Tag Archives: opiates

The White House Plan for Opiate Addiction

President Obama has explained how he wants to make a dent in the amount of prescription drug abuse in our country recently. In order to lower the amount of people addicted to drugs like Oxycontin, Vicodin, Percocet and heroin, the Administration has three main issues that it wants to address.

One of the areas is to repordedly put a greater focus on prescription monitoring drug tools. He wants to put more money towards improving and adding additional drug treatment programs around the country and he wants to explore making drugs like naloxone more available throughout the country to first responders and families with heroin addicts.

Prescription monitoring tools are essential to thwarting an addict’s attempt at obtaining medications illegally. These programs allow doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement to keep a better eye on painkiller prescriptions. For those with access to the program, they can see who is prescribed what, by whom and where they are filling their prescriptions. They also allow doctors to see if their patient has recently been to another doctor and obtained a prescription for opiates. Oftentimes, in order to evade suspicion, addicts will fill their prescriptions at different pharmacies. This tool would allow pharmacists to see if the person had recently filled the same prescription somewhere else. Many states have invested money in instituting a prescription monitoring program, however not everyone uses the tool, which essentially renders it ineffective. Obama wants to put more of a focus on getting these programs running and actually used everywhere.

More than $100 million in additional funding is being requested to fighting the drug abuse problem. Part of that money would be given to rehabilitation centers and states that need to establish more treatment beds. Many addicts have a difficult time enrolling in treatment because of the long wait lists at publicly-supported rehabilitation facilities. Creating more beds would allow greater access to treatment for people in need of help.

Naloxone is a drug that, when administered, reverses the effects of an opiate overdose. Currently some states have allowed their law enforcement officers and emergency medical personnel to carry around prescriptions of the drug to administer if they are first on the scene of an overdose. Obama wants to explore this further and potentially make carrying naloxone a national thing, rather than just a few states.

Police Executive Research Forum Holds Drug Summit in D.C.

policedrugsummitLaw officials met in Washington, D.C. last week to discuss possible solutions to the growing rates of opioid abuse across the country. The meeting was organized by the Police Executive Research Forum, a D.C. based think tank.

In many communities, heroin and prescription drugs lead to more deaths than violent crimes and car crashes. Heroin’s growing popularity can be attributed to its cheap prices, potency, and availability. Federal and local officials are noticing increasing availability and potency along with decreasing prices. Heroin costs between $4 and $20 per bag, depending on the location, making it a common drug of choice for those who have become dependent on more expensive prescription opioids.

As heroin becomes more popular, the devastation caused by the drug becomes more prevalent. Overdose deaths are on the rise. In 2012, there were 730 drug overdose deaths in New York City – nearly double the number of homicides, as reported by USA Today. Startling statistics like this have become the new norm, and officials are now planning to react to this epidemic on a larger scale.

The meeting was called in D.C. to identify heroin and prescription drug abuse as a national problem, not just something to be dealt with on the state level. Among the attendees were U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director James Comey, Drug Enforcement Administration chief Michele Leonhart and Michael Botticelli, acting director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy.

“This kind of sneaked up on us,” Holder said during the meeting, referring to heroin’s resurgence after its former popularity in the ‘50s and ‘60s. FBI Director Comey called the drug “an everywhere, everyplace kind of thing.”

Most troubling were the reports from small-town police officials with accounts of how their communities have been inundated with the highly addictive drug. Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling said it is no longer unusual to find 10,000 bags per heroin seizure.

Last weeks meeting was the first national summit of its kind on the issue. Attendees are hopeful that the summit will lay the foundation for an appropriate and effective response to the epidemic on a national level.

Naloxone-Carrying First Responders Are Saving Lives

nasalnarcanFirst responders in Quincy, Massachusetts have been trained to administer Narcan (a brand of naloxone) to people who have overdosed on opiate narcotics such as heroin, methadone and prescription painkillers. These paramedics and police officers have been able to save many lives, according to a news report.

Every police cruiser in the down is now equipped with two doses of nasal Narcan. Since they started carrying the doses, officers have used it successfully 170 out of 179 times over the past three years. The article notes that of the remaining nine, five of the people had already passed away before it was administered and the other four had used multiple substances.

Overdose deaths from opiates have increased exponentially across the country and reached nearly 20,000 per year, which is more than the number of lives lost to AIDS or homicides.

Providing safety measures such as making naloxone available to first responders nationwide could potentially help save thousands of lives per year. While this by no means is enough, many advocates, treatment professionals and policy makers feel that it is important to use as many tools as possible to prevent the loss of life through substance abuse.

Opiate users often seek treatment after an overdose, which should halt the drug use if the right program is matched up to the individual. If you know of someone in need of treatment for heroin addiction, painkillers or any other type of drug, contact us today.