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02 Feb

Drugged Driving Is Becoming More Common On U.S. Roadways

Researchers warn drugged driving causes a high level of fatalities

Health News Results - 46

Fatal Opioid ODs Keep Rising in Black Americans

The decades-long U.S. opioid epidemic could be hitting Black people harder than white folks as the crisis enters a new phase.

Opioid overdose death rates among Black Americans jumped nearly 40% from 2018 to 2019 in four states hammered by the epidemic, researchers found.

Fatal ODs among all other races and ethnicities remained about the same during that time.

This represents a...

Fatal ODs From Illicit Tranquilizers Jumped 6-Fold During Pandemic

Overdose deaths linked to illicit "designer" benzodiazepines have surged in the United States, as underground labs crank out new synthetic variations on prescription tranquilizers like Valium, Xanax and Ativan.

Overdose deaths involving illicit benzos increased more than sixfold (520%) between 2019 and 2020, rising from 51 to 316, according to data from 32 states and the District of Colum...

Rising Number of U.S. Cardiac Arrests Tied to Opioid Abuse

There's been a sharp rise in opioid-related cardiac arrests in the United States and they now equal those associated with other prime causes, a new study finds.

Of more than 1.4 million cardiac arrest hospitalizations nationwide between 2012 and 2018, more than 43,000 (3.1%) occurred in opioid users, and there was a significant increase in opioid-associated cardiac arrest over the seven-y...

Hearts From Drug Abusers Can Be Used for Transplants

In a finding that could mean more patients desperate for a heart transplant get a new lease on life, two new studies show that hearts from donors who abused drugs can be safely donated.

In the past two decades, the U.S. opioid crisis has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans -- often young, otherwise healthy people. One result is that a rising percentage of potential donor...

Loneliness Raises Opioid Dangers in Seniors: Study

Illustrating a heartbreaking cycle, new research finds that lonely seniors are much more likely to take opioid painkillers, sedatives, anti-anxiety drugs and other medications.

This puts them at increased risk for drug dependency, attention problems, falls, accidents and mental decline, the University of California, San Francisco researchers warned.

"There's a misconception that as ...

Could Heavy Marijuana Use Be Driving Rise in Schizophrenia Cases?

There's been a sharp rise in schizophrenia cases linked with marijuana use since the mid-1990s, a new Danish study finds.

Prior research has suggested that marijuana -- particularly very heavy use -- is associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia. Although strict cause-and-effect can't be proven by the new study, many experts believe that heavy pot use might work in conjuncti...

U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Jumped Nearly 30% During Pandemic

As America went into lockdown and treatment centers closed their doors, drug overdose deaths in the United States jumped by nearly a third last year, new data show.

The estimated 93,331 drug overdose deaths recorded during 2020 are a sharp increase -- a 29.4% rise -- over the 72,151 deaths estimated in 2019, according to preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NC...

Dr. Rahul Gupta to Be Nominated as Next U.S. Drug Czar

President Joe Biden plans to nominate Dr. Rahul Gupta as the head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Gupta led the Biden transition team for that office, was the former health commissioner of West Virginia, and is chief medical and health officer for the March of Dimes, CNN reported.

If confirmed as the so-called drug czar, Gupta would be the first p...

Autism & Drinking, Drug Abuse Can Be Dangerous Mix

Teens and adults with autism may be less likely than others to use drugs and alcohol, but new research finds those who do are nearly nine times more likely to use these substances to mask symptoms, including those related to autism.

This is known as camouflaging, and it has been linked to mental health issues and increased risk for suicide among people with autism.

"Seeing such star...

Pot Use May Change the Teenage Brain, MRIs Show

Smoking pot appears to affect teens' brain development, altering it in ways that could diminish their reasoning, decision-making and memory skills as they age, a new study reports.

Brain scans of about 800 teenagers found that those who started smoking pot tended to have increased thinning of the cerebral cortex -- the outer layer of the brain responsible for thought, perception and langu...

Doctors May Be Overprescribing Opioids After Surgeries

Many patients who are prescribed opioids after surgery could get the same level of pain relief with non-opioid alternatives such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen without the risk of addiction, researchers say.

"Opioids have been a routine part of postsurgical pain care for decades, but the risk that they could lead to persistent use has been clearly documented," said lead author Dr. Ryan How...

