Tag Archives: opioid epidemic

Heroin Overdoses Among Young Adults

heroin

Researchers from the University of Michigan conduct the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey every year. The answers that high school students give, provide experts a window into the severity of teen substance use and abuse. The findings can help direct preventive measures in the coming years. The 2016 MTF presented some promising findings, especially regarding prescription opioid use among young people. In fact, past year prescription opioid use among 12th graders dropped 45 percent, compared to five years ago.

The findings are a good sign that we may see reductions in opioid use among 20 something-year-olds in the coming years, an age group that as of late has been using both heroin prescription opioids at alarming rates. The dangers of using opioids of any kind need to be reinforced in young people early on and repeatedly. If preventative measures fall short, more and more young people will succumb to hooks and snares of opioid narcotics. Unfortunately, identifying the groups of people at greatest risk of opioid use initiation isn’t an easy task, partly due to stereotyping.

Heroin Outside City Limits

Heroin, like “crack cocaine,” is often considered to be a drug that primarily wreaks havoc in the inner city. A drug that is used by downtrodden and impoverished Americans. While there is a lot opioid abuse in urban areas, the situation has changed. In recent years, the opioid addiction epidemic has predominantly affected suburban and rural parts of the country. Additionally, many of the young people abusing heroin today, come from white middle class or affluent families. These are young people who have access to financial resources that make it easier to maintain an addiction.

But, even with more resources than the average person of the same age, what often starts as a prescription opioid problem can quickly morph into a heroin problem. The reasons are simple. The price of drugs like OxyContin has only gone in one direction—up! Heroin on the other hand is cheaper, and in many cases, stronger than prescription opioids. Easier to acquire, as well.

One of the unintended consequences of this prescription opioid epidemic has been the increase in heroin addiction and overdoses, in part due to the transition from prescription opioids to less expensive heroin street drugs,” California state health officials report. “Heroin deaths have continued to increase steadily by 67 percent since 2006 and account for a growing share of the total opioid-related deaths.”

In the first quarter of 2016, 412 adults age 20 to 29 went to emergency departments in California due to heroin, according to Los Angeles Daily News. Los Angeles and Orange counties have seen a continued increase in ER cases involving heroin among people in their twenties.

Spotting the Signs

If you have a child in their twenties, frequently they are still living at home, as many Millennials do. But if you have never used an opioid, there is a good chance you would not be able to spot the signs of use. And it isn’t like your child is just going to use right in front of you. So how can you identify signs of a problem? In some cases, you may see track marks from IV heroin use. However, many young heroin addicts do not use needles, opting to smoke or snort the drug. In which case, track marks will not be a signpost you can rely on.

Common signs of opioid use, include:

  • Tiny Pupils
  • Nodding Off
  • Slurred Speech
  • Incessant Itching
  • Complaints of Constipation
  • Diminished Appetite

There are other signs, but those listed are synonymous with opioid use. If you see any of those appearances or behaviors, there is a good chance there is a problem. Such discoveries should prompt further investigation. You can always confront your child about the signs you are seeing, but getting an honest answer is easier said than done. Addiction will lead people to do or say just about anything to continue fueling the fire.

You can also ask if they would be willing to take a drug test. If they refuse, that’s a pretty good sign that you are on the right track. The best results for getting your child into treatment often come by way of interventionists. They are skilled professionals who can help walk you through the process of saving your child’s life.

PACE Recovery Center Can Help

If you know, or suspect that your young adult son is using heroin or prescription opioids, please contact us as soon as possible. With so many young people succumbing to heroin addiction, time is of the essence.

Addiction Epidemic, Not Opioid Epidemic

addiction epidemicThe American opioid epidemic may be misleading to some people. While prescription painkillers and heroin are both addictive and carry the potential for overdose death, the U.S. is not actually in the midst of an opioid drug epidemic. We are, in fact, in the grips of an addiction epidemic. Case in point: Efforts to limit access to prescription opioids have had the effect of making it harder to acquire certain drugs, but people are still dying at unprecedented rates. Why? The answer being that the epidemic we face is not the disease of drugs, but rather the disease of addiction—a debilitating mental illness.

