Drugs and Alcohol in the News

Substance Abuse Headlines

Driver With Beer
Circumstances Can Increase DUI Penalties. © Getty Images

Below are the latest drug- and alcohol-related news stories from sources around the world. For more information about alcoholism and recovery-related news, check the homepage.

Drunk Driving Rates Decline Sharply, SAMHSA Reports
Driving under the influence has dropped significantly in the U.S. according to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Overall, past year drunk driving dropped from 15.3% in 2002 to 11.1% in 2014.

In the 21-25 age group, self-reported driving under the influenced fell from 29.9% to 18.9% between 2002—2014.

New Online Tool Available for Opioid Use Treatment
A new online, interactive tool called "Decisions in Recovery: Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder" has been launched by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). According to SAMHSA, the new tool is "designed to help people with opioid use disorders learn about treatment options so that they can work with their healthcare provider in deciding what might work best for them."

Could Kratom Be an Alternative to Opioids?
A report from the American Osteopathic Association recommends further study of the plant-based drug Kratom because of its ability to treat pain because it does not produce the euphoric effects of opioids and does not depress respiration. The DEA delayed a ban of the drug after experts insisted that Kratom was safer and less addictive than current treatments for pain and opioid withdrawal symptoms.

U.S. Doctors Cutting Back on Opioid Prescriptions
A nationwide survey found that more than half of U.S. doctors are curtailing prescriptions for opioid painkillers and about 10% of physicians have stopped prescribing the drugs altogether. The survey found that some doctors have cut back their opioid prescribing even though they felt it caused harm to some of the chronic pain patients.

Binge Drinking Can Quickly Lead to Liver Disease
A study using laboratory animals found that as few as 21 binge drinking sessions were enough to cause early-stage liver disease. The researchers found that binge drinking was more damaging to the liver than daily drinking and caused liver dysfunction usually only seen in long-term, chronic alcoholics.

Alcohol Advertising Influences Underage Drinking
No less than 12 different research studies since 2008 have found that children exposed to alcohol marketing are more likely to start drinking early and more likely to engage in binge drinking. A review of the studies found that the link between alcohol ads and binge drinking was even stronger than the link between marketing and initiation of alcohol use.

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Another Study Debunks Benefits of Moderate Drinking
Although some research has suggested that light alcohol consumption may actually reduce the risk for coronary artery disease (CAD), a study of 1,925 patients using coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) has found no association between light to moderate alcohol consumption and CAD.

Heroin Most Frequently Involved in Overdose Deaths
Between 2010 and 2014, heroin was the drug most often involved in overdoses that resulted in death, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

More than 47,000 people in the United States were the victim of drug overdoses in 2014, including overdoses from heroin, oxycodone, methadone, morphine, morphine, hydrocodone, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium).

Deaths From Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids Increase
According to another CDC report, 33,091 people died from overdoses of illicit and prescription opioid painkillers in 2015. Deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids rose 72 percent from 2014 to 2015 with the highest increases in overdoses reported in New York, Connecticut, and Illinois.

Expert Says All Pain Patients Should Have Naloxone Too
Due to the risk of opioid overdose, all pain patients who have been on long-term opioid treatment should also be prescribed the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, according to Dr. Joanna Katzman, director of the University of New Mexico Pain Center. The risk of overdose in pain patients can go from low to moderate to high too quickly, Katzman says.

Increase Seen in Risky Alcohol Consumption in Older Adults
An NYU study found an alarming increase in alcohol consumption among adults age 50 and over between the years 2005 and 2014. The researchers were particularly surprised at the increase in binge drinking among older women.

New Data Files Added to SAMHSA Archive
New files have been added to the enhanced Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHDA) including: 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Public-Use Files; 2012 National Mental Health Services Survey (N-MHSS); 2013 and 2014 Treatment Episode Data Sets for Admissions (TEDS-A); 2012 and 2013 Treatment Episode Data Sets for Discharges (TEDS-D); and the 2014 National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS).

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