strategies of effectively allocating opioid settlement funds

6/16/21--States and communities have one chance to get the allocation of settlement funds right and to avoid some of the missteps that substantially diminished the potential public health impact of tobacco settlements. Therefore, OPTIC researchers have compiled materials that include guiding principles for allocating opioid settlement funds, recommendations for addressing the root causes of overdose death, and profiles of studies assessing the effectiveness of specific programs and policies as a resource to focus on different aspects of the crisis, and use different methods to derive their assessments. Read

More than 80% of Americans report one or more symptoms of depression, and many have turned to substances to cope with negative emotions during COVID-19 pandemic

5/18/21--Field Trip Health Ltd. (“Field Trip”) today announced the results of a survey commissioned by Field Trip and conducted by YouGov Plc to look into the state of mental and emotional health in the US. After nearly 15 months of rolling global lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is to no one's surprise that the survey results show a nation in the depths of a mental health crisis. Read

It’s high time to decriminalize psychedelics in Seattle

5/28/21--At the beginning of this century Washingtonian voters made pot possession the lowest priority for law enforcement, and then a decade later Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes stopped charging people caught with marijuana. Those were major progressive wins at the time, but since the. its fallen a little behind when it comes to decriminalizing other plants with certain psychoactive benefits. Read

The psychedelic revolution is coming. Psychiatry may never be the same.

5/9/21--Psychedelic drugs are on the cusp of entering mainstream psychiatry, with profound implications for a field that in recent decades has seen few pharmacological advancements for the treatment of mental disorders and addiction. The need for new therapeutics has gained greater urgency amid a national epidemic of opioid abuse and suicides. Read

‘The crisis was manufactured’: inside a damning film on the origins of the opioid epidemic

5/10/21--Alex Gibney’s two-part docuseries The Crime of the Century reframes the opioid crisis as a crime of fraudulent marketing and callous corporate greed. Read

24 states mount legal fight to block sackler bid for opioid immunity

5/3/21--Members of the Sackler family that owns Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, have portrayed their bid for immunity from future opioid lawsuits as somewhat of a take-it-or-leave-it fix to a legal morass. They have offered to forfeit control of their bankrupt drug company and pay $4.2 billion from their private fortunes. A growing group of public officials and activists is mounting a last-ditch effort to derail the plan, describing it in legal briefs as an unethical, and possibly unlawful, use of the bankruptcy court's power. Read

Unlocking federal funding for fentanyl test strips will save lives

5/4/21--According to a STAT article by Regina LaBelle, Tom Coderre, and Rochelle Walensky, fentanyl test strips not only have the potential to reduce overdoses, but the process of obtaining them can bring individuals with substance use disorders in contact with a community organization or other harm reduction supports for the first time and can lead to reduced risk for drug-related harms and improved health outcomes. Read

Effects of psilocybin microdosing on awe and aesthetic experiences : a preregistered field and lab-based study

4/30/21--Following subjective reports that microdosing enhances the experience of nature and art, this study is designed to examine the effects of psilocybin microdosing on feelings of awe and art perception. In this preregistered combined field- and lab-based study, participants took part in a microdosing workshop after which they volunteered to self-administer a psilocybin microdose or a placebo for three consecutive weeks, while the condition was kept blind to the participants and researchers. Read

The future of psychedelic medicine investment

5/6/21--A free webinar to discuss psychedelic medicine investment presented by Arcview. Read

Understanding risk factors for persistent opioid use among youths

4/22/21--Growing evidence indicates that youths exposed to opioids for legitimate medical purposes have an increased risk of opioid use disorders in the future. According to a study, adolescents and young adults are especially susceptible to negative consequences of opioid misuse because of their ongoing biological, social, and psychological development. Read

Trajectories of opioid use following first opioid prescription in opioid-naive youths and young adults

4/22/21--Results of a study examining distinct patterns of opioid prescribing following the first prescription using group-based trajectory modeling and examine the patient-, clinician-, and prescription-level factors that may be associated with trajectory membership during the first year indicate 2 trajectories associated with elevated risk for persistent opioid receipt within 12 months following first opioid prescription. The high-risk trajectory was characterized by older age at time of first prescription, and longer and more potent first prescriptions. Read

