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NIDA Notes Articles: Opioids

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Although Relatively Few, “Doctor Shoppers” Skew Opioid Prescribing

May 2014
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.

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As Opioid Use Disorders Increased, Prescriptions for Treatment Did Not Keep Pace

July 2018
Several effective medications are now available for treating opioid use disorder but many patients who could benefit do not receive them. Some patients who receive the medications face challenges to staying in treatment.

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Buprenorphine Benefits Waitlisted Seekers of Opioid Treatment

March 2017
In two pilot clinical trials, buprenorphine helped participants reduce their illicit opioid use and injection drug use while awaiting admission to a methadone or buprenorphine treatment program. Researchers minimized the risks for improper use or diversion of the study medication by giving it to trial participants in a computerized, tamper-proof device that dispenses one dose each day.

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Deep Brain Stimulation Attenuates Rats’ Responses to Heroin

October 2017
High-frequency electrical stimulation of neurons deep in the brain can reduce rats’ relapse-like behavior and motivation to take heroin. The finding strengthens hope that deep brain stimulation might offer a new treatment alternative for opioid addiction, particularly for patients who have not benefited from other treatments.

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Digital Addiction Therapies Affirm Promise in Replication and Large Trial

November 2015
Two computerized programs improved outcomes when they were used to supplement or partially replace in-person behavioral therapy for drug addiction in recent NIDA-sponsored trials.

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Dual Regimen Aims To Shorten Medication-Assisted Therapy

May 2016
Treatment that combines use of Bp/Nx and memantine may enable young adults addicted to opioids establish lasting abstinence after a relatively brief course of medication-assisted therapy, a pilot trial suggests.

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ED-Initiated Buprenorphine Outperforms Referral or SBIRT for ED Patients With Opioid Addiction

January 2016
Emergency department visits present prime opportunities to identify people with opioid addiction and provide them with onsite initiation of treatment with buprenorphine/naloxone.

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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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Fear of Distress Signals Risk for Opioid Misuse in Chronic Pain Patients

April 2018
Among patients with chronic pain, those who reported less ability to tolerate physical or emotional distress were more likely to misuse opioid analgesics.

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Gene Variants Reduce Opioid Risks

June 2014
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.

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