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Two recent studies suggest that genotyping may enable clinicians to base therapies on individual patients’ potential responsiveness to opioid drugs’ therapeutic effects and vulnerability to their harmful effects.
One out of every 143 U.S. patients who received a prescription for an opioid painkiller in 2008 obtained prescriptions from multiple physicians in a pattern that suggests misuse or abuse of the drugs.
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.
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.
Dr. Kharasch is a NIDA-funded researcher known for a broad range of research into how drugs are metabolized in the body.
A trial of buprenorphine/naloxone (Bup/Nx) showed no evidence that the medicine was associated with liver damage. The drug gave results similar to those of methadone. The study data indicate that although most patients can be treated safely with either methadone or Bup/Nx without major concern for liver injury, clinicians are advised to continue to monitor the liver health of their patients who are on methadone or Bup/Nx therapy.
More than half of heroin-addicted patients treated with naltrexone via an implanted delivery device maintained abstinence throughout a 6-month clinical trial in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The implant device, which releases a steady dose of naltrexone continuously for 2 months, averted relapse to heroin use three times as effectively as daily oral doses of the medication.
Dr. Marilyn Huestis of NIDA’s Intramural Research Program talks about conducting research on drug effects with human subjects, developing tests to help law enforcement identify drugged drivers, and an assay to help identify children whose prenatal exposure to anti-HIV drugs may put them at risk for adverse developmental outcomes.
A new vaccine hindered the often-abused prescription opioids oxycodone and hydrocodone from entering the brain and suppressed one of the drugs’ signature central nervous system effects. The findings warrant continued development of the vaccine as a potential aid in the treatment of oxycodone and hydrocodone abuse and dependence.
People who use prescription opiates nonmedically are more likely to consider suicide than those who use these medications only appropriately or not at all. A recent NIDA-supported study also disclosed that the risk for suicidal thoughts remains elevated after cessation of use.
Fewer teens are using cigarettes, alcohol, and most illicit drugs, according to NIDA’s latest Monitoring the Future study. Troubling trends persist in marijuana use, however, and nonmedical prescription drug use remains a concern.
New vaccines that aim to promote recovery from cocaine and heroin abuse showed promise in animal testing. Both vaccines induced rats’ immune system to produce high titers of antibodies that inhibit the target drug from reaching the brain. The rats’ behaviors when given access to the target drug indicated that the vaccines reduced the reinforcing effects that, in recovering people, can cause lapses to turn into relapses.
Fewer than 12 percent of adolescents who meet diagnostic criteria for prescription opioid abuse or dependence receive any treatment, according to an analysis of data from the 2005 to 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The most common reason the adolescents gave for not receiving treatment was their lack of perceived need for it.
Soluble-film preparations of buprenorphine suppressed heroin abusers’ withdrawal symptoms with no serious side effects in a recent clinical trial. They dissolved more rapidly in the mouth than the pill form of the medication, providing faster relief.
Sublingual buprenorphine is a safe and effective alternative to methadone for treating opioid dependence during pregnancy, finds the Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental Research (MOTHER) study, a NIDA-supported clinical trial. Women who received either medication had similar pregnancy and birth outcomes, but infants born to women who received buprenorphine had milder symptoms of neonatal opioid withdrawal.
Describes results from a nationwide survey among correctional facilities on the use of opioid replacement therapy for people who are addicted to heroin.
Describes a study that examined the effectiveness of combining two therapies for drug abuse addiction: methadone treatment and therapeutic communities, two approaches that are rarely combined.
Reports findings from a survey that revealed that although substance abuse is prevalent in jails and prisons, many correctional facilities do not offer detoxification services or therapies to aid in maintaining abstinence.
Describes findings of a study revealing that images of heroin preparation and injection can incite craving and excite brain areas associated with reward-seeking even in methadone-maintained patients.
Reports on a new device that creates tiny painless punctures in the skin to allow medication to flow evenly from a skin patch into dermal capillaries and the bloodstream.
Describes research on the effectiveness of a buprenorphine patch to alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms of newly abstinent heroin abusers.
Describes clinical trial results providing evidence that methadone maintenance to men in prison can pay off in better retention in community treatment and reduced drug abuse following their release.
Highlights a computerized intervention that reduced new mothers' drug abuse in the first 4 months postpartum as reported in a clinical trial of 107 women who abused drugs.
Highlights results from a pilot study suggesting that lofexidine, an anti-hypertensive medication, can enhance success rates among patients taking maintenance naltrexone to avoid opioid relapse.
Reports on an animal study showing that methadone, normally used as a therapy for opioid abuse, may prove to be an effective treatment for cocaine abuse.
Describes research to develop new compounds that match or exceed the pain relief provided by opioids while avoiding their shortcomings.
Reports on scientists who pinpointed the biochemical trigger from morphine that sets off a chain reaction that inhibits an immune cell that is key in fighting viruses and cancer.
Reviews the changing lifespan of heroin abusers as compared with that of the general U.S. population based on 1962-1997 data.
Describes the work of researchers who have found a statistical link between one region on chromosome 17 and an increased risk of opioid dependence.
Reports on research showing that the neurons that deliver dopamine to two regions of the brain's mesolimbic reward system respond differently to opioids, an important finding for drug treatment research.
Summarizes a study on the use of incentives to encourage abstinence among methadone maintenance patients in outpatient programs.