Addiction & Mental Health News, Aug. 31

Associated Press: Expecting mothers’ opioid use may stunt kids’ learning
New study says children whose mothers used opioids while pregnant commonly face learning disabilities and other special education needs.

The Atlantic: A Simple Reason So Many Older Americans Are Overdosing on Opioids
By Lolade Fadulu
A recent poll suggests many doctors aren’t warning elderly patients of the risks when prescribing painkillers.

Vox: Why some US cities are opening safe spaces for injecting heroin
By German Lopez
From New York City to San Francisco, several US cities now plan to open safe injection sites. The federal government isn’t happy.

Scientific American: Should Fatal Opioid-Related Drug Overdoses Be Classified as Suicides?
By Rachel Bluth
Too often opioid-related drug overdoses aren’t classified as suicides, and some researchers think they should be. These deaths are often deemed by medical examiners as “accidental injury deaths” unless a suicide note is found. This classification doesn’t take into account that suicide and drug overdoses both arise from “purposeful” behaviors.

The New York Times: Snaring Doctors and Drug Dealers, Justice Dept. Intensifies Opioid Fight
By Katie Benner
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced another crackdown on Wednesday on opioids, targeting doctors and drug dealers alike in cases that spanned physicians’ offices in Ohio, drugmakers in China and online black markets.

The Boston Globe: Rules to control opioid prescribing don’t always work as intended, studies say
By Felice J. Freyer
Faced with a soaring death toll from opioid-related overdoses, federal and state policymakers in recent years have enacted measures intended to keep doctors from prescribing too many opioid painkillers. But two studies published in the journal JAMA Surgery suggest that such well-intentioned efforts sometimes don’t have the desired effect.

NPR: Poll: Most Americans Know About Opioid Antidote And Are Willing To Use It
By Scott Hensley
The NPR-IBM Watson Health Poll asked people if they would be willing to use Narcan, the nasal spray form of naloxone, to help a person who had overdosed. Fifty-eight percent said they would and 29 percent said no. Thirteen percent weren’t sure or didn’t respond. Only 47 percent of people 65 and older said they would be willing to do it.

NPR: The Role Of Lawsuits In Addressing The Opioid Crisis
States are battling the pharmaceutical industry in court to curb the opioid epidemic. NPR’s Jennifer Ludden asks Richard Ausness, a law professor at the University of Kentucky, about the tactic.

The Washington Post: Rash of overdoses show dangers of powerful synthetic drugs
By Katie Zezima, Lenny Bernstein and Samantha Schmidt
The ever-rising death toll from the synthetic opioid fentanyl shows how vulnerable the United States has become to powerful drugs concocted in laboratories.

CNN: Trump tells Sessions to sue certain opioid companies
By Jeremy Diamond
The Justice Department has joined state lawsuits against opioid companies that officials believe have helped fuel a national opioid crisis, Sessions said, but Trump said he would like the Justice Department to pursue a separate federal lawsuit against certain drug companies. Trump did not specify which companies he would like the Justice Department to sue.