Trial of Psilocybin versus Escitalopram for depression

4/15/21-- This trial did not show a significant difference in antidepressant effects between psilocybin and escitalopram in a selected group of patients. Secondary outcomes generally favored psilocybin over escitalopram, but the analyses of these outcomes lacked correction for multiple comparisons. Larger and longer trials are required to compare psilocybin with established antidepressants. Read

DEA: ‘Take Back Day’ collects over 9,000,000 pounds of drugs

4/13/21--Annually, the DEA holds their national "Take Back" drug campaign for the public to get rid of any unused or expired prescriptions by taking them to locations designated by the DEA. In 2020 alone, Americans returned more than 900,000 pounds during Take Back Day - almost 500 tons of unused prescription drugs across the country. This is the safest way to dispose of prescription meds you no longer need. Read

Provisional drug overdose death counts

4/13/21--This data visualization presents provisional counts for drug overdose deaths based on a current flow of mortality data in the National Vital Statistics System. Counts for the most recent final annual data are provided for comparison. Provisional data presented in this visualization will be updated on a monthly basis as additional records are received. Read

Australia’s “injecting rooms enriching drug trade”: UN complaint

4/12/21--A formal complaint was sent by Major Brian Watters, President of Drug Free Australia, to the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) citing overwhelming evidence that Australia’s two injecting rooms – one each in Sydney and Melbourne – are both tacitly aiding and abetting the local drug trade, significantly enriching drug dealers. Read

Infant mortality associated with prenatal opioid exposure

4/12/21-- In this cohort study of more than 1 million maternal-infant dyads, the odds of mortality in infants with a history of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome was not significantly different from the reference population in adjusted analyses. In contrast, the odds of mortality in opioid-exposed infants not diagnosed with neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome was 72% greater than the reference population. Read

UCSF, Johns Hopkins release documents shining light on opioid crisis

3/24/21--UCSF and John Hopkins University released a trove of documents Wednesday culled from legal rulings, settlements and ongoing lawsuits related to the nation’s opioid crisis, which to date has claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 Americans since 1999. Read

Medicinal psychedelics for mental health and addiction: Advancing research of an emerging paradigm

3/21/21--The medical use of psychedelic substances is attracting renewed interest due to a pressing need for research and development of novel therapies for psychiatric disorders, as well as promising results of contemporary studies. The sum of this research points towards medicinal psychedelics as a potential new class of psychiatric treatments when used within a medically supervised framework with integrated psychotherapeutic support. Read

Overdose deaths far outpace COVID-19 deaths in San Francisco

3/25/21--Since COVID-19 first started upending day-to-day life for Americans in March 2020, public health officials have been sounding the alarm about a potential surge in drug overdoses. Overdose deaths rose during the second half of 2019, and experts feared the pandemic would produce conditions that would further increase overdoses and deaths: economic shock, social isolation and increased mental health distress, and disrupted access to addiction support and medications that require face-to-face visits. Read

Self binding citizen science to explore psychedelic microdosing

3/2/21--This study used a ‘self-blinding’ citizen science initiative, where participants were given online instructions on how to incorporate placebo control into their microdosing routine without clinical supervision. The study was completed by 191 participants, making it the largest placebo-controlled trial on psychedelics to-date. Read

The societal burden of the opioid crisis estimated at $1 trillion in 2017

2/28/21--This study found that the overall estimated cost of opioid use disorder and fatal opioid overdoses was $1.2 trillion in 2017, with 85% of this burden from the value of the reduced quality of life from opioid use disorder and life lost to opioid overdose, while lost productivity was estimated at $100 billion, healthcare costs were estimated at $34.8 billion, and criminal justice costs estimated at $14.8 billion. Read

America’s silent killer: the opioid addiction crisis (ex-congressman Patrick Kennedy)

2/27/21--On this episode of Going Underground, Patrick Kennedy, a former Congressman who is a nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy, discusses the US opioid & drug-addiction crisis, why the public health infrastructure built after the pandemic must also be able to deal with mental health and addiction problems, how the administration of President Joe Biden will approach the crisis, and much more. Read

