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Many Addicts Turned to Telemedicine During Pandemic, But Does It Beat In-Person Care?

The coronavirus pandemic forced a significant shift to telemedicine treatment for addiction, but it's not clear whether that approach is better than in-person care, a new study finds.

Before the pandemic, addiction treatment services in the United States had many restrictions on telemedicine use, so only about 27% of addiction facilities offered telehealth services, while telehealth was u...

'Breakthrough' COVID More Likely in People With Problem Drug, Alcohol Use

Drug and alcohol abuse increase the risk of breakthrough COVID-19 infection as well as severe illness and death among fully vaccinated people, a new study shows.

"First and foremost, vaccination is highly effective for people with substance use disorders, and the overall risk of COVID-19 among vaccinated people with substance use disorders is very low," study co-author Dr. Nora Volkow, di...

How the COVID Pandemic Made the Opioid Epidemic Worse, Even as Telehealth Helped

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the U.S. opioid crisis in ways bad and good, increasing the risk of use and overdose but also spurring innovative approaches to treatment.

The pandemic has definitely been linked to an increase in opioid use and overdose deaths, Tufts University's Thomas Stopka said during a HealthDay Now video interview.

"We've been seeing increases in o...

Smoking, Drinking Gateway to Pot, Study Finds

For those who smoke or drink, it's only a small step to marijuana, researchers report.

"Legal consumption of alcohol and tobacco may directly increase the level of illicit drug use. However, the relationships are complex," said researcher Dr. Zoe Reed. She is a senior research associate in the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

Th...

Opioid Use Disorder Is as Deadly as Heart Attack: Study

Hospitalized opioid addicts die at a rate similar to people who have a heart attack after leaving the hospital.

Nearly 8% of patients addicted to opioids died within 12 months of hospital discharge, according to researchers from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).

"We need systems that can address comprehensive needs of people with substance use disorder and serious medical ...

Do Your Genes Up Your Odds for Alcoholism? One Factor Cuts the Risk

Even when genetics and personality are working against you, having a strong network of supportive friends and family may help lower alcoholism risk, researchers say.

"Genes play an important role in alcohol use," stressed Jinni Su, an assistant professor of psychology at Arizona State University in Tempe, and lead author of a new study.

But "genes are not our destiny," she added.

Oxycontin Maker Purdue Dissolved, Family to Pay $4.5 Billion in Bankruptcy Settlement

Purdue Pharma was dissolved on Wednesday and the Sackler family will pay $4.5 billion under a bankruptcy settlement that will end thousands of lawsuits brought against the company over the United States' opioid crisis.

Purdue was the maker of the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin, which was first brought to market in 1996. To date, more than 500,000 Americans have died of opioid overd...

Fatal ODs From Illicit Tranquilizers Jumped 6-Fold During Pandemic

Overdose deaths linked to illicit "designer" benzodiazepines have surged in the United States, as underground labs crank out new synthetic variations on prescription tranquilizers like Valium, Xanax and Ativan.

Overdose deaths involving illicit benzos increased more than sixfold (520%) between 2019 and 2020, rising from 51 to 316, according to data from 32 states and the District of Colum...

Women May Find It Tougher to Quit Smoking Than Men

Women smokers puff fewer cigarettes than men but have more trouble quitting, French researchers report.

"Our findings highlight the need to provide smoking cessation interventions tailored to the needs of women," said Ingrid Allagbe, a doctoral student at the University of Burgundy, who led the research.

The study included nearly 38,000 smokers (about 43% women) aged 18 and older in...

Rising Number of U.S. Cardiac Arrests Tied to Opioid Abuse

There's been a sharp rise in opioid-related cardiac arrests in the United States and they now equal those associated with other prime causes, a new study finds.

Of more than 1.4 million cardiac arrest hospitalizations nationwide between 2012 and 2018, more than 43,000 (3.1%) occurred in opioid users, and there was a significant increase in opioid-associated cardiac arrest over the seven-y...

Family Behind Oxycontin Denies Any Responsibility for Opioid Crisis

The former president and co-chairman of Purdue Pharma said Wednesday that his family and the company bear no responsibility for the opioid crisis in the United States.

Dr. Richard Sackler made his comments in testimony delivered by video during a federal bankruptcy court confirmation hearing for a plan to restructure Purdue and settle all lawsuits against the company and family members fo...

New CDC Guidelines May Have Made Opioid Prescribing Safer

Five years after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention retooled a guideline for prescribing opioid painkillers, research suggests the change is paying off.

With the United States in the grip of an opioid overdose epidemic, the CDC released an evidence-based guideline in 2016 to help doctors treat patients' pain while balancing the risks and benefits of prescription opioids....

