Articles on Opioids

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A man injects himself with heroin using a needle obtained from the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance, the nation’s largest needle-exchange program, in Seattle, Washington. David Ryder/Reuters

From the clinic to the street: How the explosion in prescription painkillers has created more heroin users

Why have the demographics of heroin use changed so much? For that, we can look to dramatic increase in prescriptions for opioid painkillers, such as Oxycontin or Vicodin.
Safe injection facilities (SIFs) offer clean syringes, bandages and antiseptics to drug users. SIFs reduce overdose deaths and limit the spread of disease. Andy Clark/Reuters

Safe injection facilities: more than just a place to shoot drugs

Not only can they improve public health and decrease treatment costs, but they can also address one of the root causes of addiction: loneliness.
Little pills with big problems. Teens buying pills via Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Easier access to prescription drugs puts teens at risk

When you think about substance use and teens, drugs like marijuana or Ecstasy might come to mind. But recreational prescription drug use is a significant problem. Nationally, 17.8% of high school students…
In states like Massachusetts, heroin overdoses have skyrocketed in recent years. vidguten/Shutterstock

Can medical marijuana curb the heroin epidemic?

In the 1930s, Harry J. Anslinger, the first head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, embarked on a fierce anti-marijuana campaign. Highlighted by the 1936 anti-marijuana film Reefer Madness – where marijuana…
Will stricter controls on painkillers curb abuse and addiction? Stock images of pills from www.shutterstock.com

Do stricter controls curb opioid abuse?

Americans consume a staggering amount of the opioid painkiller hydrocodone - about 99% of the world’s supply. In October, after 10 years of debate the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reclassified medications…
Opioid addicts now being armed with overdose antidote. Gretchen Ertl/Reuters

Explainer: naloxone, the antidote to opioid overdose

Many first responders’ – even some university police officers – are carrying a new tool in their first-aid kits. It’s naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote drug, and today it’s more widely available than…
People overdose from illicit substances, such as heroin, or prescription medications, such as valium or opioid painkillers. Thomas Marthinsen/Flickr

Three things you need to know about drug overdoses

In 2012, 103,000 people around the world lost their lives to drug poisoning or overdose. As terrible as this waste of life seems, it’s important to remember that drug overdoses are not inevitably fatal…
Existing evidence for distributing naloxone to prevent overdose deaths is weak. intropin/Flickr

Should naloxone be used to reduce opioid overdoses?

It’s now almost two years since ACT chief minister and minister for health, Katy Gallagher, launched Australia’s first program to distribute naloxone to prevent heroin overdoses. Other states have followed…
There are some effective ways to balance the harms of opioids with its benefits. strollerdos/Flickr

Some ways to balance the benefits and harms of opioids

The use of opioid medication in Australia has grown considerably in the past 20 years, and so have related harms. This increase in use is primarily for chronic pain conditions, now the most common reason…

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