Addiction Policy Forum Blog

4 min read

We have vaccines for polio and the flu, how about opioid addiction?

By Mark Gold, MD on August 22, 2019

Preliminary 2018 data from the Centers for Disease Control show a slight decline in drug overdose deaths.1 In the view of many experts, increased availability and use of Naloxone, education, and also increased access to Medication for Addiction Treatments (MAT) contributed to this decline.2 However, opioid use disorders and drug overdose rates remain extremely high nationally. Moreover, decreasing overdoses from prescription misuse and heroin should not distract from rising importation, misuse, and overdoses due to fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine.3 With limited treatment options available for these substance use disorders, researchers are working to create novel approaches, using all technologies available, to prevent, treat, and improve the lives of patients and families. In a number of studies and trials, Tom Kosten and his colleagues at Baylor have looked at cocaine, methamphetamine, opioid and even fentanyl vaccines, showing promising results in reducing overdose, misuse, and treating substance use disorders.4 

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3 min read

Can CBD Help in the Treatment of and Recovery from Opioid Use Disorder?

By Mark Gold, MD on June 13, 2019

The physiological cravings that accompany addiction, along with memory cues and environment triggers specific to each patient can cause a recurrence of use or relapse. As such, effective treatment needs to address a person’s behavioral health and help them learn how to cope with stress and environmental triggers.

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3 min read

Risks of Opioid & Alcohol Use for Women Increase with Age

By Mark Gold, MD on June 6, 2019

Alcohol use is very prevalent among Americans - more than half of U.S. adults drank last month - and alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death after tobacco and poor diet/physical inactivity.1,2 When coupled with prescription opioid use, drinking becomes especially dangerous.3 Women are at high-risk of experiencing these adverse health effects, which worsen with age. A recent study illuminates the repercussions of concurrent alcohol and prescription opioid use in older women.

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4 min read

Fentanyl-adulterated Cocaine: Strategies to Address the New Normal

By Mark Gold, MD on April 25, 2019

At the center of America’s deadly opioid epidemic, non-pharmaceutical fentanyl appears to be finding its way into illegal stimulants that are sold on the street, such as cocaine. Adulteration with fentanyl is considered a key reason why cocaine’s death toll is escalating. Cocaine and fentanyl are proving to be a lethal combination - cocaine-related death rates have increased according to national survey data. This has important emergency response and harm reduction implications as well—naloxone might reverse such overdoses if administered in time. A recent study by Nolan et. al. assessed the role of opioids, particularly fentanyl, in the increase in cocaine-involved overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016 and found these substances to account for most of this increase.

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2 min read

CDC clarifies opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic pain

By Addiction Policy Forum on April 24, 2019

Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that new advice on their Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain will be published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

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3 min read

The Paradox of Diverted Buprenorphine

By Mark Gold, MD on April 19, 2019

Buprenorphine, a μ-opioid (pronounced mu-opioid) receptor partial agonist, is a highly effective, evidence-based medication for treating opioid use disorders (OUD). In order to prescribe buprenorphine, qualifying practitioners must obtain a waiver from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which places strict limits on the number of patients they may treat annually. Previous legislation and regulation meant buprenorphine treatment existed nearly entirely outside the traditional healthcare system. Despite legislation that increases the number of patients a doctor can prescribe to, and allowing individual medical providers to become certified, there is still hesitation among many providers over becoming certified to prescribe the medication, many waivered physicians do not have many patients on buprenorphine - some waivered physicians have none at all.

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