This blog was written by our colleague Eric Dawson, PharmD. He’s the Vice President of Clinical Affairs at Millennium Health. Dr. Dawson is keenly aware of the issues of drug misuse and addiction. He is passionate about educating clinicians on the topic and has given many lectures to pharmacists, nurses, and physicians.

Drug overdoses – most of them attributable to the powerful synthetic opioid, fentanyl – kill more than 105,000 people in America each year. That makes overdoses the eighth biggest killer of Americans.  

What’s worse, we are “fighting the overdose crisis blindfolded” according to Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Here’s why: Most public health officials, clinicians, and others focused on preventing overdose deaths are utilizing data that is six months old or older.  

They’re relying on less than current data on overdose deaths to inform current prevention strategies – but the drug overdose epidemic is constantly changing. “This approach is insufficient in an ever-evolving drug market with more potent substances driving increases in overdose deaths and the urgent need to mount interventions to prevent them,” Volkow says. She’s right. 

As with other catastrophes and health epidemics, a timely warning can make a tremendous difference.  

The Millennium Health Signals Report aims to provide this timely warning by tracking current and critical changes in drug use across this country. At Millennium Health, we specialize in clinical drug testing. We serve clinicians and their patients in all 50 states, and because we process thousands of urine drug tests each day, we can very accurately monitor patterns of drug use, like those presented in the Signals Report.  

Of critical interest, we’ve demonstrated that our definitive urine drug test results closely correlate with overdose deaths. These data reflect current fatal overdose deaths and can inform efforts to respond to the fentanyl crisis in ways that can help curtail these deaths.  

Millennium Health’s annual Signals Report, this year titled “The 4th Wave – The Rise of Stimulants and the Evolution of Polysubstance Use in America’s Fentanyl Crisis”, serves as a wake-up call that the use of methamphetamine has reached an all-time high in people who are using fentanyl, adding fuel to America’s fentanyl crisis.   

In addition to evaluating the rise of stimulants, the report also describes the current polysubstance use landscape – one in which a diverse array of dangerous drugs is being used at high rates making treatment of those with SUD as challenging as any time in history.  In our next blog, we’ll detail the results of the Millennium Health Signals Report.  It’s one you will not want to miss.   

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