About Addiction: food, treatment, babies and teens

Our weekly About Addiction summaries are back! Make sure to tune in for the latest in research and news coverage of the drug abuse and drug addiction landscape. This time we’re talking about the food and drug addiction connection, drug using baby boomers, accidents, addicted babies, and drug using teens during summer breaks. If you

Food or drugs? A new study suggests a path for choice – A recent study Yale School of Medicine professors has found that neurons associated with overeating are also linked to non-food associated behaviors such as drug addiction. However, their discovery points to a relationship different than the contemporary view; they found an inverse relationship between eating and drug addiction that shows people who lack a desire for food have a higher predisposition towards drug addiction. According to their findings, it seems that the drive for food and the drive for drugs compete with one another!

Obamacare’s effect on addiction treatment – The recent ruling by the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act was a huge moment in our country for many reasons. In the world of addiction, it has a great impact as well! By making sure all citizens have health insurance, it gives those seeking treatment a huge advantage: choice. In the past, those seeking addiction treatment could be limited by their insurance situation. Now, those seeking help will be able to get the treatment that is right for them, not just what is available to them. Also, substance abuse treatment will be able to have a more wide-reaching effect as treatment can be provided earlier as well as a preventative measure.

The dangers of driving high – According to a recent study done at Dalhousie University, marijuana use has a severe adverse effect on safe driving. This may not be new information, however this paper was the first to separate driving under the influence of marijuana from the influence of other drugs and alcohol. They looked at nine smaller studies including 49,411 people in order to calculate their results: finding that cannabis use nearly doubles the likelihood of a motor collision as compared to an uninhibited driver. With marijuana being the most widely used illicit substance in the world, with its usage rate still rising, it is important to separate the truths and myths about its effects.

Babies born addicted – This Thursday’s episode of Rock Center With Brian Williams featured a story on babies born with withdrawal symptoms from prescription painkillers. This is an epidemic in America, and the symptoms are heartbreaking to watch: the babies have tremors, digestive problems and cry inconsolably. There’s little doctors and nurses can do to comfort them as they slowly wean them off of the drugs. On this Thursday’s new Rock Center, Kate Snow reports on the shocking increase in the number of babies born addicted.

A Teenagers’ Summer: No school, less supervision, more drugs? – A new study released by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) reports that 671,000 teens aged twelve to seventeen will try alcohol for the first time this June and July alone; 305,000 teens will try cigarettes for the first time during these months, while 274,500 will have their first experience with marijuana. These numbers are an increase from the rest of the year, likely due to an increase in free time and decrease in adult supervision. While a large proportion of these individuals will never end up developing an addiction or substance abuse problems, this study makes it clear that the summertime may be a good time to talk to your kids about the risks and effects of these substances.

Spankings leading to drug abuse? New research reveals it may not be as far-fetched as you may think – The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released research that reveals strong links between corporal punishment in childhood and mood disorders, personality disorders, and addiction and drug abuse later in life. Specifically, according to the study, spankings raise the risk of alcohol and drug abuse by 59 percent. With a reported 94 percent of three- and four-year-olds receiving a spanking at least once in the last year, this has a widespread effect on the entire population. While one spanking does not lead to abuse, the research points to physical punishment as a regular means of discipline having adverse effects on mental health later in life.

Is grandpa getting high? More and more often the answer is becoming yes! – Drug use and drug abuse are often thought of in connection with young people, however the Baby Boomers are proving it can affect older people just the same. Last year alone an estimated 4.8 million adults aged 50 and above used an illicit drug. The risk is not just with illegal drugs, but also the misuse of prescription drugs. With the average 50-year-old-man using four different prescription drugs per day, the risk of becoming addicted to any one of them is substantial.

Seeing addiction as a disease, not a moral failing – In an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse Nora Volkow explains how addiction and drug use affect the brain and why it should be considered a disease, not a moral failing. Check out this link to see the whole interview.

How does Obama’s health care reform affect substance abuse treatment for Medicare patients?

Co-Authored by: Jamie Felzer

Medicare and addiction?  Do you typically think of these things as related? After the recent passage of Obama’s health care system reform, those utilizing Medicare and other government-sponsored systems will obviously be affected.

Government sponsored substance abuse treatment

A recent study on substance abuse treatment services for people with Medicare found that those who were younger than 65, and with a disability or mental disorder, had a much higher prevalence of substance abuse. About 100,000 people that fit into this category.

When it comes to debating health care reform, the elderly are the ones that are most often discussed as being affected by the changes in Medicare.  However, there is also a large population of people who are not elderly but also rely on the government-provided health care (like those on Medicaid for instance).

Most often substance abuse treatment co-occurs with mental health disorders, especially in the younger group receiving Medicare services.  76% of the younger claimants received substance abuse and mental health services while for those over age 65, only 54% received both treatments.  However, putting these percentages into the broader picture, only 1% of the elderly Medicare claimants have a primary diagnosis of substance abuse while for the younger group that same classification represents 5.7% of their age group.

How the law will affect substance abuse treatment

Part of Obama’s new health care reform increases the amount of research conducted regarding Medicare/Medicaid patients and their service utilization.  This research will focus on areas of providers, new treatment methods, as well as payment options to best suit all claimants. This could prove very beneficial, especially for those patients seeking treatment for co-morbid disorders.

With the recent passage in Congress of mental health parity laws that are set to begin in 2010, the healthcare system’s overhall should allow substance abuse treatment and mental health services to finally catch up with the rest of the health-care world. American will be far better off for it.

Citation:

Utilization of substance abuse treatment services under Medicare, 2001-2002. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 36 (2009) 414-419

Holahan & Blumberg. An Analysis of the Obama Healthcare Plan. Urban Institute Health Policy Center.