Remove every drug from the equation, and the mental health disorder known as addiction will live on. We could take it even further, arguing that the crisis we actually face is the epidemic of untreated addiction. And if that is the case, it is hard to compare the problem we see to epidemics of the past, such as the AIDS epidemic.

A Waxing or Waning Epidemic

The field of epidemiology, much like addiction, is not an exact science. Experts have a good understanding of both, but there are no guarantees which way things will go. Will the epidemic wax or wane, will the recovering addict continue to improve or will they relapse? Questions that are hard to answer. Attempts to curb the opioid use disorder epidemic stealing lives across the country are extensive, and multifaceted.

  • The adoption of prescription drug monitoring programs for combatting “doctor shopping.”
  • Revising provider opioid prescribing practice guidelines.
  • Expanding access to the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone.
  • The most important effort of all, increasing access and funding for addiction treatment services across the nation.
The last effort is the most significant. It is the only tactic that addresses the root problem, rather than just the symptoms of addiction, i.e. dependence and overdose. Making painkillers harder to acquire or abuse will only serve to force opioid addicts to find their drugs elsewhere. Naloxone can save lives, but it cannot cure addiction. Treatment is the most effective measure for ending the opioid use disorder epidemic.

Hope On the Horizon

The severity of the American opioid epidemic can be most easily gauged by the death toll associated with abuse, as opposed to opioid addiction rates. If the death toll increases, efforts are not having the desired effect. On the other hand, if fewer people die in any given year, one could argue that the measures implemented have been effective. With opioid overdoses surpassing traffic fatalities, you might think that the crisis is as bad as ever. However, the big picture may tell another story altogether.

Using epidemiological models, researchers believe that there may be an end in sight. At least regarding opioid overdose death rates. A couple of years back, a group of researchers from Columbia University used what is known as Farr’s Law to develop projections regarding the epidemic. Looking at overdose death rate data from 1980 to 2011, it showed that 2016-17 would be the height of the opioid epidemic. According to the models developed using Farr’s Law, the death rate should line up with that of the 1980’s by the year 2034. However, the authors warn:
Although the method we applied originated from studies of infectious diseases, it is unknown whether Farr’s Law applies to epidemics of a non-infectious origin. It is plausible that a non-communicable disease, such as drug overdose, can follow infectious patterns...Mortality data over the next two decades will ultimately test the accuracy of our projections. If the drug overdose epidemic is indeed waning, it may imply that the intensified efforts in recent years, such as enhanced prescription drug monitoring, are working and should be continued.”


Can We See the Forest for the Trees?

It would be nice if their projections hold true. Every life saved is a step in the right direction, even if efforts fail to address the underlying cause of the epidemic—addiction. But if we accept that addiction, while in fact a disease, is something quite different than other health conditions, there is really no way of knowing how things will go. What we can bet on is that expanding access to addiction treatment is a sure way of seeing results. All other efforts are likely to only produce superficial results, merely scratching the surface of the greater problem that is an addiction epidemic.

The greatest life-saving potential can be found in treatment centers and the rooms of recovery for continued maintenance. If you or loved one is in the grips of opioid addiction, please contact PACE Recovery Center.

PAARI: Addiction “Angel Programs”

PAARIIt has been nearly 20 years since the beginning of the American opioid epidemic, the greatest public health crisis of modern times. With the continued overdose death rates now at an all-time high, and scores of people being denied access to substance use disorder treatment, it may be time to stop and ask some vital, albeit hard, questions to answer. And at the top of the list is: What have we learned?” Of course, that question could be succinctly answered in a number of ways, for instance: we have learned that our reliance on prescription opioid painkillers is alarming, unparalleled in any other country. We have learned that making it harder to acquire prescription opioids has the unintended effect of fueling a demand for heroin, a drug that is often stronger and cheaper than prescription opioids. Perhaps the most import knowledge gained by battling an epidemic for two decades, something that addiction professionals have been arguing for since time immemorial, is the fact that we cannot arrest our way out of the opioid epidemic—treatment is the answer.