Death Rates Are Rising Across Rural America

In rural America, more people die from chronic health conditions and substance abuse than in suburbs and cities, and the gap is widening.

Researchers report in a new study that the difference in rural and urban death rates tripled over the past 20 years mostly due to deaths among middle-aged white men and women.

"We looked at all-cause death, and found that instead of the difference...

Who Is Using Herbal Kratom?

Herbal kratom is used by less than 1% of the U.S. population, but the rate is much higher among those who misuse opioid painkillers, a new study finds.

Kratom is used to manage pain and opioid withdrawal. However, it carries the risk of addiction and harmful side effects, which has led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration to identify kratom as a "d...

Rising U.S. Deaths After Users Mix Coke, Meth With an Opioid

Overdose deaths resulting from a dangerous combination of cocaine and opioids are outpacing fatalities linked to cocaine abuse alone, a new U.S. government report warns.

"Much of the increase in the rate of drug overdose deaths involving cocaine in recent years is due to the co-occurrence of opioids," said study author Dr. Holly Hedegaard.

A similar trend has started taking hold bec...

FDA Clamping Down on Abuse of an OTC  Decongestant

Makers of inhalers that contain the nasal decongestant propylhexedrine should make design changes to prevent misuse, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Propylhexedrine is a nasal decongestant in over-the-counter inhalers, and right now is "only marketed under the brand name Benzedrex," the FDA said. The agency said that propylhexedrine is effective and safe when used for short pe...

Anabolic Steroids Could Do Long-Term Harm to Testicles: Study

Men who use anabolic steroids may be doing serious damage to their testicular function, new research warns.

And the damage may last long after they stop.

Illegal use of the drugs is not uncommon among athletes seeking to increase muscle size and strength and look more muscular, according to study lead author Dr. Jon Rasmussen, a postdoctoral scientist at the University Hospital of C...

Pandemic Unemployment Has Taken Its Own Deadly Toll

With U.S. deaths from COVID-19 passing the grim milestone of a half-million, a new study suggests that another 30,000-plus Americans have died due to pandemic-related unemployment.

Using various data sources, researchers estimated that number of deaths between April 2020 and March 2021 could be attributed to pandemic-fueled job losses.

And in a pattern that's been repeatedly seen, B...

Child Bullies at Higher Odds for Substance Abuse as Adults: Study

Schoolyard bullies have been making life difficult for kids for eons, often causing lasting damage to their victims. Now, new research shows these bullies can also suffer lasting consequences as they age.

Bullies may be more likely to abuse drugs, alcohol and tobacco later in life, and this risk is greater for childhood bullies than those who picked on others during their adolescent ...

In Philadelphia, an Animal Tranquilizer Is Driving Deadly Rise in Opioid ODs

Philadelphia is seeing a surge in overdose fatalities involving heroin and/or fentanyl plus an animal tranquilizer not approved for human use, according to a new study.

The tranquilizer -- called xylazine -- is a non-opioid sedative and painkiller approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration solely as a veterinary drug. In Philadelphia, it goes by the street name "tranq."

Tranq...

U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Reach Record Highs

The number of U.S. drug overdose deaths reached a record high as the coronavirus pandemic held the country in its grip last spring, new government data shows.

For the 12 months ending in May, more than 81,000 people died from an overdose. That is the highest number ever recorded during a 12-month period, scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"The ...

Pandemic Is Driving U.S. Surge in Cardiac Arrests Tied to Overdose

Blame it on the pandemic: For people struggling with drug addiction, 2020 has triggered a big rise in emergency room visits for cardiac arrest tied to drug overdoses, new research shows.

The finding was based on data involving 80% of emergency medical services (EMS) "activations" across the United States. It showed "a large-magnitude, national surge in overdose-related cardiac arrest duri...

Opioid Deaths in Young Americans Often Involve Other Drugs

Opioid overdose deaths involving more than one substance are more common among American teens and young adults than deaths caused by opioids alone, researchers report.

They also found that stimulants such as cocaine and crystal methamphetamine are the non-opioid substances most commonly involved in opioid overdose deaths in young people. Moreover, opioid overdose deaths involving stimulan...

'Diseases of Despair' Skyrocket in America

Even before the coronavirus pandemic began, Americans were already suffering: A new study reports that alcohol and drug misuse were up dramatically, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors were up 170% between 2009 and 2018.