Gruesome Cigarette Warnings May Work on Smokers: Study

Gangrene. Throat cancer. A newborn on a feeding tube.

Gruesome warning images like those on cigarette packs do indeed scare smokers, but they should be combined with other anti-smoking measures, a new study finds.

These kinds of graphic warning labels were approved by U.S. lawmakers in 2009, but implementation has been stalled until legal challenges to the law by the tobacco industr...

Drug Makers Reach $26 Billion Deal on Opioid Lawsuits

A proposed $26 billion settlement on opioid-related lawsuits has been reached with four large drug companies, a group of state attorneys general announced Wednesday.

If enough states sign on to the deal with the country's three major drug distributors -- Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and McKesson -- and pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, the companies could be released from all ...

Meth Abuse Drove Huge Surge in Heart Failure Crises in California

In a finding that demonstrates methamphetamine's power to destroy the human heart, new research shows hospitalizations for heart failure related to the illicit drug have soared by 585% in California.

"Our study results should bring urgent attention to this insidious, yet rapidly growing, form of severe heart failure -- methamphetamine-related heart failure [MethHF], which is taking the li...

1 in 20 College Students Has 'Internet Gaming Disorder,' Study Finds

Is it possible to become addicted to gaming on the internet?

Yes, warns new research that discovered when young people get too hooked it may trigger sleep difficulties, depression, anxiety and, in some cases, even suicidal thoughts.

Phone interviews conducted among nearly 3,000 American college students between 2007 and 2015 revealed that roughly one in 20 had "internet gaming disor...

Juul to Pay $40 Million in N.C. Case Over Vaping's Harm to Teens

Juul, the leading e-cigarette maker in the United States, has agreed to pay $40 million to settle a lawsuit by North Carolina that alleged the company intentionally got scores of teenagers hooked on nicotine.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, who sued the company two years ago, announced the settlement on Monday.

The company did not admit to any liab...

Doctors May Be Overprescribing Opioids After Surgeries

Many patients who are prescribed opioids after surgery could get the same level of pain relief with non-opioid alternatives such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen without the risk of addiction, researchers say.

"Opioids have been a routine part of postsurgical pain care for decades, but the risk that they could lead to persistent use has been clearly documented," said lead author Dr. Ryan How...

Did People Smoke More or Less During the Pandemic?

The coronavirus pandemic has affected American smokers in different ways, a new study finds.

While some smoked more to help them cope with the crisis, others quit to reduce their COVID-19 infection risk.

"Even before the pandemic, tobacco smoking was the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. COVID-19 has given smokers yet another good reason to stop smoking," said...

Youth Vaping Rates Decline, But 1 in 5 U.S. Teens Still Uses E-Cigs

Although the number of teens who use e-cigarettes has dropped significantly, new research suggests that vaping rates are still too high.

"This study underscores that flavored e-cigarettes, especially JUUL, have caused the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction in the U.S. and shows why the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] and other policymakers must act now to elimina...

Other Health Woes Common When Meth Addiction Strikes

Methamphetamine users are at increased risk for physical and mental health problems as well as other substance use disorders, new research shows.

Meth is an illegal and highly addictive stimulant drug that can harm organs such as the heart, lungs, liver and neurological system, and injecting it can increase the risk of infectious diseases, the researchers noted.

Their analysis of da...

Feeling Down? Support Via Social Media May Not Be Enough

Looking for a morale boost or some solid encouragement? If so, socializing the old-fashioned way -- live and in-person -- will likely do more to lift your spirits than online interactions, new research suggests.

It's the key takeaway from a survey of more than 400 college undergraduate students.

"We wanted to see if the social support provided over social media was associated with b...

Opioids After Dental Work May Be Dangerous

Getting a prescription for an opioid painkiller from your dentist could put you or your family at risk for an overdose, a new study warns.

The finding is based on an analysis of data from 8.5 million Americans who had teeth pulled or 119 other types of dental work between 2011 and 2018. All had Medicaid or private dental insurance.

"Our paper shows that when patients fill dental opi...

FDA Poised to Ban Menthol Cigarettes

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday proposed a ban on menthol cigarettes, a move that the agency has tried before and one that public health experts and civil rights groups have pushed for years.

Menthol cigarettes have been marketed aggressively to Black Americans for decades: About 85% of Black smokers use menthol brands, the FDA said, and research shows menthol cigarettes...

Who Is Using Herbal Kratom?

Herbal kratom is used by less than 1% of the U.S. population, but the rate is much higher among those who misuse opioid painkillers, a new study finds.

Kratom is used to manage pain and opioid withdrawal. However, it carries the risk of addiction and harmful side effects, which has led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration to identify kratom as a "d...

