heroin

President Trump has convened a panel to address America's opioid epidemic. Its first mission should be to find convincing data to identify the actual cause(s) of the problem. That will be much harder than it sounds, since ideologues are always in plentiful supply.

Indeed, many influential people already seem to have a strong opinion about who is to blame. Claire McCaskill, a Senator from Missouri, points her finger at pharmaceutical companies. She is launching an investigation, but there is little need for one, given that she has already told us what its conclusions are ahead of time: 

...

There are many good reasons not to take drugs. Other than addiction and the possibility of overdose, the next best reason is that, Walter White notwithstanding, neighborhood chemists aren't terribly trustworthy. It is common for drugs to be mixed with other chemicals, some of which are far more dangerous than the drug itself. 

The heroin epidemic sweeping the nation -- which has quadrupled heroin overdose deaths among people aged 25 to 34 and contributed to an increase in the overall mortality rate of young, white Americans -- serves as...

The overdose epidemic sweeping the nation is hitting some demographics harder than others. New data released by the CDC breaks down heroin overdose deaths by age.

As shown below, heroin overdose deaths began to skyrocket in 2010. Of all groups, older Millennials (i.e., individuals aged 25-34) are the likeliest to die from a heroin overdose. In 2015, the mortality rate from a heroin overdose was 9.7 per 100,000 for this group, which is more than quadruple the rate in 2010 (which was 2.2 per 100,000). 

 

This is a very shocking development. The overall mortality rate for Americans aged 25-34 is 108.4 per 100,000. That means more than one out of...

Opioids via Shutterstock Opioids via Shutterstock

Our compassion for someone else’s pain has landed us in the hot seat. We find ourselves with 2.1 million Americans with some form of opiate-related substance use disorder as of 2012, as well as 467,000 heroin addicts. This compassion has created a monster that has contributed to the quadrupling of unintentional overdose deaths since 1999. Non-medical use of opioid pain...

BBIn 1985, a scientist in Delaware decided to make drugs with the goal of getting rich.

We didn't know it at the time but DuPont organic chemist Michael Hovey had ushered in the modern era of so-called "designer drugs" by cooking up a batch of 3-methylfentanyl in his lab. The batch had a street value of $112 million.

His choice was not arbitrary. It would be hard to pick a drug that gives you a better bang for your buck than 3-Methylfentanyl which, as you can tell by the name, is closely related to fentanyl, a synthetic heroin that is a legal but highly regulated narcotic...

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.25.47 PMAccording to the CDC, there has been a sharp increase in the number of hepatitis B cases in three Appalachian states since 2006, and especially after 2010. The agency seems puzzled, but it shouldn't be. It all makes perfect sense. Why...

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 1.15.58 PM
Courtesy of PNAS

A surprising and disconcerting new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) reveals a...

imagesIn a recent Forbes blog post, Dr. Sally Satel, psychiatrist and addiction specialist, and professor of medicine Brad Rodu asked this question: Why do public health care advocates seem to care more about heroin addicts than smokers?

They have a point. There is a seemingly incomprehensible disconnect between "official" public...

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 3.50.58 PM

The practice of treating heroin addicts with methadone is hardly new indeed it s been common practice among addiction specialists for almost fifty years now. It is not a perfect solution, but it works pretty well. And the alternative is far worse.

Although years ago, the use of methadone was primarily intended to treat people who were addicted to heroin, the drug...

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 3.33.37 PMIt is hardly news that the US is plagued by an enormous narcotic addiction problem. Nor is it news that the so-called war on drugs has been an abysmal failure since its inception.

Thanks to new technology, there is, at least, a reasonable method that could minimize opioid (aka opiate) abuse arguably the most serious problem at this time. (Methamphetamine, aka meth abuse is probably comparable.)

However, with drug abuse, nothing is simple. And nothing demonstrates this better than the OxyContin story. The drug a high dose, slow release formulation of oxycodone (the...