Drugs and Alcohol in the News

Substance Abuse Headlines

Marijuana buds
More States Adopt Recreational Marijuana. Stuart Dee/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Below are the latest drug- and alcohol-related news stories from sources around the world.

Voters Expand Recreational Marijuana Legalization
Voters in California, Nevada and Massachusetts approved measures legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, while similar measures failed in Arizona and a recount is expected in Maine where legalization passed by a vote of 381,060 to 376,658. Florida and North Dakota voters approved medical marijuana use, but voters in Arkansas and Montana rejected legalized medical use of the drug.

DEA Moves to Ban Synthetic Drug Pink
After receiving reports of 46 deaths linked to the drug, the Drug Enforcement Administration has moved to temporarily ban the synthetic drug pink. Also known as U-47700, pink has been placed on the list of Schedule I drugs for at least 24 months. A few states have also moved to make the drug illegal.

Groups Welcome Surgeon General's Landmark Report
The Legal Action Center, National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and Treatment Research Institute issued a joint statement in support of the Surgeon General's new report: "Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health." The report "calls for a cultural shift in the way Americans talk about the issue."

Can Antibiotic Help Treat Alcoholism?
Tigecycline, a drug already approved by the FDA for treating infections, may also be effective in the reduction of alcohol drinking, withdrawal symptoms, and pain, studies at Texas Tech and the Oregon Health and Science University indicate.

The antibiotic's anti-inflammatory properties are believed to be the reason it has been shown to reduce binge and chronic consumption, in both dependent and non-dependent animals.

Nurses, PAs to Administer Buprenorphine Treatment
To address the need for expanded access to opioid treatment, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will begin training nurse practitioners and physician assistants to administer the opioid use disorder treatment buprenorphine.

Once trained, they will be able to treat up to 30 patients. Previously, only physicians could do so.

Mom's Warmth a Key to Prevention?
A mother's warmth and sensitivity during interactions with their young children may be a key ingredient in preventing early onset substance abuse, according to researchers at the Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions. Children without maternal sensitivity shown to them as toddlers were more likely to develop higher engagement with substance-using and delinquent peers and drinking in early adolescence.

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Engineered Virus Could Fight Alcoholism
Scientists at Texas A&M University are experimenting with a genetically engineered virus to combat alcoholism. The virus has worked in mice by reversing the effects that alcohol consumption has on neurons in the reward system in the brain's striatum region.

New Painkillers With Few Side Effects?
Researchers are currently testing three compounds that have the painkilling ability of opioids without the dangerous side effects.

All three of the drugs being tested bind to opioid receptors the way morphine does, but activate a different signaling pathway in the brain, lowering the risk of addiction and respiratory depression.

DEA Backs Down on Kratom Scheduling
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has reversed its plan to make kratom a temporary Schedule I drug after receiving feedback from vendors and advocates. Instead, the agency opened an official comment period until December 1, for people to share their experiences using kratom as a medical treatment. The DEA also requested that the FDA expedite research into the plant-based drug.

DEA Demands Cuts in Pain Pill Production
The DEA has demanded that drug manufacturers in the United States reduce the number of opioid pain pills produced in 2017 by 25% or more. The production quota has been reduced for oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine, and other opioid-based drugs.

Video Games Can Influence Teens to Smoke, Drink
Teenagers who play video games that include content related to drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes are twice as likely to drink and smoke themselves. Researchers in the UK found that 44% of the most popular video games contain alcohol and tobacco content.

Most Teens Think e-Cigarettes Are Safer
A survey of U.S. teens found that 73% of students in grades 6 to 12 believe that electronic cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes. Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University, who conducted the survey, feel that e-cigarettes may be re-normalizing smoking.

Cartels Substituting Fentanyl for Heroin?
People who purchase drugs and painkillers in Tijuana, Mexico are being warned by the DEA that drug cartels are selling lethal doses of fentanyl as counterfeit OxyContin and street heroin. Law enforcement officials confiscated 70 pounds of fentanyl and 6,000 counterfeit pills in one month.

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