Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Perinatal Addiction Treatment Program is using a grant from the March of Dimes to create an online toolkit for hospitals and health centers that want consistent guidelines and a systematic approach to care. For example, the toolkit includes consent forms that enable a patient’s addiction treatment provider and medical care team to share information and work together.
“Providers were saying, ‘I feel like my patients have two different health care teams — they have their addiction treatment provider and they have their perinatal health care team, and the two don’t talk to each other. This is not a safe situation,'” said project coordinator Daisy Goodman.
Officials estimate about 10 percent of newborns in New Hampshire’s Upper Connecticut Valley region are exposed to opioids before birth. While that number has increased, knowledge about how to treat them also has significantly improved, Goodman said.
Participating sites include Dartmouth-Hitchcock clinics in Lebanon, Claremont and New London; Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, Memorial Hospital in Conway, Manchester Health Center and Maine’s Waldo County General Hospital.
The committee who conducted the review concluded that patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids are likely to experience a huge decrease in pain symptoms. In adults suffering from multiple sclerosis-related muscle spasms, temporary use of oral cannabinoids led to a marked improvement in their condition, according to a news release.
The first attempt by the government to control the use of pot was commissioned by then New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia in response to the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. The LaGuardia report concluded that pot did not have any effect on a person’s sensibilities or decision-making ability.
Former U.S. President Richard Nixon also commissioned a scientific assessment of marijuana in the early 1970s. Commissioned by Nixon, the Schaefer Report came up with the conclusion that cannabis does not rank high in social problems in contemporary America.
There is a huge difference in the landscape of cannabis in 1999 and 2016. Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 28 states (as of this writing), while 16 states have CBD laws. Last summer, the DEA did not reschedule marijuana, which means that it has no medical value.
Testing It Up
Opioids, which include Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, and morphine, are powerful painkillers. In the past, opioids were mainly used for patients with cancer pain, at the end of life, or after major surgery. But starting about 20 years ago, there was a big push for doctors to prescribe opioids for acute and chronic pain of all types, such as headaches, fibromyalgia, arthritis and back pain.
At the same time, doctors were told, incorrectly, that these medications were not addictive. As a matter of fact, doctors were told that less than 1 percent of patients on long-term opioid therapy became addicted or dependent on the medications. Furthermore, starting patients on these medications, doctors were told, would return them to normal function. They would get their lives back.
If you are a young person (younger than 25) and take an opioid for any reason — after a surgery, tooth extraction, etc. — you are 50 percent more likely to become addicted in your lifetime. The young brain should not be exposed to opiates unless absolutely necessary.
Now, pain is very personal and emotional for many people. There are many people whose lives have been changed for the better because of opioid therapy, but the above statistics are sobering.
Because of the evolving understanding of opioid pain medications and the drastic increase in people living with addiction, and overdose deaths, providers are becoming more cautious about prescribing these medications. We will explore this and the community response to the opioid crisis in an article in this space next month.
With medical marijuana now legalized in 28 states and the District of Columbia, the debate over when, and if, a previously illegal and often stigmatized drug should be used to treat serious symptoms will likely carry on through the foreseeable future. However, new research shows that another illegal, and far more psychedelic, the substance may also have certain health advantages as well.
According to the results of two studies released last year, psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, can help ease feelings of anxiety and depression in cancer patients.
In both studies, one conducted at NYU and the other at Johns Hopkins University, 80 percent of cancer patients reported a decrease in anxiety and depression for at least six months. Psychiatric evaluators also supported their patients’ claims, noting an increase in optimism as well as overall quality of life. In the NYU-led research, 70 percent of participants said taking psilocybin was one of the five most important experiences they’d ever had.
That being said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that psilocybin is still considered a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning psychedelic mushrooms are legally considered to have no legitimate medical use and possess a high potential for abuse. Additionally, the treatment given in both studies was conducted under the care of medical professionals, meaning it isn’t recommended as some sort of catchall, home remedy for anxiety and depression.
Other, smaller studies have even found evidence that psilocybin may be beneficial in alcoholism, smoking addiction and obsessive compulsive disorder, meaning there may be even more reasons to call mushrooms “magic.”
In a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, the researchers conducted a survey of nearly 2,000 people who said they encountered a past negative experience when taking psilocybin-containing “magic mushrooms”. In fact, more than 10 percent believed their worst “bad trip” could put themselves or other at risk for physical harm.
Another 2.5 percent of the respondents said that behaved aggressively after taking magic mushrooms while 2.7 percent had to seek medical help. The researchers, however, warned that the survey they conducted dud not apply to all psilocybin use because the questionnaire used wasn’t designed to study the “good trip” experiences.
Positive Experiences Too
According to PsychCentral, despite the risk of psilocybin use, most of them still reported the experience to be “worthwhile” and “meaningful”. About half of the positive responses by users of magic mushrooms claimed that it was one of the top most valuable experiences in their life.
What Are Magic Mushrooms And Psilocybin?
The U.S. Department of Justice reports that psilocybin is a hallucinogenic substance obtained from magic mushrooms which are indigenous to tropical and subtropical regions of Mexico, South America and the United States.
Though many studies have shown that psilocybin could be used to treat anxiety and depression, the use of this substance is associated with negative psychological and physical consequences. The physical effects of magic mushrooms usually take place within 20 minutes of ingestion. These could last for about 6 hours and include muscle weakness, drowsiness, lack of coordination, nausea and vomiting.
On the other hand, psychological effects of magic mushrooms include hallucinations and an inability to discern reality from fantasy. In large doses, however, panic and psychosis may occur.
Counsel & Heal
Psilocybin, the main active ingredient in magic mushrooms, is responsible for the hallucinogenic effects. In the U.S, the magic mushroom is considered a Schedule I substance, which means that it has a high potential for abuse.
In 2014, an estimated 22.9 million people in the U.S. reported lifetime use of Psilocybin, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Recent studies have documented a wide range of positive effects of Psilocybin on the human brain, say easing depression or anxiety. But it is equally important to inform consumers about the risks associated with its use.
According to the survey data, 39% of the respondents rated acute and enduring adverse effects of Psilocybin among the top five most challenging experiences of his/her lifetime. Eleven percent put self or others at risk of physical harm during their difficult or challenging experience (i.e., a “bad trip”). There were also three cases of attempted suicide.
But, that said the rates of adverse effects after psilocybin use have been fund to be very low relative to adverse effects associated with other psychoactive drugs, according to the survey data.