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Researchers identify similarities between HIV/AIDS and opioid addiction epidemics
Date:4/1/2014

addiction victims are young, previously healthy and already stigmatized. Effective care is compromised by a public perception that only certain groups become addicts. The death toll of the two epidemics is comparable, but the response to opioid addiction is not yet as effective: every 19 minutes another American dies from an unintentional overdose.

Affecting 40 million Americans, or 15.9 percent of the population, addiction to drugs, alcohol and tobacco has a greater public impact than heart conditions, diabetes or cancer. Opioid use disorders are the fastest-growing type of drug problem. According to researchers, much of the current exposure to opioids is linked to the explosion of widely available, potent prescription painkillers that have an identical effect in the brain as heroin. Although many benefit from substantial pain relief and improved quality of life, prescription opioids now kill more people than heroin and cocaine combined. Researchers note that while prevalent, addiction has been marginalized as a social problem setting it apart from other diseases, with barriers to treatment ranging from stringent criteria for entry to limited availability of treatment.

Green participated in a Rhode Island community forum on drug overdose in February that drew hundreds to The Miriam Hospital. Speakers and participants spanned health officials, law enforcement, the medical community, addiction treatment providers and parents who've lost children to overdose. Rich and others are spearheading a R.I. "collaborative practice agreement" that allows anyone to walk into a Walgreens in R.I. and obtain naloxone (or Narcan) a drug that quickly reverses an opioid overdose, along with training on how to use it.

Researchers described the need for a comprehensive prevention, diagnosis and treatment campaign to fight overdose, along with standard-of-care treatment models based on existing evidence. They propose more education for the medical community
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Contact: Elena Falcone-Relvas
efalconerelvas@lifespan.org
401-793-7484
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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