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NIDA Notes Articles: Heroin, Opioids, Pain Medication and Prescription Drugs

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Problem Behaviors Can Signal Risk in Prescribing Opioids to Teens

July 2013
Researchers found that 1 in 8 high school seniors had used a prescription opioid nonmedically, and 70 percent of these teens had compounded the attendant risk by co-ingesting an opioid with one or more other drugs. Nonmedical opioid use was significantly more prevalent among whites than among African Americans or Hispanics.

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Oxycodone Vaccine Passes Early Tests

May 2013
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.

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Thoughts of Suicide May Persist Among Nonmedical Prescription Opiate Users

March 2013
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.

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Adolescent Cigarette, Alcohol Use Declines as Marijuana Use Rises

February 2013
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.

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Q&A: Dr. David Thomas

November 2012
NIDA Program Officer Dr. David Thomas speaks about the intertwined problems of pain and prescription opioid abuse, as well as the research supported by NIDA and the National Institutes of Health to address these problems.

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Animal Research Advances Effort to Develop Vaccines Against Cocaine, Heroin Abuse

September 2012
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.

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Potential Pain Medication Targets Peripheral Nerves

September 2012
Researchers report a significant advance in the search for medications that can suppress pain but avoid opioids’ abuse potential and other undesirable CNS effects. A new compound reduces mouse responses in animal models of neurogenic and chronic inflammatory (e.g., arthritic) pain. The compound, called UB937, enhances the natural pain-killing activity of the neurotransmitter anandamide, and exerts its analgesic effects entirely in peripheral tissues, without entering the brain.

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Few Teens With Prescription Opioid Use Disorders Receive Treatment

July 2012
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.

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More Convenient Preparations of Buprenorphine Pass Test

July 2012
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.

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Buprenorphine During Pregnancy Reduces Neonate Distress

July 2012
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.

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