A new study published in the journal Health Affairs shows a significant reduction in prescription painkiller use as well as other prescribed drugs in states where medical marijuana has been legalized. 

Midwestern states have adopted a variety of intervention strategies designed to combat the opioid epidemic and manage the risks associated with injection drug use. These harm reduction efforts include syringe exchange programs; medication-assisted therapy; overdose prevention; public education campaigns; and policies and laws designed to enhance collaboration among advocates, law enforcement and health care professionals.

In a key action to increase access to medication assisted treatment for persons addicted to opioid drugs, this week the Department of Health and Human Services released a final regulation to allow physicians to increase from 100 to 275 the number of patients for whom they can prescribe buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is one of three FDA-approved medications to treat addiction. It is addictive and can be abused. Sometimes it is combined with naloxone, sold under the brand name Suboxone, to decrease its euphoric  properties. Buprenorphine is covered by state Medicaid programs, although certain restrictions and time limits may exist in some states. 

On June 8, Ohio Governor Kasich signed into law the Medical Marijuana Control Program (House Bill 523), making it the 25th state to legalize medicinal marijuana.

The suicide rate from 1999 to 2014 increased by 24 percent, from 10.5 per 100,000 to 13 per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. That represents an increase of 1 to 2 percent per year, affecting almost every state and demographic.Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The deaths represent on average 113 suicides per day and more than 41,100 lives each year, at a cost to the U.S. economy of more than $51 billion dollars annually in lost work and medical costs.

On June 2, 2016, Alaska became the 11th state to limit the sale of cough and cold medicines containing dextromethorphan to consumers age 18 and older. Found in common over-the-counter drugs like Robitussin and NyQuil, dextromethorphan is abused in the highest rates by children aged 12-17.

Suicide rates are climbing in the United States—a recent study showed the age-adjusted rate increased 24 percent from 1999 to 2014—and suicide is among the leading causes of death for young people. Many state leaders are working to end the suicide trend by adopting training requirements for schoolteachers.

Kratom, the popular name for leaves of the mitragyna speciosa tree, is a botanical supplement that has grown in popularity and usage across the United States in the last few years.  Originating from Southeast Asia and sold in gas stations, ‘head shops’ , and through a variety of online vendors, kratom has gained an array of users who seek it’s mood elevating and pain reducing properties.  In addition to the rise in popularity of kratom, it has increasingly caught the attention of state lawmakers concerned about possible negative consequences associated with unregulated sale of the non-FDA approved plant.

Annual observation created to raise awareness of mental illness and mental health offers a catalyst for making changes in the criminal justice system.

HIV and Hepatitis C, both highly infectious diseases, continue to spread in some states and among some parts of the population. Several states introduced legislation in 2015 and 2016 that explicitly allows needle exchange programs as a means to prevent and control potential public health crises.

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