1 in 5 U.S. Pharmacies Blocks Access to Key Opioid Addiction Treatment

The Biden administration has eased guidelines for prescribing a crucial addiction treatment drug, just as a new study reveals one in five U.S. pharmacies refuses to dispense the medication, called buprenorphine.

"Buprenorphine is a vital, lifesaving medication for people with opioid use disorder, but improving access has been a problem for a variety of reasons," said the study's senior au...

Too Much Pot During Pregnancy May Endanger Baby's Health

Women who use marijuana heavily during pregnancy are more likely to give birth prematurely or have an underweight newborn, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that babies born to moms with problem marijuana use -- what doctors call cannabis use disorder -- faced some higher risks than other newborns.

They were 6% more likely to be born preterm and 13% more likely to be either un...

Pandemic Has Blocked Access to Treatment for Many Americans Hooked on Opioids

The COVID-19 pandemic may have kept some Americans from getting vital medication to treat opioid addiction -- possibly contributing to the national surge in overdose deaths, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that in the early months of U.S. pandemic restrictions, the number of Americans newly receiving prescriptions for buprenorphine dropped by nearly one-quarter.

Buprenorphin...

Jail Dims Hopes for Recovery for Young People With Mental Illness

Being jailed puts teens with untreated psychiatric disorders at increased risk for long-term mental health struggles, researchers say.

"These are not necessarily bad kids, but they have many strikes against them," said study lead author Linda Teplin. "Physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect are common. These experiences can precipitate depression. Incarceration should be the last resort....

People Are Buying Illegal Opioids on the Dark Web

Illegal drug sales on the dark web are common, hard to detect and are fueling America's opioid epidemic, a University of Texas study reveals.

Opioids include prescription painkillers (such as oxycodone) and illegal drugs (such as heroin and fentanyl).

"People are struggling from the effects of addiction," said Tiffany Champagne-Langabeer, senior author of a new investigation of ille...

Most U.S. Adults Who Vape Want to Quit: Study

More than 60% of American adults who vape say they want to stop, a new study reports.

Some use electronic cigarettes to try to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, then end up vaping and smoking, the researchers found.

"While e-cigarettes may work for some people, they're hindering quit attempts for other people," said study first author Amanda Palmer, a postdoctoral fellow at the M...

When Pot Use Starts in Teens, Drug Addiction More Likely: Study

Teens who try marijuana or other drugs are at greater risk of developing a drug addiction than those who wait a few years before experimenting with drugs, a new study finds.

"Though not everyone who uses a drug will develop addiction, adolescents may develop addiction to substances faster than young adults," said study co-lead author Dr. Nora Volkow. She is director of the U.S. National I...

Smoking Makes a Comeback in the Pandemic

Katie Rodgers was just 15 years old when she started smoking, and in her early 20s when it became a more significant habit.

Rodgers found quitting tough, but she managed to kick the habit at age 33 during a global pandemic because she knew that smoking would increase her anxiety and put her at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.

Her achievement was unusual at a time...

Opioid Addiction Relapse May Be Different for Men, Women

Who is more likely to relapse after opioid addiction treatment -- women or men?

A new study that followed 1,100 recovering opioid users reveals that their risks are different.

The researchers followed the men and women for one year after treatment at more than 100 substance-use treatment facilities across the United States. During that time, 55% of the women and 51.5% of the men use...

CBD Won't Help Addicts Kick the Coke Habit: Study

Cannabidiol (CBD) products are seemingly everywhere these days, but they won't help cure a cocaine addiction, a Canadian study finds.

CBD, a chemical in the cannabis plant, has long been touted as a treatment for cocaine addiction. But researchers at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center found that it doesn't lessen addicts' craving for cocaine or reduce their risk of relaps...

Two-Drug Combo May Help Fight Meth Addiction

In what may signal a seismic shift in the treatment of methamphetamine addiction, a pair of prescription drugs appears to help patients significantly reduce their stimulant use, or quit altogether.

The combination therapy involves an injectable medication called extended-release naltrexone and a daily generic pill called bupropion. Naltrexone, which is already used to treat opioid and alc...

Pot Use Ups Odds for Suicide in Young People With Bipolar Disorder

Marijuana addiction increases the risk of death by suicide, homicide and other causes (such as car crashes) in youth and young adults with mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, a new study warns.

For the study, the researchers reviewed data on nearly 205,000 young people, aged 10 to 24, in Ohio who were diagnosed with mood disorders from July 2010 through December 2017.

Marijuana...

As More Legal Pot Dispensaries Open, More Young Adults Start Using

As more states legalize marijuana and more shops begin to sell it, more young adults are using pot and developing drug-use disorders, a new study finds.

