October 24, 2016
Opiate abuse and addiction is the greatest threat to our nation right now when it comes to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. Truthfully stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
• “Opiate addiction is now an epidemic in the United States of America. This is a horrendous situation. Never in the history of the CDC has an addiction problem ever advanced out of the condition of a crisis and into the condition of an epidemic. This has happened, and it has happened with opiates, both heroin and prescription opiates.”
That wasn’t all either. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) monitors the treatment of addicts and the numbers on it. They had this to say:
• “Currently, there are roughly ten million opiate addicts in the United States. American rehabilitation centers rehabilitate and free about a hundred thousand to one-hundred and fifty thousand addicts every year. Unfortunately though, it is predicted that about another two-hundred thousand to three-hundred thousand become newly addicted very year.”
Prescription drug abuse in the nation is actually quite insane and completely out of control. Enough painkillers were prescribed by American doctors during one month in 2010 to medicate every American around the clock for an entire month! The truth is though, a majority of those who take prescription pain medicine for non-medical reasons get them free from a friend or relative, who got them from a doctor who was overprescribing them and breaking the law by doing so. For the numbers on it, in nearly 85 percent of those cases, the friend or relative obtained them from one doctor. One in five users obtains prescriptions themselves from one doctor, making the problem one of our own health system, not one of trafficking from other countries like is the case with other drugs.
Heroin is almost as bad. For example, from the years of 2000 through 2013, the age-adjusted rate for overall drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin in one way or another, nearly quadrupled from 0.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2000 to 2.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2013. Most of the increase occurred after the year of 2010 when heroin and prescription opiates started being used in tandem. This means that heroin as a killer in the United States has now achieved the level of being an actual epidemic. Furthermore, the number of drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin was nearly four times higher for men (6,525 deaths) than women (1,732 deaths) in 2013, making it a much bigger problem for the men of the nation, not as much for the women of the nation.
Can Tests Predict Opiate Abuse?
What if there was a way for doctors to better screen for addiction before it becomes a problem for their patients? What if doctors could screen their patients for risks of addiction before prescribing them drugs to ensure that their patients won’t end up becoming addicted to those drugs? A man by the name of Brian Meshkin, CEO of Proove Bioscience thinks that it is very possible that he’s found something of a solution for all of us to use. He’s developed a product recently called Proove Opioid Risk, a very simple and very quick test that doctors give to patients that combines their genetic profile with clinical observation that Proove says can predict a patient’s risk of becoming addicted to opioids with about ninety percent accuracy.
How does this test work though and is it legitimate? Apparently, a patient is asked six questions that were found to be highly predictive of future opioid addiction, such as if there is any personal history of substance use or a diagnosis of depression for one thing, or if they ever had any addicts in the family. Then, a DNA sample is collected from a cheek swab. The DNA is then sent to Proove where 12 different gene variants are analyzed for potentiality of addiction. According to Meshkin, 12 genes are part of the brain’s mesolimbic system, the pathway of the brain associated with addiction. It’s often referred to as the reward circuit because it is activated when behaviors, like drug taking, are engaged upon.
This test is not necessarily fool proof by any means at all, but it could be the first of many improvements in our medical approach to trying to stop addiction from being such a problem right in our very own doctors’ offices and with our own prescription drugs that are supposed to help us, not threaten our lives.