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March 29, 2011
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In this issue...
  • ASAM News
  • Research
  • In The Media
  • Public Policy & Regulatory News
  • Advocacy
  • Education and Resources
  • Chapter News

  • Register for the 2011 Medical-Scientific Conference
    ASAM    Share   Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail
    ASAM will launch its Live Learning Center at this year's annual conference in Washington, DC, April 14-17. Register for the conference and receive free online access to all of the recorded sessions and synched presentations. Click here for the full program and registration information, click here for the exhibit prospectus and click here for the application.

    In conjunction with the Medical-Scientific Conference, the "30th Annual Ruth Fox Course for Physicians" will be held as well as "Pain and Addiction: Common Threads XII, Safety First: Best Practices." Both courses will be offered on April 14. For detailed information and to register, click here.

    ASAM News

    Renew Your Membership Today
    ASAM    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
    Reminder — If you have not already renewed your ASAM membership for 2011, please do so now in order to continue to receive your membership benefits and services. Renewing is easy. You can renew online with your credit card by using your membership credentials, or you can contact the national office at 301.656.3920 or 800.844.8948. For an extensive list of membership benefits and services, visit ASAM's website at

    Charles R. Schuster Memorial Congressional Briefing
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    With the death of Charles R. (Bob) Schuster on Feb. 21, there have been many expressions of interest from persons wishing to commemorate his contributions to science throughout his career by making donations to a suitable memorial.

    Bob's family encourages such donations to the Friends of NIDA, a nonprofit coalition of individuals, scientific and professional societies, patient groups and other organizations committed to the elimination of drug abuse and addiction through education, advocacy and the promotion of broad public and private support for the research agenda of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

    This is a particularly suitable organization given Bob's leadership as director of NIDA from 1986 to 1992. Bob was also a member of the board of Friends of NIDA, which has established the Charles R. Schuster Congressional Briefing Series. As we know, Bob was a great believer in the empowerment of science to inform policy. As NIDA director, Bob provided congressional testimony and many briefings himself.

    Tax-deductible memorial contributions by credit card may be designated at:

    If you prefer, donations can be made by check to Friends of NIDA. Mail contributions to:
    Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
    Attn.: William L. Dewey, Ph.D.
    Dept. of Pharmacology
    P.O. Box 980613
    Richmond, VA 23298-0613 USA

    Opioid Antagonists for Alcohol Dependence
    The Cochrane Collaboration (Free Abstract)    Share    Share on
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    Alcohol dependence is a chronic disease, which can develop when alcohol is heavily used over longer periods of time. Alcohol affects various brain regions, including the opioid receptor system, which mediates euphoric and pleasurable effects of alcohol. By blocking alcohol effects at these receptors, the opioid antagonists naltrexone and nalmefene can reduce alcohol "liking" and "craving" and thus support alcohol dependent patients in cutting down their drinking.

    Fifty studies with 7,793 participants were included in a recent review. In most studies treatment was provided over a period of three months. The review shows that more patients who took naltrexone were able to reduce the amount and frequency of drinking than those who took an identical appearing, but inert substance. On average, 1 out of 9 patients was helped by naltrexone. Naltrexone does not have serious side effects, but gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, stomach pain and loss of appetite are common. Some patients also get tired from naltrexone.

    For injectable formulations of naltrexone, which can be advantageous for patients who have problems with taking their medication on schedule, and the second opioid antagonist nalmefene, the database is still too sparse to allow final conclusions. Nevertheless, the available studies indicate that these drugs might have comparable effects on drinking than oral naltrexone has. Naltrexone does not cause dependency and unlike disulfiram, another medicine that is sometimes used to treat alcohol dependence, it does not make patients feel sick if they drink alcohol while taking it.

    Measuring Costs of Alcohol Harm to Others: A Review of the Literature
    Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence (Free Abstract)    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
    People other than the drinker experience harmful consequences from alcohol misuse, accounting for part of the economic burden to society. However, little has been done on costing harm to others. A recent review aimed to recognize the range of costs considered or not when evaluating harm to people other than the drinker and to identify the costing frameworks and quality of the costing used for this purpose. In the literature review, 25 publications including costs on alcohol harm to others were looked at.

    The review found that fetal alcohol syndrome was the harm to others most frequently cost. The cost-of-illness framework was used in 24 of the publications, while one employed a cost–benefit analysis serving as starting point for further studies estimating intangible costs. Indirect costs were quantified most frequently with the human capital approach. The majority of publications critically assessed on costing received an average quality score.

    The review concluded that few studies have reported costs on the magnitude from harm to people other than the drinker, therefore the overall economic burden of risky alcohol consumption across countries is underestimated, but the review would be a starting point for future research on costing alcohol harm to others.

