About Addiction: Drug Withdrawal in Newborns, Heroin, and Harm Reduction

There’s so much to learn about addiction nowadays – Psychological theories, new stories, neuroscience research, and more. At All About Addiction we try to make the information easy to digest, so when you need to sort of the latest information about addiction, come see us, we’ll help.

Harm reduction – Heroin and Injecting Drugs

Irish Examiner-After four individuals died from heroin overdoses in Ireland drug workers are issuing warnings to heroin users. The heroin that is being used is of better quality so it elevates the risk for overdose. Heroin has been off of the streets of Ireland for the past couple of months due to supplying issues but now heroin is back, and it is so pure that it is killing people. Another issue could be that the short absence of the drug has left people with less tolerance then before.

The Body– The International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) and HIV rights groups are urging the UN’s to legalize methadone in order to fight HIV/AIDS and heroin addiction In Russia. Russia is home to 1 million HIV-positive people (for comparison, the U.S> has about 500,000) and has one of the fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world. In addition to this Russia has 3 million heroin addicts.  Russia is refusing to employ harm reduction programs such as needle exchanges, or to legalize methadone to treat heroin addicts.  Many Russian officials such as Gennady Onishchenko feel that legalizing methadone will not help as it is “just another narcotic.” We’ve hear the same argument here, but perhaps the IHRA can convince Russia to use harm reduction problems in order to help individuals.

Harm Reduction Coalition– This “webinar” allow its viewers to gain cultural competency when it comes to learning about the injecting drug user. It asks questions like:  “Why is there a need for IDU cultural competency?” and “What is IDU Cultural Competency?”. Check out the webinar and see what it has to offer!

Mental Health and Prescription Drug Withdrawal in Newborns

Orlando SentinelPrescription drug abuse is already a problem in our society; in Florida alone prescription abuse is responsible for at least seven deaths a day. Prescription drug abuse is becoming even more problematic as it is now affecting newborns. In 2009 alone 1,000 babies were born and treated for drug-withdrawal syndrome.  In the past babies that were going through drug-withdrawal symptoms were most likely to suffer from crack cocaine addiction but now the babies are more likely to be addicted to prescription drugs.

Science Daily– A study was conducted and found that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are two to three times more likely than children without the disorder to develop serious substance abuse problems in adolescence and adulthood. Kate Humphreys, a colleague of Dr. Jaffe’s and a graduate student at UCLA was a coauthor of the research.

Addiction Recovery- Peer support

Stop Medicine Abuse-Often times it is best for teens to get information from their peers in order for something to have an effect in their lives. This website approaches substance abuse prevention with that specific mentality. Check out the testimony on this website as well as other resources that can be used by teens to learn about drug abuse.

Harm reduction – Why the bad press for addiction treatment that works?!

condoms can help protect again STDs

How many of you think that giving a crystal meth user condoms will increase their drug use? Probably not many. What if instead the question had to do with giving that same user clean needles rather than having them share a dirty one? Or having him reduce his drug use instead of stopping completely? I bet there would be a little more disagreement there.

Some of you may have heard of the harm-reduction approach to drug abuse counseling and treatment, but many of you likely haven’t because the term itself is essentially taboo in the United States. The idea is to approach the patient (or client) without the shaming or expectations of abstinence that normally come with drug treatment. Instead, the counselors hope to reduce as much of the negative things associated with the drug use.

For example, almost all drug injecting users end up with hepatitis C due to dirty-needle sharing. As in the above example, harm reduction practitioners would seek to provide users with clean needles, thereby reducing needle sharing and the transmission of disease. Risky sexual behavior is often associated with methamphetamine, and crack use; instead of targeting the use itself, often, interventions attempt to reduce unprotected sex, reducing HIV transmission in the process.

hypodermic-needleHarm reduction has many supporters, but unfortunately, there are at least as many people who are against it. The claim is that harm reduction doesn’t stop drug use, and that we shouldn’t be in the business of making drug use easier. In fact, though they have no data to support it, some people argue that giving users clean needles is likely to exacerbate their drug use. My argument is that life as a drug user is pretty difficult as is, and if we can provide a way to show drug addicts that people actually care about their well-being, we might help some of them see the light.

Even more to the point, my thinking is that HIV, Hepatitis C, and other conditions often helped by harm-reduction, have to be considered as additional societal costs of drug abuse. If harm reduction helps us tackle those collateral costs, I’m all for it as an additional tool.

The bottom line is this: If we can use multiple tools to solve a problem, why limit ourselves unnecessarily to only one? If harm reduction helps, why not use it in conjunction with abstinence treatment?

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s time for us to stop resorting to ridiculous moral judgments and start focusing on solving the problem. If we can help an addict use less, use fewer drugs, or use more responsibly, I say we should go for it!!!