Researchers call these conditions "diseases of despair."

"The origin of these conditions isn't strictly medical. Rather, they seem to follow conditions of despair i...

Another Tragedy Tied to Opioids: Eye Disease

America's ongoing opioid epidemic is costing increasing numbers of addicts their eyesight, a new study reports.

The number of drug addicts who developed vision-endangering eye infections quadrupled between 2003 and 2016, according to researchers.

"For whatever reason, these infections have a propensity for often getting near the good center of vision. It's quite frequent for patient...

U.S. Drug Deaths Might Be Twice as High as Thought

Drugs may kill twice as many Americans as government records suggest, a new study claims.

In 2016, the reported rate of drug-related deaths among 15- to 64-year-olds was 9% -- compared with about 4% several years earlier -- with 63,000 deaths classified as drug-related.

However, the new study concluded that the actual number of drug-related deaths could have been abo...

As Manufacturing Jobs End, Opioid OD Deaths May Rise

It's a connection that health officials might miss, but an alarming new study shows that when factories close, deaths from opioid overdoses soar.

"There's this sense of increasing despair among people -- especially people who are working-class who have seen in the last several decades a lot of their economic opportunities wither away," said lead researcher Dr. Atheendar Venkataraman...

Heavy Drinking Plus Xanax, Valium: A Dangerous Mix

People who regularly drink to excess are also likely to use benzodiazepines, a new study finds.

These drugs -- like Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Restoril (temazepam) -- are used to treat depression and anxiety.

But when heavy drinkers use them, benzodiazepines (sometimes referred to as "benzos") may increase the risk...

Teen Opioid Users Face Same OD Risks as Adults

U.S. teens and young adults are as likely as older people to overdose on prescription opioid painkillers and have the same risk factors, researchers say.

They analyzed data on 2.8 million privately insured patients from 12 to 21 years of age who received opioid prescriptions between 2009 and 2017.

One in 10,000 had an opioid overdose, the same rate as among adult patients wi...

Frequent Male Pot Use Linked to Early Miscarriages

Men who use marijuana at least once a week are twice as likely to see their partner's pregnancy end in miscarriage, compared to those who use no pot, new research suggests.

Miscarriages related to frequent male pot use tended to occur within eight weeks of conception, which bolsters suspicions that marijuana use damages sperm in some essential way, said le...

Fatal Opioid ODs Rise as Temperatures Fall

Why do opioid overdose deaths spike after cold snaps?

That's the mystery Brown University researchers set out to solve in a study of more than 3,000 opioid-related deaths in Connecticut and Rhode Island between 2014 and 2017.

The new analysis uncovered a 25% increase in opioid overdose deaths within three to seven days of freezing temperatures, compared to stretches when...

Caffeine, Nicotine Withdrawal Can Cause Problems in the ICU: Study

Sudden withdrawal from coffee and cigarettes can trigger symptoms that mimic serious disease, leading to unnecessary tests in hospital intensive care units, a new review concludes.

"Nicotine and caffeine are some of the most commonly used and highly addictive substances in modern society, but they are often overlooked as a potential source of significant withdrawal symptoms when abrup...

Less Pain, More Car Crashes: Legalized Marijuana a Mixed Bag

If Colorado is any indication, the legalization of marijuana does not come without health hazards.

New research shows that while it led to a decline in hospitalizations for chronic pain, there were increases in traffic crashes, alcohol abuse and drug overdoses in the state. However, there was no significant increase in overall hospital admissions.

"We need to think carefully...

Many Drug Abusers Use Family Members to 'Opioid Shop'

People who are thwarted in their attempts to "shop around" for prescription opioid painkillers at doctors' offices and pharmacies may try to get the drugs via relatives as a last resort, researchers report.

Some people who misuse opioids go to numerous prescribers and fill prescriptions at multiple pharmacies to avoid detection. But states are cracking down on such "shopping," forcing...

Hepatitis A Infections Soaring: CDC

The number of Americans infected with hepatitis A has grown nearly 300% in just three years, health officials reported Thursday.

The staggering increase has come despite an effective vaccine and is seen mostly among drug abusers and the homeless, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hepatitis A virus can linger in feces and be spread hand-to...

Dispensing Opioid Antidote Without a Prescription Might Save Lives

Opioid overdose deaths would decline dramatically if U.S. pharmacists could dispense the antidote naloxone without a doctor's prescription, a new study says.

