Addiction

When a loved one is addicted to opiates

Peter Grinspoon, MD
Peter Grinspoon, MD, Contributing Editor

Considering the death toll from opioid overdoses, responding to loved one’s opioid addiction love and empathy might be the safer and more effective method for friends and families to take. At the same time, It is essential to pay attention to the wellbeing of the family members themselves, as having a loved one with a substance use disorder can be profoundly stressful and disruptive, even traumatic.

Binge drinking continues to rise — particularly among women and seniors

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Data from several surveys indicate that the percentage of women who drink has been increasing for decades. The numerous health effects associated with alcohol consumption mean that women should be especially attentive to how much they drink.

Physicians and opioids: Part of the solution, but challenges ahead

James S. Gessner, MD
James S. Gessner, MD, President Massachusetts Medical Society, Guest Contributor

As doctors acknowledge the role that they have played in the current opioid crisis, they, along with hospitals, medical schools, and other members of the medical community have worked to address the issue on several fronts, including instituting prescribing guidelines and offering continuing education to prescribers.

Treating pain after opioid addiction: A personal story

Peter Grinspoon, MD
Peter Grinspoon, MD, Contributing Editor

What happens when a person who was addicted to opiates is injured and needs pain medication? A doctor who is in recovery has firsthand experience.

Long-term use of opioids may depend on the doctor who prescribes them

Scott Weiner, M.D.
Scott Weiner, M.D., Contributor

With opioid addiction such a serious problem, new research indicates that some doctors are more likely to prescribe opioids to their patients than others, and those patients are more likely to end up taking these medications long term. That means it is crucial for consumers to educate themselves about the risks of taking opiates, and to consider alternative medications and treatments if possible.

Teen drug use is down: Better parenting, or more smartphones?

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Data from an annual survey show that use of illicit drugs among teenagers is in decline, and has been for some time. It’s possible that this can be partially attributed to the popularity of smartphones.

Parents: As more states legalize marijuana, here’s what you need to know and do

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

As marijuana becomes legal or is decriminalized in more states, teens are less likely to view its use as risky, so parents need to talk with their children about safety, especially if they use it themselves.

A primary care doctor delves into the opioid epidemic

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

A new approach to treating the large numbers of people with opioid use disorder involves using medications to prevent withdrawal symptoms, and has been shown to be safer and more effective than traditional detox treatment, but some question the replacement of one drug with others.

Saving lives by prescribing naloxone with opioid painkillers

Sarah Wakeman, MD, FASAM, Medical Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative

Unintentional opioid overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. These drugs are prescribed to patients to help relieve pain, but overdoses happen because opioids can also depress breathing, sometimes stopping it altogether. But naloxone, also called Narcan, can help reverse the effects of an overdose. If doctors prescribe naloxone at the same time as opioids, overdose deaths may decrease.

Words matter: The language of addiction and life-saving treatments

Sarah Wakeman, MD, FASAM, Medical Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative

The challenges of drug addiction are compounded by stigmatizing language and incorrect perceptions about the medications used in addiction treatment. Viewing addiction as a disease and likening it to other chronic diseases can help remove the negative connotations from the illness.