Trump Plans to Slash Drug Policy Office Budget


The Trump Administration is planning to cut more than $340 million from the budget of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), CBS News reports. The administration will eliminate the agency’s grant-making capabilities, according to the article. Two grant programs–the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) and Drug-Free Communities (DFC)–would be relocated to, and managed by, the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services. According to a spokesperson from the White House Office of Management and Budget, the administration’s 2019 budget is not final. HIDTA provides assistance to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States. DFC is the largest drug prevention program in the U.S.

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New Report Finds That Using E-Cigarettes May Lead Youth to Start Smoking, Adults to Stop Smoking


A new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine takes a comprehensive look at evidence on the human health effects of e-cigarettes. Although the research base is limited given the relatively short time e-cigarettes have been used, the committee that conducted the study identified and examined over 800 peer-reviewed scientific studies, reaching dozens of conclusions about a range of health impacts. Evidence suggests that while e-cigarettes are not without health risks, they are likely to be far less harmful than conventional cigarettes, the report says. They contain fewer numbers and lower levels of toxic substances than conventional cigarettes, and using e-cigarettes may help adults who smoke conventional cigarettes quit smoking. However, their long-term health effects are not yet clear. Among youth -- who use e-cigarettes at higher rates than adults do -- there is substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases the risk of transitioning to smoking...

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Walmart to Help Customers Safely Dispose of Opioids


Walmart will give customers filling opioid prescriptions a packet of powder they can use to safely dispose of leftover medication, Reuters reports. Patients filling opioid prescriptions at Walmart or Sam’s Clubs pharmacies will receive a free packet of DisposeRx. To safely dispose of opioids, a person adds warm water and the powder to their pill bottle, which then forms a biodegradable gel around the pills. According to a Walmart news release, “Beginning immediately, patients filling any new Class II opioid prescription at Walmart pharmacies will receive a free DisposeRx packet and opioid safety information brochure when picking up their prescription. Patients with chronic Class II opioid prescriptions will be offered a free DisposeRx packet every six months.”

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Recreational marijuana legalization: Do more youth use or do youth use more?


What impact may legalization of recreational marijuana in Oregon have on teen marijuana use? Recent results from an Oregon Research Institute (ORI) study indicate that the influence of legalization on youth may depend on whether they were already using at the time of legalization. Following legalization of recreational marijuana, no significant changes in the numbers of youth who used marijuana occurred, yet increases in the frequency of use by youth who were already using marijuana were found. For teenagers who had tried marijuana by 8th grade, the frequency of use during the following year increased 26% more for those who were in 9th grade after marijuana was legalized compared to those who were in 9th grade prior to legalization. The research results are published online in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Source: Science Daily and Oregon Research Institute

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DEA Announces Step to Increase Opioid Addiction Treatment


The United States Drug Enforcement Administration announced a deregulatory measure that will make it easier for residents of underserved areas to receive treatment for opioid addiction. As published in the Federal Register, nurse practitioners and physician assistants can now become DATA-Waived qualifying practitioners, which give them authority to prescribe and dispense the opioid maintenance drug buprenorphine from their offices. Prior to the enactment of the Drug Abuse Treatment Act of 2000, only physicians could treat opioid addicts and had to register with DEA as both physicians and operators of Narcotic Treatment Programs. Waiving this second registration prompted more physicians to offer treatment services. The Federal Register notice is available here: This action brings DEA regulations into conformity with the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act passed by Congress and signed into law in 2016. Because the vast majority of DATA-Waived physicians prior to CARA served urban areas, rural parts of the United...

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Supervised Injection Facilities Can Benefit People Using Intravenous Drugs


People who inject drugs in a facility where staff members provide clean needles and guard against overdoses say they have reduced their use of public spaces for drug use, a new study finds. Using supervised injection facilities also has given them a greater ability to use hygienic injecting practices and provides better protection from fatal overdoses, they told authors of the study. More than 100 supervised injection facilities operate legally in 166 cities throughout the world, Reuters reports. There are no such facilities that are legally sanctioned in the United States. The study involved one staff member and 22 participants from one community-based organization that has successfully operated an underground facility since September 2014. Lead author Peter Davidson of the University of California, San Diego told Reuters no one has ever overdosed in a supervised injection facility, where staff members are equipped with the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. The findings were...

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Senate Report: Medicaid Contributing to Opioid Crisis


Medicaid is contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis by establishing incentives that make it profitable to abuse and sell opioids, a report by Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee concludes. The report notes that at least 1,072 people have been convicted or charged nationwide since 2010 for improperly using Medicaid to obtain prescription opioids, some of which were then resold on the nation’s streets. “The number of criminal defendants increased 18 percent in the four years after Medicaid expanded, 2014-2017, compared to the four years prior to Medicaid expansion,” the report states. The committee’s top Democrat, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, said Medicaid expansion is not to blame for the opioid epidemic, USA Today reports. “This idea that Medicaid expansion is fueling the rise in opioid deaths is total hogwash,” McCaskill said. “It is not supported by the facts. And I am concerned that this committee is using...

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Move to Lower Legal Blood Alcohol Levels to Reduce Drunk Driving Deaths


A new report calls for lowering legal blood alcohol levels to reduce drunk driving deaths. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report recommends lowering legal blood alcohol levels for drivers from 0.08 to 0.05 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC), according to HealthDay. The report also calls for increasing alcohol taxes significantly, strengthening policies to prevent illegal alcohol sales to people under 21 and to already-intoxicated adults, enacting all-offender ignition interlock laws, and providing effective treatment for offenders when needed. “Strong evidence from the U.S. and other countries, such as Canada, shows that individuals convicted of alcohol-impaired driving who have ignition interlocks installed on their vehicles are less likely than others to be rearrested for alcohol-related driving or to crash while the device is installed,” the report states. “Therefore, all states should enact laws to require ignition interlocks — breath alcohol analyzers connected to the ignition system of a vehicle...

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Opioid Overdoses Fuel Rise in Accidental Deaths


Opioid overdoses are fueling a sharp increase in accidental deaths in the United States, according to a new report by the National Safety Council (NSC). The group found accidental deaths became the third-leading cause of fatalities in 2016 for the first time in more than a century, NPR reports. Accidents accounted for 161,374 deaths that year, up 10 percent from 2015. Common causes of accidental deaths include motor vehicle crashes, falls, drowning, choking and poisoning—a category that includes accidental overdoses. In a statement, NSC said, “The unprecedented spike [in accidental deaths] has been fueled by the opioid crisis. Unintentional opioid overdose deaths totaled 37,814 from drugs including prescription opioid pain relievers, heroin, and illicitly-made fentanyl.”

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Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities Through a Comprehensive Approach


Alcohol-impaired driving remains the deadliest and costliest danger on U.S. roads today. Every day in the United States, 29 people die in an alcohol-impaired driving crash—one death every 49 minutes. After decades of progress, alcohol-impaired driving fatality rates plateaued and have increased for the past two years—making it a persistent public health and safety problem. Each alcohol-impaired driving crash represents a failure of the system. A coordinated, systematic, multi-level approach spanning multiple sectors is needed to accelerate change. With support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a committee to help identify promising strategies to reduce deaths caused by alcohol-impaired driving in the United States. The resulting report, Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: A Comprehensive Approach to a Persistent Problem, highlights interventions and actions to reduce alcohol-impaired driving fatalities— including ways to improve important existing interventions—and presents ideas for reviving public...

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