NYU Langone Health Established Center for Psychedelic Medicine

2/24/21--Philanthropic support of more than $10 million is helping NYU Langone Health advance its already world-renowned reputation in the study of psychedelic medicine. This is being achieved through the establishment of a one-of-a-kind center that will expand research and physician training in this exciting and resurging field. Read

20-year-old Kansas lawmaker files drug decriminalization bill

2/12/21--Rep. Aaron Coleman (D), a 20-year-old Kansas lawmaker, introduced a bill on Tuesday to broadly decriminalize drug possession in the state. He stated that told he was inspired by a voter-approved initiative in Oregon that ends the threat of jail time for simple drug possession. This bill’s introduction comes as Kansas lawmakers and the governor step up their push to legalize medical cannabis in the state. Read

Neural roots/origins of alcoholism identified by British and Chinese researchers

2/9/21--The physical origin of alcohol addiction has been located in a network of the human brain that regulates our response to danger, according to a team of British and Chinese researchers, co-led by the University of Warwick, the University of Cambridge, and Fudan University in Shanghai. Read

Trends and geographic patterns in drug and synthetic opioid overdose – United States, 2013 – 2019

2/12/21--From 2013 to 2019, the age-adjusted rate of deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone increased 1,040%, and for psychostimulants increased 317%. During 2018–2019, the largest relative increase in synthetic opioid-involved death rates occurred in the West (67.9%), and the largest relative increase in psychostimulant-involved death rates occurred in the Northeast (43.8%). Read

Continued increases in overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids

2/11/21--According to an article published in JAMA, drug overdose death rates have increased in all age groups, among both sexes, across most races and ethnicities, within all urbanization levels, and in the majority of US states. This increase in overdose deaths are occurring against a backdrop of overall stable or declining rates of illicit drug use other than cannabis, underscoring that the illicit drug supply is a key driver of the current overdose crisis. Read

Methamphetamine overdose deaths in the US by sex and race and ethnicity

1/20/21--According to this study sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health, US age-adjusted rates of drug overdose deaths involving methamphetamine increased nearly 5-fold during 2012-2018. Although addiction outcomes can be improved with sex-specific and culturally tailored prevention and treatment interventions, the extent to which fatalities differ as functions of sex and race and ethnicity has not been analyzed, to our knowledge. Read

Field Trip Health Ltd. announces opening of Field Trip Health Center in Atlanta, GA, as it continues expansion in the US

1/26/21--Field Trip Health Ltd., a global leader in the development and delivery of psychedelic therapies, announced today the opening of their fifth location in the United States in the city of Atlanta, GA, one of many locations that Field Trip is planning to open in 2021. Located in the Glenwood Park neighborhood, the Atlanta location is the first Field Trip Health center to open this year, and will continue to execute on its strategy to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of psychedelic-enhanced therapies to promote mental and emotional health and well-being across the country. Read

McLaren Health and feds reach record $7.75M settlement of drug allegations

1/19/21--McLaren Health Care Corp. agreed Tuesday to pay a record $7.75 million penalty to settle a federal investigation into officials distributing opioids and other drugs without prescriptions, the largest amount in U.S. history involving allegations of drug diversion. The penalty settles a years-long investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration into whether officials at the Grand Blanc-based health system violated federal drug laws by illegally distributing powerful pain medication central to the nation's opioid crisis. Read

Tianeptine use: Another dangerous substance emerges during opioid crisis

12/1/20--Several countries that initially approved tianeptine have since either removed it from sale or restricted its use due to concerns about risks for abuse. Although it is not an FDA-approved product, tianeptine is sold in the U.S. via online merchants and in convenience stores. In 2018, based on findings from the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition (CFSAN), the agency sent warning letters to two companies illegally marketing tianeptine-containing products labeled as dietary supplements claiming to treat opioid use disorder, pain and anxiety, among other unlawful and unproven claims. Read

Prevalence and childhood precursors of opioid use in the early decades of life

12/28/20--A study designed to examine how common opioid use is in the early decades of life, and which childhood risk factors are associated with opioid use in young adulthood indicates that childhood tobacco use and chronic depression may be associated with impaired reward system functioning, which may increase young adults’ vulnerability to opioid-associated euphoria. Preventing and treating early substance use and childhood mental illness may help prevent later opioid use. Read