Providing Access to Addiction Treatment

Previously we have written about the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), a bill that was passed which aims to, among other things, provide access to addiction treatment to the millions of Americans who need it. The bill, at the end of the day, is a perfect example of what can be achieved when lawmakers put their differences aside for the good of the country. However, there are many experts who believe that the bill lacks adequate funding for all the programs the legislation calls for, leading to a letter written to Congress and Senate by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The letter aims to persuade the same lawmakers who passed the bill to fully fund CARA. Hopefully, action will be taken to ensure that happens. CARA, adequate funding or not, is still a step in the right direction, a move that will surely aid some people in receiving the help they need. There is a new bill that was approved in the U.S. House of Representatives this week, known as the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill will likely be approved in the Senate as well, according to USA Today. While the bill is not without criticism, due to some glaring signs of impropriety, the legislation would provide $1 billion in new funding over the next two years for opioid addiction prevention and treatment. With 2017 just around the corner, millions of Americans are hoping to reap the benefits of both CARA and the Cures Act, but in the meantime, opioid addicts continue the fight for access to treatment. And in some cases, both lawmakers and law enforcement have come up with some novel ideas for providing treatment, and just like addiction recovery, it all starts with surrender.

PAARI: “Angel Program”

As lawmakers continue to argue over how to fund addiction treatment, in some parts of the country local law enforcement agencies have resorted to a novel idea: Encourage opioid addicts to come to the police station and surrender their narcotics without fear of punishment, in turn the police will link the addicted individuals with addiction treatment services. In 2015, officials in Gloucester Massachusetts created the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI), otherwise known as the “Angel Program.” The initiative was so successful that it has spread throughout the country, with 160 police-based programs nationwide, and more to follow. PAARI has released its first annual report, with some promising results:
  • More than 400 Gloucester individuals have been helped into treatment by the Police Department
  • Nationwide, thousands more have been helped by other Police Departments.
  • PAARI communities have seen a 25 percent reduction in crimes associated with addiction.
  • More than 5,000 doses of nasal naloxone have been distributed.
  • PAARI can be found in more than 20 states, working hand in hand with more than 300 treatment centers.

Working with Young Adult Men

Here at PACE, we have a multi-pronged approach to our men's addiction treatment program and philosophy because we understand that our clients are complex beings. Having a place where men can delve into their underlying issues, which have caused them to resort to substance use and self-defeating behaviors, is the core philosophy of PACE.

Total Cost of The American Opioid Epidemic

opioid epidemicIs it possible to quantify the true impact of the American opioid epidemic? The unprecedented health crisis has left people in the public and private sector scrambling to find desperately needed solutions. With each day that passes—more Americans become dependent on opioids—more people lose their lives to overdose. And while efforts to curb the scourge of opioid addiction in the U.S. have had some effect, without a paradigm shift in thinking regarding prescription opioids—the problem will only continue to disrupt the country. While it is easy for us to look at the staggering death toll to stress the seriousness of the issue, it is important that we all take stock of the societal costs of opioid addiction. With over 2 million Americans living with an opioid use disorder and over 70 people paying the ultimate price for their addiction every day, there is an exponentially greater number of family members who have been affected by the epidemic. It may be impossible to compute the amount of heartache and pain that family members will endure for years, especially if they lost someone to an overdose.

