Neuroscience and Society: The Opioid Epidemic

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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/opioids/index.html

“We’ve moved from an epidemic to a crisis” in opioid abuse in the United States, said Daniel Ciccarone, M.D., MPH, during a panel discussion at AAAS in Washington, DC, this week. Ciccarone, a doctor at University of California, San Francisco, who treats addicted people and does research, described a pattern of intertwined waves involving abuse of prescription pills, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

For example, while overdose deaths due to prescription pill use are spread relatively evenly across the country, “this is not true for heroin,” Ciccarone said. The Northeast has had troubles with opioid abuse for a generation, while in the Midwest, numbers have jumped just recently. And while older folks (50-64) are using pills in greater numbers, it’s younger people (20-35) driving heroin use.

“Heroin itself is becoming more and more dangerous,” he said, especially when it is laced with synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil (used to tranquilize elephants). People who stop breathing after using these stronger concoctions often don’t respond to emergency treatments like naloxone.

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Dana News E-Blast: October

Here are some stories recently posted on www.dana.org:

The Binge and the Brain

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by Alice V. Ely, Ph.D., and Anne Cusack, Psy.D.

Who hasn’t dipped into that pint of Häagen-Dazs and finished the entire container? Out-of-control impulse consumption is at the heart of binge-eating disorder (BED), a newly recognized mental condition that we are just beginning to better understand–from both a neurobiological and clinical standpoint. From Cerebrum, our online magazine of ideas.

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