    Study Helps Target Naltrexone Use
    Medpage Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
    The alcohol-cessation drug naltrexone (Revia) may work better for women and for patients with a certain genetic polymorphism, researchers say. In a small study of social drinkers, women felt significantly less euphoria after a drink if they had taken naltrexone, but men did not, Marco Leyton, Ph.D., of McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues reported in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The same was true for carriers of the A118G polymorphism, the researchers said. However, naltrexone didn't appear to reduce self-administration of alcohol among social drinkers, not even among those who reported diminished euphoria.

    » Medpage Today    » Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research - Abstract

    Physician Substance Abuse Training 'Inadequate'    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail
    Physicians from Yale University and other institutions assert that medical residents need far more rigorous training and medical schools need stronger infrastructure in order to adequately deal with the medical, behavioral, financial, and social problems created by substance abuse disorders. Their paper appears in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The authors write that each year in the United States, more than 100,000 deaths and $300 billion in costs are attributed directly to the use of alcohol and other drugs, but that physicians have not been adequately trained to recognize patients with substance abuse disorders. Also covered in ASAM News on page 21 by clicking here.

    » » Annals of Internal Medicine - Paid Access
    » ASAM News (page 21)

    General's Story of Drug Dependency Should Spur Army to Help the Injured
    Las Vegas Sun and USA Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
    Army Lt. Gen. David Fridovich has had a sterling career and is the deputy commander of the nation's special operations forces, overseeing about 60,000 highly trained troops. But he was on the front page of USA Today for a different reason — his dependency on prescription painkillers. The general told a frank story of how he got hooked and recovered. It's a gutsy thing to do given the military's culture, which doesn't provide room for displays of weakness. But Fridovich's journey is an example of the prevalence of the problem.

    » Las Vegas Sun » USA Today

    Report: Most States Have Axed Mental Health Funds
    Reuters and NAMI    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
    Two out of 3 states have made deep cuts in general fund spending on mental health care in the past two years, Reuters reported. According to a report released by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), two-thirds of all states slashed non-Medicaid mental health funding. NAMI examined the budgets of all 50 states and the District of Columbia for its analysis. States that cut the most are: Kentucky (47 percent), Alaska (35 percent), Arizona (23 percent), and South Carolina (23 percent).

    "Cutting mental health means that costs only get shifted to emergency rooms, schools, police, local courts, jails and prisons," said Michael Fitzpatrick, NAMI's director. "The taxpayer still pays the bill." A few states bucked the trend by increasing spending on mental health over the same time period, including Oregon (23 percent), North Carolina (21 percent), and Rhode Island (7 percent).

    » Reuters    » NAMI

    NADCP Releases Initial Response to DPA and JPI Reports
    National Association of Drug Court Professionals    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
    The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) simultaneously released two yoked reports criticizing drug courts. The reports' authors admit to being "unscientific," and contain numerous unsubstantiated and sensationalized claims. Written by drug policy advocates rather than scientists, these reports turn a blind eye to the mountain of scientific evidence proving drug courts work in order serve their mutual drug decriminalization agenda.

    The science proving the benefits and efficacy of drug court is unambiguous. Drug courts significantly reduce drug use and crime, and save significant tax-payer dollars. Simply put, drug courts have superior outcomes compared to jail or prison, and greatly improve community treatment outcomes, as multiple studies have demonstrated. The Drug Policy Alliance and Justice Policy Institute have not addressed these and other findings.

    Over the past 22 years of operation, drug courts have diverted hundreds of thousands of prison-bound addicted offenders into community treatment and supervision. Now serving 120,000 individuals per year, drug courts reunite broken families, serve our nation's veterans when substance abuse and mental illness lead them astray, intervene with juveniles on the brink of a debilitating life of addiction and crime, and stop repeat DWI offenses. Drug courts have repeatedly withstood rigorous empirical scrutiny and have proven their efficacy and cost-benefit to America.

    ASAM issued a letter in support of NADCP and drug courts, signed by ASAM President Dr. Lou Baxter. ASAM staff attended the briefings and listened to the briefings of both reports. NADCP is developing a considered and detailed response to both reports. An initial response can be found by clicking here.

