Are Common Drugs to Blame for American Depression?

Are Common Drugs to Blame for American Depression? This Week in Addiction and Recovery News

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More than one-third of American adults take drugs that might trigger depression and thoughts of suicide, ABC News reported. According to a brand-new study, more than 200 common medications (including birth control pills, antacids and beta blockers for blood pressure,) are regularly taken despite their known side effects. Conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the nine-year study asked 26,000 people to report on the drugs they’d taken in the past month, and then screened them for depression.

By 2014 (the last year of the study), 38% of all US adults were taking at least one drug with adverse side effects. Seven percent of the people who used one of those drugs, the study found, suffered from depression. Depression increased with the number of drugs people took at the same time, too: nine percent of the people who took two drugs and 15% of adults who took three or more reported the condition. The researchers described their study as the first to successfully prove that when common drugs are used at the same time (termed “polypharmacy”), the risk for adverse side effects rises. “The takeaway message of this study is that polypharmacy can lead to depressive symptoms and that patients and health care providers need to be aware of the risk of depression that comes with all kinds of common prescription drugs—many of which are also available over the counter,” Dima Qato, the study’s lead researcher, said. “Many may be surprised to learn that their medications, despite having nothing to do with mood or anxiety or any other condition normally associated with depression, can increase their risk of experiencing depressive symptoms, and may lead to a depression diagnosis.”

FDA Approves First Generic Version of Suboxone

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the very first generic version of Suboxone. A film strip that dissolves under the tongue, Suboxone treats opioid addiction by reducing drug cravings, highs and withdrawal symptoms. The drug combines the overdose-reversing naloxone (more commonly known as Narcan) and buprenorphine. Manufacturers of the generic drug have yet to reveal details about its cost or when it will be available. The Post story added that brand name Suboxone comes with a monthly price tag of $200 without insurance, which means that the generic version will make opioid treatment available to far more people.

Dark Web Drug Dealer ‘Oxymonster’ Will Plead Guilty

Frenchman Gal Vallerius will plead guilty to narcotics and money laundering charges next Tuesday. Vallerius, who has a long red-brown beard, was en route to the US for a beard competition in Austin, Texas last August when DEA agents swooped in and arrested him—he was already being investigated by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. The man is accused of being one of the biggest drug kingpins on the so-called “Dark Web,” which can only be accessed by a special TOR browser. Under the alias “OxyMonster,” Vallerius sold drugs on an eBay-like website called Dream Market, which court documents describe as one of the largest marketplaces for narcotics, personal information, prescription drugs and other illegal items. One article reported that when Vallerius was arrested, there were 47,000 illegal drug listings on Dream Market. “On his laptop was the TOR browser, apparent log-in credentials for Dream Market, $500,000 worth of Bitcoin, and a PGP encryption key entitled ‘OxyMonster’ which matched that advertised as ‘OxyMonster’s’ on Dream Market,” a sworn statement from a DEA agent revealed.

Heroin Users More Likely to Contract MRSA Infections

Heroin users are “16 times more likely” than other people to contract severe illnesses from MRSA, according to CBS News. In a new study out of Vanderbilt University, researchers discovered that one kind of “superbug bacteria” is rapidly spreading among those who inject drugs. MRSA (short for “methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria”) very commonly lives on the skin without causing symptoms but can become extremely dangerous if it enters the bloodstream. In fact, US health officials claim that MRSA is responsible for as many 11,000 US deaths a year. (39,000 MRSA cases were reported between 2005 and 2016, which included nearly 2,100 people who injected drugs.) “Drug use has crept up and now accounts for a substantial proportion of these very serious infections,” said Vanderbilt University’s Dr. William Schaffner, one of the study’s authors. The report echoes similar studies that have found that HIV and Hepatitis C infections are exploding among drug users, the CBS News story said, which only adds to America’s deepening drug crisis.

‘Deadliest Catch’ Captain Found with Drugs at Time of Death

Drugs were found at the scene of former Deadliest Catch captain Blake Painter’s death, People reported. When Painter was pronounced dead at his Astoria, Oregon home on May 25, a variety of drugs were discovered near his body, including what police suspect to be heroin and meth. “Located on the couch were two pill bottles. One pill bottle was labeled Tramadol and contained the same,” the police report said, adding that the other bottle was filled with assorted pills. “On the table, I located a straw or pipe, tinfoil with brown residue and a small Altoids container,” the report continued. “Inside the Altoids container was a black substance wrapped in a tan colored plastic and white crystal substance in a small baggy.” Deadliest Catch just entered its 14th season on the Discovery Channel, chronicling the real-life events aboard fishing vessels.

Actor Vince Vaughn Charged with DUI, Resisting Arrest

Swingers and Wedding Crashers star Vince Vaughn was arrested early Sunday morning on charges of driving under the influence and resisting arrest. Variety reported that police in Manhattan Beach, California took the actor into custody at a checkpoint. Vaughn had a passenger in the car, too, who was charged with public intoxication. Both were released from jail after posting bail. While the DUI arrest is Vaughn’s first, he was arrested in 2001 while shooting the film Domestic Disturbance in Wilmington, North Carolina. The arrest stemmed from a bar brawl involving Vaughn, actor Steve Buscemi, screenwriter Scott Rosenberg and a group of locals. Buscemi was stabbed several times while Vaughn “was maced, arrested, fined, and released.”

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Paul Fuhr is an addiction recovery writer whose work has appeared in The Literary Review, The Live Oak Review, The Sobriety Collective and InRecovery Magazine, among others. He is the author of the alcoholism memoir “Bottleneck.” He's also the creator and co-host of "Drop the Needle," a podcast about music and recovery. Fuhr lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and their cats, Dr. No and Goldeneye.