Opioid Abuse Risks May Increase After Common Surgical Procedures for Many Patients

Opioid abuse risk after surgeryOpioid abuse is on the rise across North America, and recent research shows that common surgical procedures include a standard practice of opioid prescribing. First time opioid exposure after one of these procedures could make some patients more vulnerable to opioid abuse in the future. The suggestion from researchers is that opioid use needs to be monitored more closely for a period of up to a year after many of these common surgical procedures. Early detection can increase the odds of a full recovery, but abuse of these drugs may not be detected right away. Monitoring could prevent the abuse from continuing and provide early treatment resources to patients who end up abusing opioid drugs.

According to the conclusions reached by the researchers who performed the study on common surgical procedures and opioid abuse “Our results have several clinical implications. First, while we found that surgical patients are at an increased risk for chronic opioid use, the overall risk for chronic opioid use remains low among these patients, at less than 0.5 percent for most of the procedures that we examined. Thus, our results should not be taken as advocating that patients forgo surgery out of concerns for chronic opioid use. Rather, our results suggest that primary care clinicians and surgeons should monitor opioid use closely in the postsurgical period.” Some of the common surgeries that were associated with a higher risk for opioid abuse included simple mastectomy, traditional gall bladder surgery, total knee replacements, and total hip replacements.

College Freshmen With PTSD Should Avoid Alcohol Use During Recovery

college freshmen with PTSD should avoid alcoholPTSD symptoms can vary widely for college freshmen who have been diagnosed with this mental health condition after experiencing previous trauma, and University at Buffalo researchers have determined that alcohol use can slow the recovery from PTSD for many students. Young adults who have post traumatic stress disorder start out with a higher risk for problem drinking and other forms of substance abuse, and these behaviors can make any PTSD symptoms worse and set back any recovery that the student has made to this point. University at Buffalo Department of Psychology professor Jennifer Read was one of the authors who published a paper on this research in the Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, and Policy journal.

According to Read “You have a group of young people exposed to some trauma who are away from many of the things that would otherwise provide them with support. Even those who are commuting have still entered into a new way of life.” This can make the PTSD and alcohol use combination even more dangerous. Read also explained that “This is relevant to college administrators for a few different reasons, One is to know that there is a class of students whose symptoms are getting worse or staying bad. While students are first transitioning the symptoms are the most malleable. So early detection and intervention are important. If these people can be identified, then outreach could be provided. It’s encouraging that people with PTSD symptoms are getting better on their own. Resilience is common in human behavior. People can have bad things happen to them, but will most likely be okay. It doesn’t mean they won’t affected, or that they won’t be changed in some way, but they will probably be okay. Drinking affects this. If someone is drinking regularly or excessively, the likelihood is less that they’ll move from a high category to a lower category.”

What is Marijuana Use Disorder? Is This an Addiction?

marijuana addictionA recent study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health shows that around 6 million adults in America have experienced marijuana use disorder in the last year alone. What is this though? Is it an addiction to marijuana? Marijuana use disorder is a classified disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), and this latest version of the manual combines both marijuana abuse and marijuana dependence into a single classification. The disorder can be rated as being mild, moderate, or even severe. The rating is dependent on the number and severity of the symptoms associated with marijuana abuse and dependence. The DSM-5 lays out 11 symptoms that may be experienced with marijuana use disorder, and an individual must meet at least 2 of the 11 identified symptoms in order to be diagnosed with this condition.

Researchers looked at marijuana use disorder using the criteria and determined that marijuana use is on the rise. When marijuana use and addiction progressed the researchers also found that the frequency of drug use and the associated levels of disability also increased. With more states legalizing medical and even recreational marijuana use some scientists and researchers caution that this could increase the number of marijuana use disorder cases that are seen. According to CUMC Department of Psychiatry professor of epidemiology and lead study author Deborah Hasin, PhD, “An increasing number of American adults do not perceive marijuana use as harmful. While some can use marijuana without harms, other users do experience negative consequences, which can include mental and physical problems, and impaired functioning. This paper helps provide information on some of those risks.”

What is Opioid Use Disorder and How Common is This Form of Substance Abuse?

Opioid Use DisorderOpioid use disorder is a form of substance abuse that involves opioid drugs and medications. This is a pattern of problematic opioid use that leads to distress or impairment, making it impossible for the user to perform daily tasks or function normally. Between 2012 and 2013 the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that around 10 million adults in the United States misused prescription opioid medications. This does not take into account individuals who used heroin, which is also an opioid but which is never legally prescribed because of the addiction risks and other problems associated with this specific drug. Someone who is under continuous medical supervision and who only uses the opioid drugs as needed and prescribed can build up a tolerance and even have withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped but these individuals do not have opioid use disorder.

Some signs that opioid use disorder is a problem can include some symptoms of other forms of substance abuse. Some things to watch for include:

  • Taking legally prescribed opioid drugs in larger amounts, for longer than intended, or more often than prescribed.
  • Efforts to cut down on opioid use are unsuccessful.
  • A considerable amount of time, effort, or money is spent trying to find and get the drugs.
  • Cravings for the opioid drugs.
  • Failing to fulfill responsibilities at work, home, or school because of the substance abuse.
  • Lost interest in friends, social activities, hobbies, and recreation so that the drug can be used.

Study Shows Over 400 Medical Conditions and Diseases that can be Associated with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)Center for Addiction and Mental Health researchers performed a Canadian study that shows 428 different medical conditions and diseases that can be co-occurring in individuals who have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. The study results were recently published in the medical journal The Lancet. Lead study paper author Dr. Lana Popova explained “We’ve systematically identified numerous disease conditions co-occurring with FASD, which underscores the fact that it isn’t safe to drink any amount or type of alcohol at any stage of pregnancy, despite the conflicting messages the public may hear.

Alcohol can affect any organ or system in the developing fetus.” FASD symptoms and severity depend on the amount of alcohol consumed, when the drug was used during pregnancy, and many other various factors that can include maternal stress and nutrition, genetic factors, and even environmental influences during pregnancy.

Problems range from digestive disorders to hearing loss

While most issues connected to FASD involved cognitive and behavioral disorders, other neurological issues and even digestive, heart, musculoskeletal and respiratory systems can be adversely affected.  Notable were the facts that vision could be affected and hearing loss was over 100 times more likely to co-occur with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

The study on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and associated medical conditions and diseases involved data from 127 different studies previously performed on this subject. According to Dr. Popova “We can prevent these issues at many stages. Eliminating alcohol consumption during pregnancy or reducing it among alcohol-dependent women is extremely important. Newborns should be screened for prenatal alcohol exposure, especially among populations at high risk. And alerting clinicians to these co-occurring conditions should trigger questions about prenatal alcohol exposure. It is important that the public receive a consistent and clear message — if you want to have a healthy child, stay away from alcohol when you’re planning a pregnancy and throughout your whole pregnancy.”

Here is a link to a PDF of the Lancet publication.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are not the only risks of drinking during pregnancy

The take away from this study adds to the conclusions of others studies that show just how sensitive the fetus is to even small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy.