January 11, 2016

Rate of Alcohol-Induced Deaths Increased 37 Percent Since 2002

The rate of alcohol-induced deaths has increased 37 percent since 2002, reaching 30,700 U.S. deaths in 2014, The Washington Post reports.

The alcohol death rate is the highest in 35 years, the newspaper notes. Alcohol-induced deaths included those from alcohol poisoning and cirrhosis. There were 9.6 deaths from alcohol-induced causes per 100,000 people in 2014.

These deaths do not include those from drunk driving, other accidents and homicides committed under the influence of alcohol. If those deaths were included, the yearly toll of deaths directly or indirectly caused by alcohol would reach almost 90,000 according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2014, more people died from alcohol-induced causes than from overdoses of prescription painkillers and heroin combined (28,647), the article notes.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found the number of American adults who drink at least monthly increased from 54.9 percent in 2002 to 56.9 percent in 2014. The increase was greatest in women. The percentage of woman who said they drink monthly or more increased from 47.9 percent in 2002 to 51.9 percent in 2014. The rate of women who reported binge drinking (having five or more drinks on at least one occasion) rose from 15.7 percent to 17.4 percent during the same period.

January 5, 2016

More Than 47,000 Americans Died of Drug Overdoses in 2014, Setting Record

More than 47,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2014, setting a new record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drug overdoses increased 6.5 percent from 2013.

The states with the highest overdose death rates were West Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Ohio, Reuters reports. Deaths from opioids, including painkillers and heroin, accounted for 61 percent of overdose deaths in 2014. Opioid deaths increased 14 percent from the previous year. Deaths involving illicitly made fentanyl, a potent opioid often added to or sold as heroin, also are increasing, the CDC noted.

“The increasing number of deaths from opioid overdose is alarming,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement. “The opioid epidemic is devastating American families and communities.”

The increased availability of heroin, its relatively low price compared to prescription opioids, and high purity appear to be factors in the increase in heroin use, overdoses, and deaths, the CDC said.

Overall, drug overdose deaths have increased 137 percent since 2000. Opioid overdose deaths rose 200 percent during that period. The CDC noted almost half a million people in the United States have died from drug overdoses since 2000.

The most commonly prescribed opioid pain relievers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, continue to be involved in more overdose deaths than any other opioid type, the CDC said. These deaths rose by 9 percent.

The CDC recommended steps to prevent overdose deaths. These include providing health care professionals with safer guidelines for prescribing opioids; expanding access to evidence-based substance use disorder treatment, including medication-assisted treatment; expanding access and use of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone; and improving communication between state and local public health agencies, medical examiners and coroners, and law enforcement agencies to detect and respond to illicit opioid overdose outbreaks.

December 21, 2015

Prescription Drug Abuse in the Illinois Workplace

Prescription drug misuse could be slipping through the cracks at Illinois workplaces, this article warns. No study has assessed whether the state has a prescription drug problem in the workplace, and state law does not require employers to conduct drug tests. The Illinois Work Injury Resource Center tests thousands of employers throughout central Illinois for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, PCP, and opiates. Employers can upgrade the test to include six additional prescription medications. It can still be difficult to identify those who misuse drugs because opiates can clear an employee’s system in about a week. Also, many opiates sometimes go untested because employers are unaware of advanced testing options.

Read more:

December 7, 2015

Smoking Most Prevalent Mode of Lifetime Marijuana Use Among Adults; 30% Report Consuming in Edibles and 10% Report Vaporizing

Slightly more than one-third (35%) of adults reported ever using marijuana in 2014, according to data from a nationally representative consumer panel survey. Among those adults, smoking was reported as the most prevalent mode of marijuana use. A majority of users reported smoking joints (89%), around one-half reported using bongs, waterpipes, or hookahs (49%) or bowls or pipes (48%), and one-fourth (25%) smoked marijuana in blunts. Other modes of marijuana use included ingesting marijuana in edibles or drinks (30%) and vaporizing marijuana (10%). While more than one-third (36%) reported using only one mode of marijuana use, the use of 3 or more modes was more common (44%) (data not shown).

Percentage of U.S. Adult Marijuana Users Reporting That They Have Ever
Used Marijuana in Any of the Following Ways, 2014

The authors conclude that “[c]hanging state policies related to marijuana use may lead to changes in the mode of use or reason for use, which could impact individual- and population-level health. Ongoing and improved surveillance systems that collect more-detailed information about patterns of marijuana use, including mode of and reasons for use, are important for enhancing understanding of the health consequences of marijuana use and public health planning”