The Cost Of An Epidemic

As you might imagine, there is a heavy price tag attached to the opioid epidemic. The bulk of the cost, naturally, is tied to the burden put on the health care system—whether it be to cover insurance claims for hospitalizations or treatments, or keeping babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) stable—the overall cost of the opioid scourge is daunting to think about. In fact, new research estimates that the epidemic cost is $78.5 billion annually, Newswise reports. Of that estimate, health care accounts for about one-third (over $28 billion) of the total cost. The findings will be published in next month's issue of Medical Journal. Even when opioid use disorder does not result in hospitalization or loss of life from overdose ($21.5 billion), there are other costs to consider as well. Those who are addicted to opioids are often too sick to get to work or hold down a job. The researchers found that loss of productivity accounts for about $20 billion, according to the article. Almost two-thirds of the total economic cost could be attributed to:
  • Health Care
  • Addiction Treatment
  • Lost Productivity
"The costs that we can identify, however, do help increase our understanding of the impact of the epidemic," the researchers conclude. "These estimates can assist decision makers in understanding the magnitude of adverse health outcomes associated with prescription opioid use such as overdose, abuse, and dependence."

Worth The Cost Of Treatment

It is worth pointing out that of the more than $28 billion spent on health care, $26 billion was covered by insurance companies, the article reports. It was not that long ago that it was extremely difficult to get insurance companies to cover mental health disorder treatment, i.e. extended stays at addiction treatment facilities. While there is still a lot more that insurance companies can do to help people with addiction issues, it is good to see that insurance companies are finally insuring people with a history of addiction and paying for some of the bill to help them find recovery. Research overwhelmingly supports addiction recovery services as being the best weapon against the opioid epidemic. Prescription opioids and heroin are extremely difficult to withdraw from and the chance of relapse is especially high among opioid addicts; while those who go to a substance use disorder treatment center have the best chance of achieving sustained recovery in the long run. If you or a loved one is battling opioid addiction, please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin the journey of recovery.

Generation Found: ‘Just Say No’ Was a Slogan

generation foundIf you were an adult or a child in elementary school in the 1980’s, it is likely that you remember the saying: “Just Say No to Drugs.” It was an advertising campaign, part of the “War on Drugs” in America, designed to teach kids a way they could turn down offers from their peers to try illegal drugs. It is likely that you also remember Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E., a program that was offered to students of various ages in the United States beginning in 1983. The organization, yet another tool used in this country's War On Drugs, educated adolescents on the dangers of illegal drug use and asked the students to sign a pledge that they would abstain from drugs or gangs. Both of the aforementioned efforts to prevent adolescent drug use were met with serious criticism, and were considered to be widely ineffective. While efforts to curb the use of addictive drugs by teens and young adults is crucial, the picture that has long been painted about drug use and addiction has been wholly inaccurate. In a number of ways, “Just Say No”…, D.A.R.E. and even This Is Your Brain on Drugs only served to further stigmatize addiction as being a moral failing. Today, while programs like D.A.R.E. still exist, the picture we have of addiction is quite different. As is evident by the American opioid epidemic, no matter who you are or where you came from—the risk of addiction is real. Everyone carries some level of eligibility.

Bringing Addiction Into The Light

The opioid epidemic in the United States has forced lawmakers, health professionals and the common citizen to reevaluate addiction. With thousands of people dying every year from opioid overdoses, it is clear that the nation can no longer hold onto War On Drugs rhetoric. Effective science-based, compassionate efforts are vital if we are ever going to stem the tide of addiction. The War On Drugs cannot be won, and addiction is not going anywhere. It is paramount that every tool of addiction recovery be made available to all who require them, only by helping people recover from substance use disorder will the demand for such drugs decrease. Despite all the options available for people suffering from addiction, many Americans hesitate to seek help—especially teenagers and young adults. Asking for assistance is at times viewed as accepting that you have a weakness that cannot be controlled. Those who do manage to surrender and seek treatment, often find that staying sober when they are back in the real world is an insurmountable task. They often feel that they are find their way out of the frying pan, only to land in the fire. One American community has taken a novel approach to ensuring that young people with addiction disorders, have a shot at sustained recovery.

