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Undoing the harm: Tapering down from high-dose opioids
The CDC’s Guideline on Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain helps doctors and patients manage treatment at safe levels and avoid dependence. Any plan to taper medication dosage should be personalized to the patient’s needs.
Do hangovers damage the brain?
Ask the doctor
Q. With the holidays coming, I may be tempted to drink more than usual — maybe enough to have a hangover the next morning. I'm wondering if a hangover could actually damage my brain.
A. There have been a few scientific studies of that question. Recently, a team of scientists examined those existing studies, involving over 1,100 people, and came to some tentative conclusions, published online August 25 by the journal Addiction.
Is it safe for women to drink alcohol?
Ask the doctor
Image: © DragonImages/Getty Images
Q. The Harvard Health Letter has often said that it is generally healthy for women to have one alcoholic drink per day. Yet I hear a recent study showed no benefit. What's the truth?
A. Before answering your question, let's define "one drink": it's 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. And it means having one drink each day of the week, not having seven drinks on Saturday night, sleeping it off Sunday, and begging off until next Saturday night. Now, despite the recent study, we stick with what we've said, which reflects the research of outstanding nutrition scientists at Harvard and elsewhere.
What new opioid laws mean for pain relief
Dozens of states are cracking down on the amount of opioids doctors can prescribe.
Image: © Darwin Brandis/Getty Images
Overdoses of powerful painkillers called opioids kill more than 115 people per day in the United States. More than 42,000 people died from opioids in 2016, five times more than in 1999. The reason? Since several of these powerful painkillers became available in pill form several decades ago, doctors have been prescribing more than patients need. "It is estimated that a large part of leftover opioids are diverted to the street, either deliberately or through theft," says Dr. Edgar Ross, senior clinician at the Pain Management Center at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
The misuse of opioids is a risk many states are no longer willing to take. The rules limit the amounts that medical professionals can prescribe for temporary (acute) pain from surgery, injury, or illness.
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