Incidence and characteristics of nonfatal opioid overdose among youths aged 11 to 24 years by sex

12/17/20-- This cohort study found differences between female and male youths in sociodemographic and clinical characteristics and incidence of NFOD. Although female and male youths who experience overdose appear to have different risk factors, many of these risk factors may be amenable to early detection through screening and intervention. Read

Psychedelics in Psychiatry – Keeping the renaissance from going off the rails

12/2/20--This Viewpoint segment offers perspectives on how the psychedelic research renaissance can stay on the path that leads to the integration of these medications into the standard of care rather than recapitulating the ethical and sociopolitical problems that led to the previous period of research going off the rails. Read

Richmond emergency room experienced a surge in opioid overdoses during pandemic

9/21/20--Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have released data showing an alarming surge in opioid-related overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonfatal opioid overdose visits to the VCU Medical Center emergency department in Richmond increased from 102 between March and June 2019 to 227 between March and June 2020. That's an increase of 123%. Read

Association of opioid prescription initiation during adolescence and young adulthood with subsequent substance-related morbidity

8/10/20--Results of a study published in JAMA Pediatrics indicate that among the adolescents and young adults analyzed, initial opioid prescription receipt was associated with an approximately 30% to 40% relative increase in risk of subsequent substance-related morbidity in multiple designs that adjusted for confounding. These findings suggest that this increase may be smaller than previously estimated in some other studies. Read

Association of opioid prescription initiation during adolescence and young adulthood with subsequent substance-related morbidity

8/10/20--Among adolescents and young adults analyzed in this study, initial opioid prescription receipt was associated with an approximately 30% to 40% relative increase in risk of subsequent substance-related morbidity in multiple designs that adjusted for confounding, According to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics. These findings suggest that this increase may be smaller than previously estimated in some other studies. Read

NCIS warns Navy after LSD investigations surge 70%

7/2/20--The Naval Criminal Investigative Service issued a warning about the drug activity, which they say is largely taking place on the dark web, a difficult-to-regulate portion of the internet accessible only via specific configurations. In a release, NCIS officials said users of illicit substances purchased on the dark web risk their own safety, and asked those with information about the LSD activity to come forward and report. Read

Federal Judge puts hold on Philly safe-injection site

6/25/20--A federal judge ruled it is in the public’s best interest that the nation’s first supervised drug-injection site in Philadelphia be barred from opening while federal prosecutors appeal the site’s legality. An appeals court will now have the chance to review if the facility is legal before the Philadelphia nonprofit Safehouse can move toward opening the site. Read

New study could lead to therapeutic interventions to treat cocaine addiction

4/22/20--A new study explains how cocaine modifies functions in the brain revealing a potential target for therapies aimed at treating cocaine addiction. The study indicates that D2R activation in cholinergic interneurons is indeed central to the control of striatal neuronal circuits and significantly affects the motor and cellular responses to cocaine. Read

Washington voters could see drug decriminalization and treatment initiative on November ballot

4/21/20--Activists in Washington State are working to place an initiative to decriminalize drug possession and expand access to treatment services on the November ballot. ACLU of Washington says they remain determined to qualify Initiative 1715, which would make possession of illegal substances for personal use a civil infraction that does not carry the threat of jail time. Read

Using contributing causes of death improves prediction of opioid involvement in unclassified drug overdoses in US death records

2/27/20--This study aimed to compare methodological approaches to predicting opioid involvement in unclassified drug overdoses in US death records and to estimate the number of fatal opioid overdoses from 1999 to 2016 using the best‐performing method. Results indicate that in modeling opioid involvement in unclassified drug overdoses, highest predictive accuracy is achieved using a statistical model—either logistic regression or a random forest ensemble—with decedent characteristics and contributing causes of death as predictors. Read

Study reveals urban hotspots of high-schoolers’ opioid abuse

11/14/19--A new study has found that in several cities and counties the proportion of high-schoolers who have ever used heroin or misused prescription opioids is much higher than the national average. Read

High numbers of youth report using prescription opioids in the past year

11/8/19--A new analysis of US data finds an unexpectedly high prevalence of prescription opioid use among youth. As recently as 2015-2016, 21% of adolescents and 32% of young adults said they had used these drugs in the past year. Nearly 4 percent and 8 percent, respectively, reported misusing opioids. Read