    Smoking Ban Bill May Need Exemptions to Pass in Illinois Senate
    The Associated Press via Chicago Tribune    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
    Health advocates will have to live with wide exemptions in a proposed statewide Illinois smoking ban because a stricter, more comprehensive ban wouldn't be able to pass the conservative Senate, the head of a Senate committee said. Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, said the bill has its best shot in years of passing because of exemptions for casinos, bars, clubs and even nursing homes. But health advocates told the Senate Public Policy Committee, which Sen. Alting chairs, that they wanted a more comprehensive smoking ban that would protect all workers, even those who work in casinos and bars. More

    Bill Seeks to Expand Mental Health Providers' Eligibility For EHR Incentives
    Healthcare IT News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
    A new bill aims at expanding eligibility for electronic health record incentives to mental health care providers and facilities. Notably, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, introduced The Behavioral Health Information Technology Act of 2011. Sheldon said, "By expanding the use of electronic health records, my legislation will give mental health professionals access to comprehensive and up to date medical histories, enhancing the precision of diagnoses and reducing medication errors." More

    DEA Holding 2nd Nationwide Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in April
    SAMHSA    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
    The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and its community partners will hold the second National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day at sites throughout the United States April 30. This will be an opportunity for the public to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for safe disposal. Visit the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day website:

    ASAM Legislative Day — April 13: Congressman Tonko to Deliver Opening Address
    ASAM    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
    Educate Congressional representatives about addiction medicine and addiction treatment parity in health care coverage. The event immediately precedes ASAM's Medical-Scientific Conference in Washington, DC. Find more information on ASAM's Legislative Day page.

    NIDA Briefing on 'Marijuana Use Disorders: Dependence and Treatment Research'
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    With support from ASAM, the Friends of National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) briefed congressional staff March 8 on "Marijuana Use Disorders: Dependence and Treatment Research." Speakers included Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of NIDA and Alan J. Budney, Ph.D. from the Center for Addiction Research, University of Arkansas for Medical Research.

    Dr. Volkow talked about the correlation between marijuana dependence and mental conditions such as mood and anxiety disorders, also the effect of marijuana dependence on the brain, particularly impaired short-term memory, altered decision-making and animal research showing how marijuana use during adolescence can alter brain development.

    Dr. Budney presented on how research on marijuana can lead to improved treatments. He talked about specific treatments that work for marijuana use such as teaching coping skills, how to deal with cravings, peer pressure, and stress. He also discussed how to engage social supports and prosocial alternatives, and provide motivation for not using. He also focused on the need for more research to understand marijuana withdraw and factors that may lead to dependence including genetics and impulsivity.

    See the following links for the presentations and issue brief provided during the briefing.

    » Dr. Volkow's Presentation
    » Dr. Budney's Presentation
    » NIDA Research Brief
    » Friends of NIDA Website

    SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices
    SAMHSA    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
    The National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) is a searchable database of interventions for the prevention and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. SAMHSA has developed this resource to help people, agencies, and organizations implement programs and practices in their communities. More

    Sign Up With PCSS-M Now
    ASAM    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
    The Physician Clinical Support System for Methadone (PCSS-M) is a free, nationwide program through which health care providers needing information and mentoring on methadone treatment for opioid addiction and/or pain management can connect with experts in the field. They come from across the country and work in licensed opioid treatment programs, pain clinics, primary care and other practice settings. PCSS-M provides services to any health care provider treating patients with methadone in an effort to increase the appropriate use and safety of this efficacious, but clinically challenging medication. Visit for more information.

    Upcoming Events

    Date Event Location More Information
    March 29 SAMHSA Advisory Committees Rockville, MD Live Webcast
    May 2-3 Advancing Public Health and Safety - It's All About Behavior Baltimore, MD Institutes for Behavior Resources
    June 17 Drug Use, Abuse and Dependence in Women: Promising Interventions and Treatments Hollywood, FL Women's and Children's International Group

    Upcoming Chapter Events

    Date Chapter Location More Information
    April 29-30 North Carolina Asheville, NC Addiction Medicine 2011: Meeting Tomorrow's Challenges Today
    Aug. 26-27 Georgia Atlanta 2011 Summer Conferece
    Oct. 12-15 California Long Beach, CA 2011 Addiction Medicine State of the Art Conference

    ASAM    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
    After you have read this issue, we encourage you to fill out a four-question survey to help us shape future issues by clicking here.
    ASAM Weekly
    Richard G. Soper, M.D., J.D., M.S., FASAM, Editor-In-Chief, ASAM Weekly
    Lori Karan, M.D., FACP, FASAM, Chair, ASAM Publications Council
    Dawn Howell, ASAM Publishing Program Coordinator, 301.656.3920 ext. 119
    Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, MultiBriefs, 469.420.2601   Download media kit
    Meghan Day, Content Editor, MultiBriefs, 469.420.2650   Contribute news

    ASAM reviews the content of each article included in ASAM Weekly to ensure that it is reflective of the mission of ASAM, aligned with the core principles of addiction medicine and of interest to our members. The articles cited in in ASAM Weekly are offered for information only and ASAM is not responsible for the content of the articles.

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