Generation Found

‘Just say no’ was a slogan. This is a revolution. A sentiment shared by the creators of a new documentary called Generation Found. The film tells the story of a community in Houston, Texas, that developed the world’s largest peer-driven youth and family recovery community. Generation Found is the story of how a “system of treatment centers, sober high schools, alternative peer groups, and collegiate recovery programs can exist in concert to intervene early and provide a real and tested long-term alternative to the War On Drugs.” Please take a moment to watch the trailer: If you are having trouble watching, please click here. If you are in the Orange County, CA, area on August 30, 2016, there will be a showing of Generation Found at Island Cinema, at 7:30PM. You can learn more about the film here, reserve tickets, find a showing in your area or plan a showing in your area.

Addiction Recovery Requires Assistance

addictionThose of you who have ever spent time in 12-Step meeting, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and/or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), are probably aware that a number of people found their way to addiction recovery via the legal system. Over the last several decades people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or possessing an illegal narcotic are commonly required to attend 12-Step meetings.

From Incarceration to Recovery

While many of the people who are mandated to go to recovery meetings are only doing so to fulfill an obligation, a significant number of people hear something said that resonates and they decide to give recovery a shot. Another group of people with substance abuse disorder find their way on the road of recovery while they are behind bars—serving time for a felony drug conviction. Despite the fact that the recidivism rates for felony drug offenders is nothing short of staggering, there are some who are tired of living in the insidious cycle of addiction and manage to work a program of recovery while incarcerated. It becomes a new way of life which they plan to embrace and continue to work at after their release. Unfortunately, the odds of success outside prison walls are low, partially due to the fact that the options for felony drug offenders are limited. If you are working a program of recovery, it is likely that you are no stranger to the feeling of hopelessness—and you are probably aware that such feelings can lead to relapse. In fact, in many states across the country, those who are released from a penal institution after serving time for a felony drug offense, find that there they are not eligible to state assistance programs. Such benefits do not apply to people with the aforementioned past, yet those same people often require such services more than anyone when you consider the fact that it can be hard for a felon to find work. Without work, being able to afford sustenance is difficult to say the least.

A Second Chance

In recent years, lawmakers have begun to sing a different tune regarding addiction in light of the American opioid epidemic. It seems like that with each day that passes, Americans become more accepting of the idea that addiction is mental health disorder rather than a moral failing. The paradigm shift in thinking has led to changes in mandatory minimum sentencing laws for nonviolent drug offenders; therefore, giving addicts the option of treatment over jail time. Moving away from draconian drug sentencing laws has lead the current White House administration to commute 562 sentences since 2008. The vast majority of those incarcerated were serving time for nonviolent drug offenses, some of which were serving life. But what about those who have already served their time and the felony on their record makes it next to impossible to survive in an above the board manner. Recognizing that drug felons need help upon release if the chance of recidivism is to be mitigated, a number of states have begun let up on restrictions that prohibit such people from receiving state assistance, such as food stamps, PBS NewsHour reports. Thus another move in the fight to change archaic laws that only serve to disenfranchise those whose only crime was that of addiction.
One of the best ways that someone can move on after they’ve been released from prison is their ability to eat and take care of themselves,” said Marissa McCall Dodson of the Southern Center for Human Rights.
In 1996, a federal ban went into effect that prohibited those convicted of felony drug crimes from receiving food stamps and cash assistance, according to the article. You may find it interesting to learn that the ban did not apply to all felons, just drug felons. Fortunately, states have the option of loosening up on such restrictions. And now, there are only seven states that still enforce the full ban on drug felons receiving food stamps. Those states include
  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • South Carolina
  • West Virginia

Intensive Outpatient Treatment Is An Option

PACE Recovery’s men only rehab and intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment is ideal for men that require additional support with their addiction and/or behavioral health issues. The curriculum is flexible to allow clients to continue their everyday activities, such as work, school, volunteer or family commitments. We understand the importance of helping our clients learn to manage both recovery and life’s obligations.

