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Is public discourse on drug overdoses improving?

This article today in the Washington Post caught my attention:

Drug overdoses deaths soared to a record 93,000 last year

The death toll jumped by more than 21,000, or nearly 30 percent, from 2019, according to provisional data released by the National Center for Health Statistics, eclipsing the record set that year.

Disturbing news, but what caught my attention was how the article approached this problem. Not once was the notion of harsher enforcement mentioned as a possible solution or need.

Instead, here were some of the reflections in the article:

“Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in an interview that fentanyl has so thoroughly infiltrated the illegal drug supply that 70 percent of cocaine overdose deaths and 50 percent of methamphetamine overdose deaths also involved fentanyl. In many cases, she said, users are unaware that their drugs are laced with the powerful painkiller, which can halt breathing even if a minute amount is ingested.” […]

But unlike past years, 2020 brought the added complications of a worldwide viral pandemic. Health-care resources were stretched and redirected toward the emergency. Anti-addiction medication was more difficult to obtain. Stress increased dramatically. Users were more isolated, leading to additional overdoses because other people were not nearby to summon first responders or administer the opioid antidote naloxone, experts said.

“The pandemic has led to increased substance use across the board, as people have sought to manage stress, isolation, boredom, anxiety, depression, unemployment, relationship and child care issues, and housing instability,” Kimberly Sue, medical director of the National Harm Reduction Coalition, an advocacy group that tries to prevent overdose deaths, said in an email.

It’s time for the government to “provide medications for opioid use disorder for everyone who needs them, with no restrictions on cost or availability,” Volkow said.

There was a time when an article like this would be half enforcement-related, with a push for stricter laws and tough cracking down. This really seems like a long-overdue change in the discourse, at least. Recognition that drug illegality results in the more dangerous lacing with fentanyl, and that stress, depression, and instability (etc.) are factors leading to addiction and overdose as opposed to it being a thing you can just arrest your way out of (or “just say no” to).

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5 comments to Is public discourse on drug overdoses improving?

  • Servetus

    San Francisco 2020 OD deaths doubled. From Capradio:

    …Data from the San Francisco medical examiner’s office report show 697 accidental drug overdose deaths from January through December 2020.

    That’s more than twice San Francisco’s 257 deaths due to COVID-19, according to figures from the city’s public health department.
    Health officials say the isolation caused by the pandemic led to an increase in fentanyl overdoses in the city.

    Notably, San Francisco had one of the lowest per-capita COVID-19 death rates of any major city in the country last year. […]

  • Son of Sam Walton

    Some funny youtube dude likes to do shows on states, dividing them by region, politics, and economics. Come to find out, meth is really popular in a lot of these really poor parts. But Oklahoma having the same issues as many of these states, was no longer in the top ten for meth use, while previously holding the record for being in the Top 5 for decades on out. And they are all believing cannabis is responsible for Okies being in the top 10%. In fact, Oklahoma made medical marijuana more affordable and easier to obtain during the pandemic . . . the Pandemic was a good time to open up a new store. And we have drive-in stores, where you drive your car through the middle of the store if you don’t feel like getting out of your car.

    On a not-so-high note: my 60something older gentleman I help to take care of when it comes to being his friend and getting him his meds had all his vapes and pens confiscated by the nursing staff on Monday at his State ran VA home. And his meds were helping and giving him vigor and appetite. Now he cannot eat and he just looks so horrible. It’s not like he was smoking flower and having lighters (prohibited to all due to oxygen) on him. The state says we are allowed to have it, but the administration says that we cannot because we are partially funded by the VA and not just the State. But none of the elderly vets smoking pot causes problems or sensations or pisses off the staff; it’s when Covid-19 causes admin to act dumb and hypocritical or when they keep two old people in a hot tub all day, later to find out they boiled to death in temperatures not suited for any human of any age for longer than a second.

  • Servetus

    Depressed LGB youths use more cannabis, study:

    19-JUL-2021…Participants were followed from the age of five months and the study was based on their responses to questionnaires collected at ages 13, 15 and 17. Although there was an association between depressive symptoms at age 15 and increased cannabis use at age 17 in the general sample, the association was five times stronger among LGB youth.

    According to London-Nadeau, this relationship may signal a practice of LGB youth self-medicating with cannabis to cope with depressive symptoms. The use of cannabis for these purposes could also indicate that other sources of support for depressive symptoms are lacking or inadequate for the realities of LGB youth.

    Unexpectedly, the study also found that anxiety symptoms among LGBs at age 15 predicted reduced cannabis use at age 17. This finding thus seems to run counter to the finding of an association between depression and cannabis use in the LGB group.

    “The difference between the depression-cannabis relationship and the anxiety-cannabis relationship could indicate different realities that LGB youth would experience, particularly with respect to their public display of their minority sexual orientation,” said London-Nadeau. […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: Cannabis: sexually diverse youths with depression use more

    Related journal article: Longitudinal associations of cannabis, depression, and anxiety in heterosexual and LGB adolescents

  • Servetus

    Mouth ulcers successfully treated using CBD:

    22-JUL-2021…The oral ulcer is a common oral inflammatory lesion with severe pain but little effective treatment is currently available. Cannabidiol (CBD) is recently emerging as a therapeutic agent for inflammatory diseases. However, the underlying mechanisms are not fully elucidated. Qi and colleagues sought to investigate whether and how CBD could play a therapeutic role in the oral ulcer. Oral ulcer models were performed in the tongue of C57BL/6 mice by acid etching or mechanical trauma, followed by CBD local administration. Samples were harvested for macroscopic and histological evaluation.

    CBD oral spray on acid- or trauma-induced oral ulcers on mice tongues inhibited inflammation, relieved pain and accelerated lesions closure in a dose-dependent manner. The results show that CBD accelerates oral ulcer healing by inhibiting CMPK2-mediated NLRP3 inflammasome activation and pyroptosis, which is mediated mostly by PPARγ in nucleus and partially by CB1 in plasma membrane. This data may shed light on the development of new therapeutic strategies for oral ulcers. […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: Cannabidiol promotes oral ulcer healing by inactivating CMPK2-mediated NLRP3 inflammasome

    Original Publication: CANNABIDIOL PROMOTES ORAL ULCER HEALING BY INACTIVATING CMPK2-MEDIATED NLRP3 INFLAMMASOME

  • Servetus

    A time when doctors took cocaine injections in the name of science, produced by Rohin Francis, MBBS:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0duLUAc9Pc

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