What Does Quitting Opioids Actually Look Like Inside The Brain?
Scientists hope that studying the way the brain reacts during and after addiction will help them develop best practices for getting people to quit. In other news on the epidemic: debates about what to do with fentanyl; medication-assisted treatment; a decrease in opioid deaths; and more.
The Associated Press:
A Peek Into Opioid Users' Brains As They Try To Quit
Lying inside a scanner, the patient watched as pictures appeared one by one: A bicycle. A cupcake. Heroin. Outside, researchers tracked her brain's reactions to the surprise sight of the drug she'd fought to kick. Government scientists are starting to peek into the brains of people caught in the nation's opioid epidemic, to see if medicines proven to treat addiction, like methadone, do more than ease the cravings and withdrawal. Do they also heal a brain damaged by addiction? And which one works best for which patient? (7/9)
Trump Administration Drug Officials Clash Over How To Combat Fentanyl Copycats
Trump administration officials are divided over part of a proposal to crack down on illicit versions of fentanyl, the deadly synthetic painkiller that U.S. President Donald Trump targeted in declaring a national opioid abuse emergency. In an inter-agency dispute that highlights the challenges of curbing opioid abuse, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is publicly backing tighter rules for fentanyl analogues, which are slightly altered copycat versions of the powerful drug fueling an explosion in overdoses. (7/9)
CMS Policy Change Improved Addiction Treatment Access
The CMS' push for Medicare plans to reduce preauthorization barriers to medication-assisted treatment for patients with opioid use disorders has worked very well, according to a new study. Now the agency should apply similar pressure on Medicaid and private health plans, which cover a far larger number of Americans with addiction treatment needs, the researchers recommend in a study published in JAMA. (Meyer, 7/9)
Minnesota Opioid Deaths Decreased In 2018. Has State Turned The Corner In Drug Battle?
The number of Minnesotans who died of an opioid overdose decreased in 2018, putting an end to a streak of increases that spanned close to a decade. There were 331 opioid overdose deaths last year, down from 422 in 2017, according to preliminary data released Tuesday by the state Health Department. The decline was driven by decreases in deaths that involved prescription opioid painkillers and heroin. ...The overall number of drug overdose deaths in the state declined from 733 in 2017 to 607 in 2018. Deaths from methamphetamine leveled out while overdoses from cocaine and benzodiazepines decreased. (Faircloth, 7/9)
Numbers Suggest Progress On Opioid Fight
State health officials say new data suggest progress is being made in the opioid epidemic with preliminary numbers released Tuesday showing a significant drop in opioid overdose deaths from 2017 to 2018. Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm stressed that last year's numbers are still preliminary. (Zdechlik, 7/9)
Stop Sending Men To Prison For Addiction Treatment, Group Recommends
A state advisory commission has recommended that the Legislature put an end to the practice of incarcerating men who are civilly committed for addiction treatment. The nonbinding recommendation by the Section 35 Commission, released this week, may bolster proposed legislation requiring that those ordered into treatment receive care at a licensed facility. (Freyer, 7/9)