For the study, researchers looked at young adults in Los Angeles County before and after retail sale of recreational marijuana was legalized in California.

The study linked areas with many pot shops, particularly unlicensed retailer...

Youth Vaping Triples Odds for Adult Smoking

Vaping may not be a way for kids to avoid the smoking habit, after all. A new study finds that teens who start vaping are three times more likely to smoke cigarettes in adulthood than those who never started with electronic cigarettes.

Although the number of teens who start smoking cigarettes in high school has declined, vaping has soared. From 2016 to 2019, the number of cigarette smoke...

Hope Can Save People From Making Bad Choices: Study

Hope may help prevent you from doing things that aren't good for you, a new study claims.

The investigators wanted to find out why some people are more likely to fall into risky behaviors, such as gambling, drinking too much, taking drugs and overeating.

To do this, the team at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom focused on something called relative deprivation, whic...

Even 'Light' Smoking Can Quickly Become Addictive

Think your 'light' smoking habit isn't really all that dangerous? A new study finds that people who are casual cigarette smokers can also be addicted to nicotine.

Those who smoke one to four cigarettes per day or fewer meet the criteria for nicotine addiction and should be considered for treatment, researchers say.

"In the past, some considered that only patients who smoke around 1...

5 Tips to Help Quit Smoking in 2021

Many smokers make a New Year's resolution to quit, so the American Lung Association offers advice to improve their chances of success.

Smoking is a risk factor for severe COVID-19, so quitting is more important than ever, the association noted.

But keep in mind: Switching to electronic cigarettes is not quitting, the lung association stressed. E-cigarettes are tobacco products that ...

Binge Drinking Soared During Lockdown: Survey

The COVID-19 pandemic and the life stresses it triggers are exacerbating binge drinking, a new study finds.

Researchers conducted an online survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. adults from mid-March to mid-April 2020, coinciding with a pandemic-related stay-at-home order ("lockdown"). Based on the answers, each participant was categorized as a binge drinker, a non-binge drinker or a non-drinker. <...

Youth Vaping Rates Have Plunged During Lockdown: Study

Vaping among teens and young adults has decreased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, with two-thirds of e-cigarette users reporting that they've either cut back or quit, a new study says.

About 32% of e-cigarette users said they quit this year and another 35% reported cutting back, according to survey results published Dec. 3 in JAMA Network Online.

Concerns about l...

Nurse Practitioners Key to Opioid Treatment in Rural U.S.: Study

In isolated areas of the United States, nurse practitioners are filling an important role in helping people access treatment for opioid addiction, according to a Washington State University (WSU) study.

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants have only been authorized to prescribe buprenorphine (a drug that can treat opioid addiction) for the past few years with the implementation of...

FDA Adds Abuse Warning to Labels for Xanax, Valium

Reacting to an upsurge in abuse of benzodiazepine sedatives such as Valium, Xanax and Ativan, U.S. officials on Wednesday added a "Boxed Warning" to the drugs' labels, cautioning about the danger.

Benzodiazepines are tranquilizers commonly prescribed to help ease issues such as anxiety, seizures, insomnia and panic disorders.

But "while benzodiazepines are important therapie...

COVID-19 Poses Added Risk for People With Addiction Disorders: Study

People with addiction disorders are at greater risk for COVID-19 and more likely to become seriously ill if infected, a new study finds.

The researchers analyzed non-identifiable electronic health records of more than 73 million patients in the United States. People with addiction disorders accounted for just over 10% of those in the study, and nearly 16% of COVID-19 cases.

Almost 14 Million U.S. Adults Vape, With Use Rising Fastest in Young

The number of Americans using electronic cigarettes is soaring, especially among youth, a new study finds.

Nearly 14 million U.S. adults vaped in 2018, up from just over 11 million adults in 2016. The increase was seen in all socioeconomic groups, the researchers found.

"An increasing number of individuals are using e-cigarettes, especially in the younger age groups, which...

Each Day Sober Slowly Helps Alcoholics' Brains Recover

A new brain scan study shows why the "one day at a time" approach works for recovering alcoholics.

"For people with AUD [alcohol use disorder], the brain takes a long time to normalize, and each day is going to be a struggle," explained senior study author Rajita Sinha, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Yale University's Child Study Center. "For these people, it really is ...

Nearly Half of U.S. Teens Who Vape Want to Quit

Addictive e-cigarettes have made inroads among American teens, and government campaigns to prevent vaping among the young are everywhere.

But a new survey suggests another focus: Helping teens already hooked on vaping to quit.

The survey of nearly 500 12- to 17-year-olds who vape found that almost half (44.5%) said they were "seriously thinking about quitting," with one ...