Tag Archives: Opioids

20 Percent Of Americans Have Known Someone Suffering From Opioid Addiction

(DCNF) A federal survey reveals roughly 20 percent of Americans know or have known someone struggling with addiction to opioid painkillers.

The annual report on the economic well being of U.S. households by the Federal Reserve System included questions regarding exposure to opioids, a first in the history of the survey. It found at least one in five Americans personally know someone suffering with an addiction to opioids, reported The Hill.

While the study revealed that white people are roughly twice as likely to be impacted by opioid abuse, the results also showed opioid addiction does not discriminate along socioeconomic lines.

“Adults who have been personally exposed to the opioid epidemic have somewhat less favorable assessments of economic conditions than those who have not been exposed,” said researchers, according to The Hill. “However, local unemployment rates are similar in the neighborhoods where those exposed to opioids live and where those not exposed live. Altogether, this analysis suggests the need to look beyond economic conditions to understand the roots of the current opioid epidemic.”

The researchers noted that a majority of adults impacted by the opioid epidemic have a positive view of their local economy.

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increase is driven primarily by opioids, which claimed 42,249 lives in 2016, a 28-percent increase over the roughly 33,000 lives lost to opioids in 2015.

Opioid overdoses made up a staggering 66 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2016, surpassing the annual number of lives lost to breast cancer. Deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl, a painkiller about 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, experienced a particularly dramatic increase, more than doubling from 9,580 lives in 2015 to 19,413 lives in 2016.

The epidemic is contributing to declining life expectancy in the U.S., officials said. Life expectancy dropped for the second consecutive year in 2016 for the first time since an outbreak of influenza in 1962 and 1963.

Written by Steve Birr; follow Steve on Twitter.


This article was republished with permission from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Reality Check: FDA’s Disinformation Campaign on Kratom

The opioid crisis is one of the biggest stories in the U.S. with tens of thousands of Americans dying from opioid overdoses.

So why would the FDA crack down on a substance that may help save lives?

Some say the agency has actually been involved in a massive disinformation campaign against a substance called kratom. What is kratom, and why is the FDA fighting so hard against it?

This is a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

Another White House administration is making fighting the opioid epidemic a top priority. And again, the focus is on the wrong thing.

What if, while ignoring the root causes of the opioid epidemic, the FDA is also fighting a substance that is saving people’s lives who suffer from opioid addiction?

Before we can answer that question, let’s talk about the substance the FDA is looking to ban. It’s called kratom.

So what is kratom?

Kratom is a tropical tree in the coffee family. It is commonly used in raw plant form, with the dried leaves used to make tea or crushed and mixed with food. Indigenous to Southeast Asia, the plant has become popular in the U.S. as a natural medicine.

So how popular is kratom?

Actually, millions of people around the world take it for chronic pain, alcohol addiction, weaning off opiates, depression, anxiety, PTSD and more.

But the FDA says kratom is actually just as dangerous as opioids. In fact, in November, the FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recommended that kratom be scheduled as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it is highly addictive and has no proven medical value.

In addition, the FDA claims that kratom is responsible for 36 deaths.

But here’s the problem: just days ago, nine leading scientists in substance addiction and safety wrote to the White House Opioid Crisis Team Leader Kellyann Conway and acting-DEA Administrator Robert Patterson.

They encouraged both to disregard the FDA’s claims about kratom, pointing out serious flaws in the agency’s claims.

“The scientists warned that ‘four surveys indicate that kratom is presently serving as a lifeline away from strong, often dangerous opioids for many of the several million Americans who use kratom. A ban on kratom that would be imposed by CSA Scheduling would put them at risk of relapse to opioid use with the potential consequence of overdose death. Similar unintended consequences are to be expected in some who would be forced to use opioids to manage acute or chronic pain.'”

These scientists went on to challenge the claims by the FDA by pointing out that, “available science is clear that kratom, although having effects on opioid receptors in the brain, is distinct from classical opioids (e.g. morphine, heroin, oxycodone, etc.) in its chemistry, biological effects, and origin.”

Kratom is not poppy based. it is a tree in the coffee family, and therefore has a reportedly milder euphoric effect than traditional opioids and opiates.

The other important rebuttal these scientists made was to point out that the FDA used significantly flawed information when it claimed kratom was responsible for 36 deaths.

