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Treatment Research

National RX Drug Abuse Summit

Abuse of prescription opioids, stimulants, and other psychotherapeutic medications presents unique challenges. On the one hand, these drugs can produce serious harm (even death) when not taken as prescribed; on the other, they are powerful clinical allies that can be life saving.  Thus, the approach we take and the messages we convey to minimize harm need to be nuanced and multipronged.

Expanded HIV Screening Projected To Decrease Spread of the Virus

Intensified screening for HIV among injection drug users receiving opioid agonist therapy could prevent more than twice as many new infections as current screening practice. A recent study based on mathematical modeling found that screening every 6 months instead of annually, and adding viral RNA testing to the currently used HIV antibody testing, could improve both effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.

UNODC Recommends Treating Addiction as Health, Not Legal, Issue

Earlier this month I went to Vienna for the 57th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), part of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). There I chaired a working group that presented a set of recommendations to the CND concerning the most appropriate, scientifically informed way to approach the problem of substance use disorders: as a medical, not a legal, issue.

Study: Treat Jail Detainees’ Drug Abuse To Lower HIV Transmission

Active drug use before incarceration was associated with decreased engagement in HIV treatment among HIV-infected jail detainees. The severity of drug dependence correlated with worsening measures of engagement in HIV treatment. The study concludes that evidence-based treatment for drug abuse in jails may result in improved HIV treatment outcomes, which in turn could help slow HIV-transmission rates in the United States.

Microneedle Milestone: One Week of Transdermal Drug Delivery

Microneedles are an innovative technique for delivering medications through the skin, a route that could particularly benefit patients receiving naltrexone therapy for opioid and alcohol dependence. Researchers have found a way to use the transdermal technique to deliver a single treatment of naltrexone that lasts for 7 days.

California Reaped Large Savings by Diverting Drug-Using Offenders Into Treatment

California’s Proposition 36, which allows qualified drug offenders to enter substance use treatment rather than go to jail or prison, saved the state close to $100 million in its first year.

HIV Infection Accelerates Hepatitis C–Related Liver Fibrosis

Study patients with HIV­­–hepatitis C coinfection progressed to successive degrees of severity of liver fibrosis 9 years sooner than those infected with HCV alone. Further findings from the study suggest that suppressing HIV with antiretroviral medications may slow HCV-related liver fibrosis.

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