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Wave of Opioid Overdoses Expected to Hit U.S. Rural, Urban Areas

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By Cara Murez HealthDay ReporterHealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 29, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Experts predict opioid overdoses will climb in both rural and urban areas because of the lethal practice of mixing the highly addictive narcotics with other drugs.

The coming wave of opioid overdoses “will be worse than ever seen before,” said researchers from Northwestern Medicine in Chicago who studied trends and used a predictive model to determine where deaths would escalate.

“I’m sounding the alarm because, for the first time, there is a convergence and escalation of acceleration rates for every type of rural and urban county,” said corresponding author Lori Post. She is director of the Buehler Center for Health Policy and Economics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“Not only is the death rate from an opioid at an all-time high, but the acceleration of that death rate signals explosive exponential growth that is even larger than an already historic high,” Post said in a Northwestern news release.

For the study, the researchers used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WONDER database for 3,147 counties and areas equivalent to counties to study geographic trends in opioid deaths between 1999 and 2020.

The team was trying to determine if geography was involved in the past waves and to theorize about any coming wave.

The study found that opioid overdose deaths in 2020 were escalating faster in rural areas than in cities. Between 2019 and 2020, rates of overdose deaths escalated for the first time in six types of rural and urban counties, Post said.

“We have the highest escalation rate for the first time in America, and this fourth wave will be worse than it’s ever been before,” Post explained. “It’s going to mean mass death.”

The research team examined toxicology reports and found that people are using fentanyl (a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine) and carfentanil (a synthetic opioid approximately 100 times more potent than fentanyl) in combination with methamphetamines and cocaine.

This lethal cocktail can make it harder to save someone experiencing an overdose with an overdose-reversing drug like naloxone.

“The stronger the drugs, the harder it is to revive a person,” explained study co-author Alexander Lundberg, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Feinberg. “The polysubstance use complicates an already dire situation.”

Post said, “It appears that those who have died from opioid overdoses had been playing pharmacist and trying to manage their own dosing. This is a bigger problem because you have people misusing cocaine and methamphetamines along with an opioid, so you have to treat two things at once, and the fentanyl is horribly volatile.”

The study authors said solutions might include methadone centers, which offer medication-assisted anti-addiction treatments. These are more common in urban areas. Rural areas have no medication-assisted treatment options, Post said, adding that what works in large cities is likely not as useful for rural areas.

“Nobody wants to be a drug addict. It doesn’t matter if you’re taking Percocet because you broke your back while mining or if you’re a high schooler who died because they got into grandma’s medicine cabinet. We need to look at opioid addiction and overdose prevention immediately,” Post said.

“The only path forward is to increase awareness to prevent opioid use disorders and to provide medication-assisted treatment that is culturally appropriate and non-stigmatizing in rural communities,” she added.

The findings were published online July 28 in JAMA Network Open .

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more on the opioid epidemic.

SOURCE: Northwestern Medicine, news release, July 28, 2022

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Source: webmd.com

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Congress Under Pressure: Colorado Officials Push for Cannabis Banking Reform

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With the end of Congress’ session just around the corner, marijuana advocates, stakeholders and lawmakers continue to push for marijuana banking policy change.

This time, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) joined forces with Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera (D), Attorney General Phil Weiser (D), Treasurer Dave Young (D) and Department of Public Safety (DPS) Executive Director Stan Hilkey in urging congressional leaders to revisit the issue, reported Marijuana Moment.

In a letter sent on Monday to both House and Senate leaders, Colorado officials focused on the impact which a bipartisan marijuana banking bill will have in terms of public safety and industry equity,

“The lack of safe banking and financial services for the cannabis industry in the State of Colorado has become a dire public safety issue for highly regulated cannabis businesses operating in compliance with state …

Full story available on Benzinga.com

Original Post: benzinga.com

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New Data Shows Weed Legalization a Boon for Real Estate, New Jobs and Tax Revenue

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A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank shed light on the economic impact marijuana legalization has had in recent years, reported Marijuana Moment. Policy changes on the state level have resulted in increased commercial real estate demand, as well as a surge in tax revenues while creating more jobs.

According to an analysis from the Kansas City arm of the Central Bank, which collected data from several states under its jurisdiction, the Tenth Federal Reserve District, the cannabis industry has become one of the main economic sectors positioned to grow substantially in the coming period.

“Overall, the marijuana industry has had a significant effect on the economies of Tenth District states in the initial years after legalization,” the report said. “The emergence of the industry has …

Full story available on Benzinga.com

Article: benzinga.com

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Will Missouri Legalize Cannabis? Amendment 3 Suffers Another Attack This Time by State NAACP

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Cannabis legalization efforts in Missouri are under attack once again, this time by The Missouri State Conference of the NAACP.

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The Missouri NAACP, breaking with chapters in the St. Louis area is urging its members to vote against Amendment 3 on the Nov. 8 ballot, reported the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.

The group announced Thursday that it believes recreational marijuana legalization, as it is proposed under Amendment 3, would prevent minorities from entering the cannabis industry. 

“Marijuana possession should not be a constitutional crime. Additionally, for years now, Black people, other minorities, and people who have been criminalized by marijuana laws in the past have been unable to enter the medical marijuana market,” the Missouri NAACP wrote. “That is not right. In an effort to prevent the permanent exclusion of minorities from the cannabis industry in the state of Missouri, the NAACP calls upon every voter to reject the criminalization of marijuana possession, de facto racist regulation of the cannabis market, and the wool being pulled over our eyes by the supporters of Amendment 3.”

Under Amendment 3, the first “comprehensive” cannabis business licenses would be provided to existing medical marijuana companies. 

The state’s chapter highlighted that the amendment “does not increase the number of available full market licenses” and claims that giving “micro” business licenses to disadvantaged groups makes a “very limited” program. 

According to Nimrod “Rod” Chapel Jr., president of the Missouri NAACP, members agreed last week …

Full story available on Benzinga.com

Source: benzinga.com

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