Quick Hits: Synthetic Opioid Deaths Rise and Party Drug Shows Promise for PTSD

Synthetic opioids, specifically illicit fentanyl, caused more overdose deaths in the US alone than prescription opioids in 2016, according to a new analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry. Synthetic opioids have surpassed prescription opioids and were linked to 19,413 deaths in 2016, compared to 17,087 deaths attributed to prescription painkillers. In 2010, synthetic opioids were involved in only 14% of all opioid-related deaths, but that percentage significantly increased to more than 45% in 2016. The report also indicated that 79.7% of synthetic opioid–related overdose deaths in 2016 involved another drug or alcohol. “Lack of awareness about synthetic opioid potency, variability, availability and increasing adulteration of the illicit drug supply poses substantial risks to individual and public health,” the authors wrote. Posted May 1, 2018. Via JAMA Psychiatry.

The illicit party drug MDMA, also known as ecstasy, may curb symptoms for those battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a study published in Lancet Psychiatry. The study, sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, examined 19 men and 7 women with PTSD, including military veterans, firefighters and a police officer. The participants randomly received either 125mg, 75mg or 30mg of MDMA each month in combination with psychotherapy. The results at the end of the trial revealed that the higher doses of MDMA — 75mg and 125mg — demonstrated substantial improvement in areas such as severity of PTSD symptoms, sleep quality, certain personality traits and ability to function in daily life. Furthermore, the researchers indicated that 16 of the 24 participants who completed the study no longer met the criteria for PTSD a whole year later. Posted May 1, 2018. Via Lancet Psychiatry.

Alanna M.

Alanna M. is a graduate of Pace University.

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