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

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Expanded HIV Screening Projected To Decrease Spread of the Virus

April 2014
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.

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Microneedle Milestone: One Week of Transdermal Drug Delivery

March 2014
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.

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Dr. Evan D. Kharasch Joins the Institute of Medicine

December 2013
Dr. Kharasch is a NIDA-funded researcher known for a broad range of research into how drugs are metabolized in the body.

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Medications That Treat Opioid Addiction Do Not Impair Liver Health

December 2013
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.

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Naltrexone Implant Outperforms Daily Pill in Russian Trial

November 2013
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.

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Dr. Marilyn Huestis Q & A: Matching Drug Effects to Drug Concentrations

September 2013
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.

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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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