Google temporarily bans addiction center ads globally following exposure of seedy referral deals

 Google is temporarily halting advertisements worldwide for addiction and rehabilitation centers, following a report last week showing it was acting as a platform for shady referral services earning huge undisclosed commissions. Read More

‘Substitute Phone’ artfully satisfies your compulsion to swipe and scroll

 Smartphones are inarguably an addictive class of devices, and not just because they put an endless font of information at your fingertips. The experience of holding the phone and touching it is itself associated with that pleasure — so much so that you might wish you were doing it even when you don’t want to actually use the phone. That’s when you need one of these… Read More

As epidemic rages, ER study finds opioids no better than Advil and Tylenol

The easiest way to avoid getting hooked on opioids may be to never take them in the first place. After all, an initial prescription of just a few days-worth of pills can trap patients into using the highly-addictive, often deadly drugs for a year or more. But despite the dangers, many patients don’t have the luxury of passing on potent pain killers—for instance, those stumbling into a hospital emergency room with a broken or badly bloodied limb.

At least, that’s what doctors assumed.

In a randomized, double-blind clinical trial—the gold standard of trials—a combination of ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) was just as effective at treating patients with acute pain in an extremity as three other pain killer combinations containing opioids. The authors of the study, which was published Tuesday in JAMA, suggest that emergency room doctors may be able to simply skip the opioids during and after urgent treatment.

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FDA wants to make cigarettes non-addictive, give e-cig makers a leg up

The Food and Drug Administration announced a comprehensive, multi-year plan Thursday to stamp out the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the country—tobacco use.

The agency intends to reduce the amount of nicotine allowed in traditional combustion cigarettes with the goal of making them “non-addictive.” At the same time, the FDA will delay regulations on electronic cigarettes and other newer products to “afford the agency time to explore clear and meaningful measures to make tobacco products less toxic, appealing, and addictive,” the agency said in a press statement.

“A key piece of the FDA’s approach is demonstrating a greater awareness that nicotine—while highly addictive—is delivered through products that represent a continuum of risk and is most harmful when delivered through smoke particles in combustible cigarettes,” the agency wrote.

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Survey: Pain patients overwhelmingly prefer medical marijuana over opioids

When patients have a choice between opioids and medical marijuana for a painful condition, an overwhelming majority say they prefer marijuana, that it works just as well, and has fewer side effects, a new survey finds.

Though the survey, involving 2,897 medical cannabis patients, didn’t track actual drug use or efficacy, the findings fits with previous data. Decades of research suggest marijuana is effective for pain treatment. And recent studies have found that in states with medical marijuana availability, there are fewer opioid overdose deaths and doctors fill fewer opioid prescriptions.

The authors of the new survey, led by Amanda Reiman of the University of California, Berkeley, say the data furthers the need to examine marijuana as a “viable substitute for pain treatment,” particularly in light of the devastating opioid epidemic now gripping the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that opioids killed more than 33,0000 Americans in 2015, and estimates that 91 people in the US die each day from the highly addictive drugs.

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Video games may protect mental health and avert trauma, addiction

Video games often blamed for rotting minds may actually protect them, according to a series of studies.

Researchers report that Tetris—a classic game that takes hold of spatial and visual systems in the brain as players align irregular polygons—seems to jumble the mind’s ability to process and store fresh traumatic memories. Those improperly preserved memories are subsequently less likely to resurface as intrusive, distressing flashbacks, which can contribute to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, complicated grief, and other mental health issues.

For those struggling with cravings or addiction, other research has found that Tetris’ mental grasp can also diminish the intensity of hankerings and help game players fight off real-life dependencies.

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With a 10-day supply of opioids, 1 in 5 become long-term users

The longer a person uses opioids, the greater the risk of forming a deadly addiction. But just how long does it take to switch from being a short-term user—say, while you’re dealing with pain after a surgery—to a long-term, potentially problematic user? A few weeks? A month?

According to a new study, that transition could take just a matter of days.

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Lawsuit: Greedy drug maker purposefully flooded black market with opioids

After spending millions to combat the opioid epidemic ravaging its citizens, the working-class city of Everett, Washington, is taking the maker of opioid painkiller OxyContin to federal court. The city claims that the drug maker, Purdue Pharma, knowingly sold to black markets out of pure greed, enabling the devastating epidemic hitting Everett and the rest of the country.

According to the lawsuit (PDF) filed in federal court in Seattle, Everett accuses Purdue Pharma of “knowingly, recklessly, and/or negligently supplying OxyContin to obviously suspicious physicians and pharmacies and enabling the illegal diversion of OxyContin into the black market, including to drug rings, pill mills, and other dealers for dispersal of the highly addictive pills in Everett.” Purdue’s goal, Everett alleges, was to “generate enormous profits” at the expense of the people of Everett.

Purdue isn’t new to court battles. In 2007, the infamous drug maker and three of its executives pled guilty in federal court and paid out $634.5 million in fines for purposefully misleading regulators, doctors, and patients about the addictiveness of their opioid painkiller. Around the same time, Purdue was also sued by several states, including Washington, over similar allegations. Purdue agreed to a $19.5 million multi-state settlement. And in 2015, Purdue settled a case with Kentucky, agreeing to pay $24 million.

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