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Before discharge, overdose ED patients should be connected to treatment options, says NIDA director

Posted on 04-09-2018 Posted in Drug Abuse - 0 Comments

Before discharge, overdose ED patients should be connected to treatment options, says NIDA directorMajority of drug overdose patients, visiting the emergency department (ED), are released immediately after being administered naloxone, the antidote. Paucity of time and staff does not allow further action in any case. But according to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Managing Director Nora Volkow, the practice of discharging victims of an opioid or heroin overdose from the ED, without connecting them to remediation, should be considered a malpractice. The director said this while talking at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit, held from April 2-April 5, 2018 at Atlanta, Georgia.

Research has shown that in the absence of a treatment, one in 10 people who overdose on an opioid or heroin die within a year of overdose. Unfortunately, people who overdose once are likely to land in the ER again. Some are lucky the second time as well, others are not.

Importance of MAT in jails and detention centers

While touting the agency’s work in combating the opioid crisis, Volkow also mentioned the importance of providing medicated-assistance treatment (MAT) in jails and corrections centers. She said that such actions help reduce the rate of mortality from opioid addiction. Currently, almost half of the inmates of prisons and correctional centers have a substance use disorder (SUD). In the absence of medical treatment, the condition of the inmates worsens and most overdose within a year of their release.

Quoting the example of Rhode Island, the director said that the state had started treating every inmate with an opioid or heroin use disorder, with either buprenorphine, methadone or naltrexone, which has reduced the overdose fatalities by 12 percent. Moreover, the number of mortalities involving drug overdose, went down by 60 percent, in the year after release.

NIH launches HEAL

In another related development, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the launch of the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) initiative on April 4 2018. According to the press release, HEAL is “an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions” for stemming the opioid epidemic which has left many dead in its wake.

In order to carry out its missives, the NIH has doubled its funding, with Congressional approval, for opioid-related research and pain from $600 million in 2016 to $1.1 billion for the fiscal year 2018.

HEAL is expected to provide impetus to NIH research through the following measures.

  • Carrying out a study on patients living with musculoskeletal pain for the singular purpose of identyifng the biomarkers of pain.
  • Prioritizing research on all those medications, trials for which had been abandoned midway.
  • Developing a vaccine that would effectively block opioids from crossing over the blood brain barrier (BBB). The BBB is a semipermeable membrane between the blood circulating in the brain and the brain itself. Once this is blocked, the opioids will have no impact on the reward centers in the brain, thereby diminishing the potential for abuse.
  • Finding newer types of MAT, including one involving an extended release antagonist with the ability to last six months in the human body, thereby reducing the need for monthly or daily doses of antidotes.
  • Evaluating the efficacy of therapies like acupuncture, mindfulness and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for treating pain.
  • Developing longer-acting and more potent versions of naloxone.
  • Tackling neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Currently, every 25 minutes, a baby is born with an opioid withdrawal. NAS babies require prolonged hospital stay and have low birthweight and respiratory complications.
  • Identifying other pain medications.

Finding help for heroin and opioid addiction

The opioid epidemic has severely impacted the Americans. Even if an individual is not doing drugs, he/she may have lost a friend, family member, colleague, or neighbor to the opioid epidemic. Drugs like heroin, are not only addictive, but are also psychologically draining.

Sovereign Health of Florida is a trusted treatment center offering integrated treatment plans for substance abuse and addiction problems and various mental disorders. Our state-of-the-art facilities offer heroin detox in Florida in a safe and secure environment ensuring long-term recovery. Call at our 24/7 helpline to know more about our heroin addiction treatment centers. You can also chat online with our representative for immediate assistance.

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