Opioid Epidemic and Money Laundering

opioid epidemicIt has been several years now since the federal government, and state governments alike, began making it harder to acquire prescription painkillers—opioid narcotics such as OxyContin (oxycodone) and Percocet (oxycodone / paracetamol). Drugs of that type are not only addictive, they can be downright deadly, i.e. 78 overdose deaths in America every day related to either prescription opioids or heroin. While it remains a fact that it is still quite easy for some opioid addicts to acquire painkillers (in some cases even after they experience an overdose), the latest opioid scourge sweeping across the nation is heroin. Years of over prescribing opioid painkillers caused Americans to become over reliant on this class of drugs when it comes to pain. This led to an unprecedented rate of opioid addiction, and the opening of a Pandora’s box. When it became more difficult to get such drugs from one’s doctor, faced with certain withdrawal symptoms, many opioid addicts turned to the streets for their drugs.

Prescription Opioids to Heroin

Heroin is cheaper than a tablet of oxycodone on the street, and it is typically stronger or easier to come by. Most of today’s heroin users began by using prescription opioids and then pivoted to heroin. Seeing dollar signs, Mexican drug cartels decided to take advantage of the billion dollar illicit opioid market in America. It is fair to say that cartels trafficking and selling illegal drugs north of the border is nothing new—an exchange that has been happening for nearly half a century. However, never in our history has there been such a high demand for a mind altering substance that can snatch one’s life in the blink of an eye. And if heroin wasn’t bad enough, Mexican cartels are also buying ingredients to synthesize even more powerful opioids, such as fentanyl. In recent years there has been a number of overdose deaths involving an addict who thought they were using heroin, but were actually using fentanyl. Verily, the American opioid epidemic has become a “gold rush” for Mexican drug cartels. That being said, where does all the money go and how does it get to its final destination? It turns out that the answer to that could be a way to combat the crisis we face.

American “Laundry”

A new report conducted by the nonprofit group the Fair Share Education Fund, calls upon legislators to stop allowing the use of anonymous shell companies, The Hill reports. In fact, the United States is among the countries where it is easy for criminals to set up anonymous shell companies to launder their money. Changing the laws that allow for this would make it much harder for drug traffickers to see a return. The effect could have real impact on the opioid epidemic in America.
We should use every tool at our disposal to tackle the opioid crisis, and going after the money is just such a critical tool,” says the Fair Share Education Fund.
The ease in which criminals are able to set up anonymous shell companies is one of the reasons that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) estimates that federal authorities only confiscate 1.5 percent of the money Americans spend on illicit drugs every year, according to the article. Because money can be laundered so easily, it is difficult for law enforcement officials to make cases against drug traffickers.
Authorities may have good reason to suspect someone of being involved in criminal activity,” said the group. “However, without the basic information necessary to show that a suspect is directly linked to a shell company used to facilitate illegal activity, they are unable to make their case, or run out of the time and resources needed to do so.”

Treating the Opioid Addict

Reducing access to opioid drugs, including heroin, is one important step. But treating the addict is also paramount. At PACE Recovery Center opiate and heroin addiction treatment options include psychosocial approaches, pharmacological treatment, therapeutic groups, 12-Step recovery, as well as individual and experiential therapy. Our addiction treatment staff also lead psychoeducational groups that cover the disease model of addiction, emotional management tools, relapse prevention techniques, boundaries and healthy relationships, and general life skills that help smooth the transition of clients from active addiction into life.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)

