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National Academies Releases Interactive Guide on Opioid Epidemic

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has produced an interactive guide to research on the opioid epidemic that highlights the findings of its recent report, Confronting Pain Management and the Opioid Epidemic. The guide breaks down trends in prescription opioid use and misuse, overdose deaths from prescription and illicit opioids, heroin use, and heroin addiction and overdose deaths. It also outlines the report’s recommendations related to strategies for addressing the opioid epidemic, the illicit market, opioid approval and monitoring by the Food and Drug Administration, and research needs.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 3), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

HHS Seeks Nominations for New Pain Management Task Force

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is soliciting nominations for members of their new Pain Management Task Force. The Task Force was announced on August 25 by HHS Secretary Tom Price and is charged with developing best practices for prescribing pain medication and managing pain. The Task Force will be a joint effort with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and is seeking membership from diverse disciplines and views, including experts and patients in pain management, addiction, mental health, minority health, and more. Nominations must be received by September 27, 2017. More information can be found in the announcement in the Federal Register.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Congressional Briefing Highlights Research for Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

On June 24, the National Prevention Science Coalition (NPSC), RTI International (a COSSA member organization), and the American Orthopsychiatry Association sponsored a Congressional briefing, Fighting the Opioid Epidemic on Multiple Fronts by Leveraging Empirical Evidence, to discuss “research-based evidence for strategies preventing, intervening, and maintaining abstinence from opiate addictions.” The briefing’s speakers included Scott Novak, RTI International; Terrence Walton, National Association of Drug Court Professionals; and Kenzie Preston, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Novak’s presentation, “Opioids in America: Opportunities for Prevention and Treatment,” addressed the scope of the United States’ opioid crisis from a scientific perspective and potential opportunities for intervention. He cautioned that the crisis goes beyond the number of overdoses and extends to HIV/AIDS, in part due to the lack of needle exchange and methadone/drug treatment programs. Novak also highlighted the role of long acting Oxycodone and prescription pain reliever misuse and the nonmedical use of prescription opioids as a risk for heroin use/abuse.

In his presentation, “America’s Most Trusted Alternative to Incarceration Is Providing Hope in the Midst of the Opiate Crisis,” Walton described the mission and activities of drugs courts, which are “special court dockets or calendars designed to treat those with substance use disorders and help them change their lives.” The courts provide a “public health response to addiction and mental illness in the justice system,” noted Walton. Citing the National Institute of Justice’s Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Study, which found that the courts significantly reduce drug use and crime, he emphasized that the courts work.

Preston described the various treatments available for opioid addictions, including behavioral therapy and medication for relapse prevention, pathways to abstinence, and NIDA-supported research designed to improve treatment in her presentation, “Treatment of Opioid-Use Disorders: Pathways to Abstinence.” She also examined the promise of mobile health technologies on the horizon, including those that measure mood and behavior, GPS, and biosensors.

COSSA is a partner of NPSC. Videos and the presentations from the session are available on NPSC’s website.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 26), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

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