Welcome to This Week in Recovery, a weekly recap of the 5 biggest stories and developments in the recovery industry.
Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, this 12-year study found that taking prescribed opioids raises the risk of pneumonia. Researchers believe taking even prescribed amounts of opioids could compromise the immune system. Additionally, individuals with HIV tended were also more likely to develop pneumonia.’We saw that prescription opioids were independently associated with pneumonia requiring hospitalization,’ said E. Jennifer Edelman, M.D., associate professor at Yale School of Medicine.
Puerto Rico reported more than 600 fentanyl-related overdoses and 60 deaths in 2017, largely before Hurricane Maria hit. This was a spike compared to 200 overdoses and eight deaths from the previous year. The U.S. DEA and local nonprofits say that the official data is skewed and doesn’t reflect the real situation because the government is not keeping proper count of overdoses and deaths. I am extremely worried, because this represents an epidemic that has not been acknowledged,’ said Puerto Rico territorial Sen. Jose Vargas Vidot.
California is gearing up to expand a new program across the state, equipping emergency rooms to help treat individuals struggling with addiction. This program includes supplying more naloxone, expanding the ability to prescribe and administer buprenorphine, and increasing referrals for certified treatment resources for addiction. Instead of relying on expensive and time consuming options for rehab, people with addiction can go to their local hospital and use insurance like they would for any other illness or malady.
Researchers at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine are joining forces to develop an app called Second Chance, which they claim has the potential to save thousands of lives. The app, funded by the UW Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute and National Science Foundation, converts a smartphone into a short-range active sonar to identify respiratory depression, apnea, and other issues associated with opioid toxicity. If the app detects decreased or absent breathing, the app will ask the user to interact with it, if the person fails to do so emergency services or a trusted loved one are contacted.
A study, done by the American Journal of Addictions, found that tobacco users were more likely to receive prescriptions for opioids, muscle relaxants, and/or benzodiazepines than people who do not use tobacco. The journal recommends that healthcare professionals limit their co-prescriptions of drugs and provide a comprehensive approach to pain management.
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In response to the growing opioid epidemic, the US Government has created legislation that funnels money through multiple grant programs for treatment and prevention. Some of the things the funding can cover are investing in alternative pain management, offering more naloxone, and enhancing PDMP’s.