The opioid crisis, corporate responsibility, and lessons from the tobacco master settlement agreement

11/1/19--The opioid crisis has accounted for 770 000 deaths in the United States over the past 20 years, and this crisis has contributed to the decline in US overall life expectancy for 3 consecutive years. Responsibility for holding corporations accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic—and ensuring they contribute to solutions—falls primarily to state attorneys general who are responsible for protecting the public and can act individually or as a group through lawsuits or negotiations when public health is threatened. Read

Berkeley City Council to vote on decriminalizing psychedelics

9/6/19--The Berkeley, California City Council will decide next week whether to advance a resolution to decriminalize psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca. The development comes two months after the body’s Public Safety Committee unanimously voted to send the measure to a separate commission focused on health. The full Council will either approve or reject that recommendation on Tuesday. Read

Oregon activists take next step to legalize psilocybin for medical use

8/12/19--Oregon activists are one step closer to getting a psilocybin legalization measure on the state’s 2020 ballot. The organizers behind it are putting their resources into an initiative that would create a regulatory framework for the legal use of psilocybin for therapeutic purposes. Read

Marijuana legalization reduces opioid deaths

8/7/19--A new Economic Inquiry study examined how the changing legal status of marijuana has impacted mortality in the United States over the past two decades. Investigators found that legalization and access to recreational marijuana reduced annual opioid mortality in the range of 20% to 35%, with particularly pronounced effects for synthetic opioids. Read

AG Phil Weiser backs Philly in lawsuit over supervised-drug-use sites, even if Colorado’s effort is stalled

7/11/19--Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is supporting Philadelphia nonprofit, Safehouse, in its legal battle with the federal government over whether it should be allowed to open a supervised drug consumption site in that city, stepping into an issue at the center of one of Colorado’s most divisive political debates. Read

Safety concerns: Herbal supplement used to treat addiction and pain

7/9/19--The herb kratom is increasingly being used to manage pain and treat opioid addiction, but it's not safe to use as an herbal supplement, according to new research led by faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York. Read

Opioids: Leading cause of pregnancy-related death in new Utah moms

5/9/19--A new study at the University of Utah Health found that drug-induced death is the most common cause of pregnancy-associated death in Utah. Postpartum women who have previously or currently struggle with substance abuse are at greater risk of overdosing. Read

Denver says no to ‘magic mushrooms’: Historic vote on psilocybin unlikely to pass

5/8/19--Voters in Denver appeared to have voted down a first-in-the nation plan to decriminalize the use and possession of "magic mushrooms" known for sending users on psychedelic journeys. Unofficial results suggested Measure 301 was on track to fail, with 46.5% in favor and 54.5% opposed. Read

Washington Supreme Court rules against initiative to block public funding of safe-injection sites

12/6/18--The Washington state Supreme Court unanimously struck down a proposed county initiative that would have allowed voters to decide whether to ban public funding for safe-injection sites. The court found that Initiative 27 — slated for the February 2018 ballot before being rejected by a King County judge last year — infringed on the authority of the Metropolitan King County Council. Read

Toledo native’s new book tackles opioid addiction problem

11/11/18--Dr. Robert DuPont has been a practicing psychiatrist for more than 50 years, focusing on addiction and anxiety. He practices in Maryland and is president of the nonprofit Institute for Behavior and Health Inc. He has written about 400 professional articles on addiction and half dozen books, including his latest: Chemical Slavery: Understanding Addiction and Stopping the Drug Epidemic, a thorough account of addiction throughout history, what drives the disease, and an optimistic message of hope. Read

Rat models of opioid use and addiction explore risk of abuse

11/6/18--New research revealed today highlights the power of animal studies to explore mechanisms of opioid addiction, withdrawal, and relapse to inform new prevention strategies and treatments for people. Read

Impact of opioid epidemic on children varies by state

11/6/18--A new report released by the Drug Enforcement Administration finds most overdose deaths are caused by prescription drugs, including opioids. While opioid abuse continues to plague certain states more than others, each state is unique in how it attempts to stem the crisis and its effect on families. These differences have resulted in significant variation across the country between opioid prescription rates and the number of children placed into foster care. Read