In states that have adopted such laws, opioid deaths fell an average of 27% in the year after passage and 34% in following years, according to a RAND Corp. analysis of 2005 to 2016 data.

"This is strong evidence...

Fentanyl Becoming a Deadly Accomplice in Cocaine, Meth Abuse

As if using cocaine or methamphetamines isn't risky enough, new research shows a sharp spike in urine drug tests that are positive for those drugs and the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.

The findings could provide insight into steeply rising rates of cocaine- and methamphetamine-related overdoses in the United States.

For the study, researchers analyzed data on on...

Another Cost of the Opioid Epidemic: Billions of Dollars in Lost Taxes

Opioid abuse-related job losses have cost U.S. federal and state governments tens of billions of dollars in lost tax revenue, a new study claims.

Penn State researchers analyzed data from the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health along with estimates of declines in the U.S. labor force due to the opioid epidemic.

Between 2000 and 2016, federal tax losses due to opioid-...

Many Heroin Users Unprepared for Fentanyl OD

Though they know that nearly all heroin is laced with the dangerous synthetic opioid fentanyl, many Baltimore users aren't prepared to prevent or treat fentanyl-related overdoses, a new study finds.

Baltimore has a thriving heroin trade and 1,000 opioid overdose deaths a year.

The study, by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, included...

Which Misused Prescription Meds Send Americans to the ER?

Most folks treated in a U.S. emergency room for misuse of prescription medications get into trouble because they mix different substances, a new study reports.

Benzodiazepines like Xanax (alprazolam) and Ativan (lorazepam) are most commonly implicated in health crises that lead to an ER visit, followed by prescription opioids, researchers found.

But in most cases, the patien...

U.S. Deaths From Suicide, Substance Abuse Reach Record High

Deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide in the United States hit an all-time high in 2017 -- more than 150,000 in all.

That number was more than double 1999 levels, according to a chilling new analysis of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by the Trust for America's Health and Well Being Trust, two health policy organizations.

Nationwide, the death rate due ...

Among Rich Nations, U.S. Has Highest Rate of Fatal Drug ODs

It's a ranking that no country would want to have: A new study shows America has taken the lead in drug overdose deaths, with rates almost four times higher than in 17 other wealthy nations.

Drug overdose deaths in the United States have more than tripled over the past 20 years, driven largely by the opioid epidemic, the researchers noted.

In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans...

In West Virginia, Few Opioid OD Survivors Get Good Follow-Up Care: Study

Ninety percent of people who survived opioid overdoses in West Virginia did not receive recommended treatment to reduce their risk of overdosing again, according to a new study.

West Virginia has the highest opioid overdose death rate in the United States, four times higher than the national average.

This study included 301 people from the state, average age 34.5 years, who ...

Use of 'Zombie' Drug Rare Among High School Seniors: Study

The synthetic drug alpha-PVP -- or Flakka -- is sometimes called the "zombie" or "cannibal" drug, and about 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors have tried it, according to a new study.

"Flakka is infamous for being tied to rashes of bizarre behavior, which has led the media to refer to it as the 'zombie' or 'cannibal' drug," said the study's lead author, Joseph Palamar. "Flakka ha...

Teens' Odds for Suicide May Triple While in Jail: Study

Young people jailed in adult prisons, often while awaiting trial or sentencing, are at high risk for suicide, and the prison system is doing little to stop it, a new study warns.

Suicide accounts for roughly 1 death in 5 among American children and young adults. But suicide rates for young people behind bars were two to three times that rate between 2000 and 2014, researchers reported...

Big Pharma's Marketing to Docs Helped Trigger Opioid Crisis: Study

Aggressive direct marketing to doctors by pharmaceutical companies is tied to spurring the ongoing epidemic of opioid abuse in the United States, a new study claims.

A county-by-county analysis showed that opioid use increased in places where drug makers focused their marketing efforts, explained lead researcher Dr. Scott Hadland. He's a pediatrician and addiction researcher at Boston...

Postpartum Opioid Rx May Lead to Persistent Use: Study

New mothers who take opioid painkillers after either vaginal birth or cesarean section may be at increased risk of becoming persistent users, a new study finds.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University in Nashville examined data from more than 102,000 new mothers in Tennessee. None had used opioids in the 180 days before delivery.

After delivery, 89 percent who had a cesarean ...

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