PDMPsRecently, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta wrote and published an op-ed to coincide with a special report about prescription opioids. Dr. Gupta covered a number of different aspects about the state of the American opioid epidemic and expounded on how the situation became so dire. Perhaps the most interesting aspect about the article was Gupta essentially holding doctors responsible for the market share of the crisis and calling on physicians to do their part to reverse the damage. It is important to keep in mind that there are several different factors that led to the emergence of an epidemic, and while doctors did and continue to overprescribe opioid narcotics, a multifaceted approach from lawmakers, addiction experts and doctors is essential for ending the scourge that claims over 70 lives in this country every day. It is widely accepted that Americans, enabled by doctors, have become far too reliant on prescription opioids—even for pain that could be treated by opioid alternatives. What’s more, while the the vast majority of prescription opioids are written by primary care physicians, few doctors have any opioid prescribing practices training or knowledge about addiction. On top of that, there has not been a huge push from medical organizations urging doctors to acquire the requisite training. Even the American Medical Association (AMA) is resistant to having doctors trained to prescribe responsibly. Hopefully, in the near future doctors will heed the call from Gupta to be a part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. When discussing the American opioid epidemic, the conversation typically is about how bad it is; however, it is important that we take a moment to recognize the strides that have been made in the right direction.

PDMPs

Several years ago, amidst widespread overprescribing by pain management clinics—otherwise known as “pill mills”—and rampant “doctor shopping,” the act of going to multiple doctors in a month to double and triple up on one’s prescription opioids, states began to implement what are known as prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). The programs were designed to give doctors a resource for identifying doctor shoppers and to give authorities a window into which doctors are prescribing suspiciously. PDMPs were met with resistance by some doctors, and to this day there is a significant number of them who do not utilize the resource; but, drug monitoring programs have proved to be an invaluable resource. Today, 49 states have adopted a PDMP of some kind, and there is now evidence that suggests the programs are having the desired effect. In fact, new research from Weill Cornell Medical College has found that, in the states that have implemented a PDMP, a 30 percent decrease in prescriptions for opioids and other narcotics could be seen, NBC News reports. The findings were published in the journal Health Affairs.
This reduction was seen immediately following the launch of the program and was maintained in the second and third years afterward,” writes researcher Yuhua Bao and colleagues. "Our analysis indicated that the implementation of a prescription drug monitoring program was associated with a reduction in the prescribing of Schedule II opioids, opioids of any kind, and pain medication overall.”

Uncertain Conclusions

The news is without a doubt a breath of fresh air, yet in the wake of the death of pop superstar Prince—clearly we as a nation have a long way to go. The research team believes that there could be a number of reasons for the PDMP success. The 30 percent drop in written prescriptions, according to researchers could be that PDMPs:
  • Raised awareness about opioid abuse with doctors.
  • Made doctors more cautious about writing prescriptions that can lead to dependence and addiction.
  • Caused doctors to cut back on prescriptions knowing that they were being watched.
Regardless of the reason for PDMPs causing a reduction, they have had a notable impact which indicates that efforts to curb the problem have had some success. Before PDMPs 5.5 percent of doctor’s visits involving pain management resulted in a prescription for an opioid being written, after drug monitoring programs that number fell to 3.7 percent.

Addiction Treatment

Cutting back on the number of prescriptions written is paramount, unfortunately opioid addicts who struggle to get their pills will more times than not turn to heroin as an alternative. Simply making it harder to get drugs doesn't mean that people will be free of addiction. It cannot be stressed enough just how vital addiction treatment services are to ending the epidemic in the U.S. At PACE Recovery Center, our qualified staff can assist you or a loved one in ending the cycle of addiction. We can show you how it is possible to live a healthy, productive life free from drugs and alcohol. Please contact PACE to begin the life changing journey of addiction recovery.

