KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: The Link Between Despair And The Opioid Crisis; Big Tobacco And E-Cigarettes

A selection of public health opinions from around the country.

Stat: Fighting Despair Offers A Key Way To Stop Opioid Abuse
Addiction thrives when people and communities don’t. That’s the essential lesson of a recently released Brookings Institution study that has deep implications for how our nation will address its opioid crisis. We assume that life expectancy will continue to improve in the United States. Yet this study found that the death rate of non-Hispanic whites between the ages of 45 and 54 who don’t have a college degree has increased by half a percent every year from 1999 to 2013. What’s going on? One key contributor that the researchers cite is a rise in the number of “deaths of despair” — deaths from drugs, alcohol, and suicide — that can be traced to waning economic opportunities and a frayed social fabric. In other words, deaths that spring from lack of hope, purpose, and opportunity. (Manal Aboelata, Larry Cohen and Sheila Savannah, 5/9)

Stat: The Shadow Of Big Tobacco Looms Over E-Cigarettes And Harm Reduction
Harm reduction encompasses strategies aimed at reducing harmful physical or social consequences that stem from legal and illegal behaviors. It accepts that individuals will engage in potentially risky behaviors, and so aims to minimize their impact. Examples of harm reduction strategies include providing methadone to heroin users, endorsing the use of condoms to prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, opening needle exchanges to prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis among individual who inject drugs, and promoting e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco as alternatives to smoking combustible cigarettes. Harm reduction interventions reduce some, but not all, of the short-term and long-term risks for any given behavior. It is not necessarily inconsistent with the goal of total cessation or abstinence, but that isn’t its main priority. (Amy Fairchild and Ronald Bayer, 5/8)

The Charlotte Observer: A Mom’s Story: Why Medical Marijuana Is Pro-Life
Jennifer Evans’ tweet shot through the Twitter clutter. “Being a cancer mom is tough, but nothing like what my son is going through. I pray we can get cannabis legalized here in NC!!” In late 2015, a month before his 14th birthday, Aaron Evans was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Imagine it was you hearing the words, “Grade-three anaplastic astrocytoma,” and the brain scan you see was your son’s or daughter’s. Your entire being would be fired with the passion to do whatever it would take to save your child’s life – which is exactly what Jennifer Evans did. (Keith Larson, 5/9)

The New York Times: Disability And The Right To Choose
In my 20s, I was neutral about parenthood partly because, as a woman with cerebral palsy, I was spared the usual intrusive questioning and expectations about having children that most women are subject to. People never pressured me to have children; they just assumed that I could not. In fact, it became clear very fast that women like me are expected not to reproduce. Now, in my 40s, I find these attitudes ignorant and prejudicial, but as a young woman, it seemed like a bit of freedom to be excused from the usual problems women complain about. (Jennifer Bartlett, 5/10)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.