“…the fatalities that the FDA lists as having been associated with kratom include deaths with a wide variety of apparent causes in people suffering from various diseases and/or taking other substances that also likely contributed to their deaths. For example, it includes 9 fatalities in Sweden that resulted from an adulterated product that included the active substance of the prescription opioid tramadol…” 

In response, the FDA commissioner released more information on those who have died, the agency says, from kratom. And that information is even more stunning.

According to HuffPo:

“Almost all of the FDA’s cases involve subjects who were found to be on multiple substances at the time of their death, with the vast majority including either illicit or prescription drugs that carry well-known fatal risks.

“FDA’s list of kratom-related deaths  includes a 43-year-old man determined to have died from complications due to deep vein thrombosis.

“He had a long list of medical problems… At the time of his death, he’d recently been prescribed five different medicines.

“His toxicology test came back positive for opioids, Xanax, antidepressants and a medication apparently used to treat his Tourette’s syndrome. He also tested positive for kratom.

“One case involves a man who had fallen out a window, broken his arm and refused treatment before dying.

“He was ultimately found to have had nine different substances in his bloodstream, among them, the primary psychoactive substance in kratom.

“One case the FDA listed as a kratom-related death, which has been completely redacted in the document, appears elsewhere in an agency database as a death by homicide due to a gunshot wound to the chest.”

So why is the FDA doing this? We don’t know the motives of the FDA but as I have shown you in the past, the FDA suffers from severe conflicts of interest, especially when it comes to the revolving door between the agency and Big Pharma.

With the government spending more than $500 billion per year to fight the opioid epidemic, one could assume there are lines of pharmaceutical companies looking for product alternatives.

But remember, any naturally occurring substance like kratom cannot be privately patented. So there is no real profit incentive for Big Pharma in kratom.

So what you need to know is that while I won’t speculate about what the FDA is ultimately trying to do, I can tell you what the FDA wants done.

The agency wants kratom to become subject to an FDA new drug application. To be clear, they say a naturally occurring plant taken in its raw form, that is helping millions of people right now, needs to be banned and become subject to a study that would take no less than 10 years and cost up to $2.5 billion dollars.

More importantly, what the FDA is recommending is exactly the opposite of the agency’s charge. There is no evidence that kratom, on its own, is harming anyone.

And so the question remains. If the FDA is successful, will the agency actually push millions of people toward more dangerous alternatives, including harmful opioids? If so, how is that making the fight against opioid abuse a priority?

That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about that, right now, on Twitter and Facebook.

Marijuana Shows Potential in Treating Painkiller Addiction

Could marijuana be just what the doctor ordered to kick an addiction to opioid painkillers, the most widely prescribed class of drugs in America today?

Two reputable studies published in the last year point to this conclusion.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 14,000 people died from overdoses involving painkillers in 2014. That’s roughly 40 individuals per day.

When heroin is thrown into the mix, the death toll from opiates surpassed 28,000 people in 2014, a 14 percent increase year over year.

The rise in heroin use corresponds with an increase in prescription drug abuse over the last decade.

Prescription painkillers, for example, are involved in 68 percent of opioid overdoses treated in emergency rooms, according to the CDC and Federal Drug Administration.

The toll does not discriminate, impacting all major demographics, including women, inner-city racial minorities and suburban white youth. Sales of opioids reached nearly $2 billion in 2014.

Earlier this month, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the rate of death related to painkillers is 25 percent lower on average in states where medical marijuana use is legal compared with states where it remains prohibited.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia allow the marijuana plant to be used for medicinal purposes. And 16 states allow the use of cannabis oil without psychoactive effects to be used for certain medical conditions like epilepsy and Crohn’s disease.

And last summer, a Columbia University study found that among 60 patients, smoking marijuana was associated with successful completion an opioid detoxification program.

“Post-hoc analysis showed that the 32 percent of participants who smoked marijuana regularly during the outpatient phase had significantly lower ratings of insomnia and anxiety and were more likely to complete the 8-week trial,” the study extract reports.

Meanwhile, several states are moving to limit the prescribing of opioid painkillers like Hydrocodone and Oxycontin in an effort to limit abuse and dependence.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts, for example, passed a bill this month to restrict painkiller prescriptions to a 7-day supply. Vermont and Maine are exploring similar proposals.

And in Kentucky, opioid prescriptions dropped 8.6 percent in 2012 after doctors were required to check databases designed to weed out pill mills and doctor shopping.

Most states now have similar monitoring programs in place.