Prescription Addiction: Made in the USA

addictionThere is a lot of information, and unfortunately, deadly misinformation about prescription opioids circulating the internet and other major media outlets. Simply put, there is a lot that the average American adult is unaware of, and what they think they know isn’t always rooted in science. In the United States, we use the vast majority of the world’s supply of prescription opioids—despite the fact that we make only 5 percent of the world’s population. While prescription opioids are abused across the globe, America has the market share of the problem. In an attempt to shed some light on both the opioid addiction crisis and potential solutions—Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins Anderson Cooper of CNN’s "Anderson Cooper 360" for a town hall special—to discuss the prescription drug abuse epidemic in the U.S. The presentation, "Prescription Addiction: Made in the USA" airs tonight, May 11, 2016, at 9 P.M. EDT. It is likely to be more than informative and eye opening for many Americans. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a remarkable understanding about pain narcotics, addiction and how opioid addiction became a pervasive problem in the United States. The Chief Medical Correspondent wrote an op-ed published today by CNN, which covers many aspects of the epidemic. But, perhaps most intriguing is his belief that doctors were responsible for creating the scourge we face, and it will fall on doctors to spearhead efforts for ending the epidemic. Gupta writes:
The fact is, we have accepted the tall tales and Pollyannaish promises of what these medications could do for too long. As a community, we weren't skeptical enough. We didn't ask enough questions. We accepted flimsy scientific data as gospel and preached it to our patients in a chamber that echoed loudly for decades.”
He points out that while the epidemic is the result of the medical community acting on opioid prescribing recommendations they were not based on fact, doctors continue to recklessly prescribe these deadly narcotics despite knowing that the drugs should be doled out as sparsely as possible. He cites a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine which showed that 91% of opioid overdose survivors managed to obtain another prescription—usually from the physician who prescribed the narcotics the patient overdosed on in the first place. Gupta calls on prescribing physicians to:
  • Engage with patients and discuss treatment with them.
  • Set realistic expectations for patients.
  • Conduct follow-up conversations with patients to gauge treatment efficacy.
“It is not too late. In order for this American-made epidemic to finally end, however, it is the American doctors who must lead the way,” writes Gupta. Remember to tune in tonight, or catch it on DEMAND, to see CNN’s "Prescription Addiction: Made in the USA" May 11, 2016, at 9 P.M. EDT. Join in the conversation and share this family and friends. If you’d like, you can view a short trailer about the town hall meeting by clicking here.

Major Media Covers the Opioid Epidemic

opioid epidemicA number of major media outlets have taken it upon themselves, and for good reason, to shine a light on prescription opioid and heroin abuse. For over a decade now, our nation has been severely affected by the opioid epidemic, a crisis that takes over 70 lives a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While health agencies and lawmakers are working hard to increase access to both the life saving overdose reversal drug naloxone and addiction treatment, there is still a lot more that needs to be done to combat the calamity. This week, the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). If the bill passes in the House, the legislation will give the Attorneys General the power to award grants to address the national epidemics of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use. The funding will be used for strengthening a number of programs and initiatives, including: addiction education and prevention, prescription drug monitoring and treatment. CARA is just one effort among a multifaceted interagency approach to addressing the opiate epidemic. The White House, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, et al., are all committed to saving lives and providing access to substance use disorder treatment. What’s more, there is still a lot that the American public does not understand about the drug crisis and the true scope of the disease of addiction. Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) along with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released a film: “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict”. The film was created mainly for young Americans, and was essentially a call to action for the public to take part in ending the opioid epidemic. Towards the end of February, PBS aired a new "Frontline" documentary "Chasing Heroin." The film is nearly 2 hours long, and took a year to film. The documentary covers a number of elements of the epidemic, but perhaps the most interesting aspect was the coverage of how law enforcement is addressing the problem. Police officers are acting as social workers and not jail taxis, instead of slapping on the handcuffs they are referring addicts to addiction treatment services. You can watch a short clip below or watch the full documentary by clicking here. Tonight, ABC News will air a special edition of "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET. "Breaking Point: Heroin in America." The report covers the ongoing heroin epidemic in New Hampshire. “When you realize that nearly everyone you meet has been touched by the drug in some way, that’s really eye-opening,” said David Muir. “It helps begin a conversation out there, and the more we can be part of the conversation, the better.” We hope that everyone, whether the opioid epidemic has touched you or not, will take time to watch the important documentaries. We can all have a hand in the solution to this insidious problem.