Overdose Risks Higher During Pandemic

A recent article from NPR highlighted new risks for drug users who are struggling to find legitimate drugs during the pandemic. People hoarding supplies and illicit supply drying up due to COVID-19 restrictions have led to an increase in overdoses, with many of them deadly. Why Are People Overdosing More? One of the reasons opioid use has become more dangerous is the halting of the supply. Fewer drugs mean more customers for street dealers. Sometimes, they can’t get it from their “regular guy” and must try somebody new. There are no standard formulations for illicit street drugs—some users overdose due to a different, more potent formulation than they are used to using. Other drug users may end up with a pill that’s laced with fentanyl, a drug that’s 50 to 100 times stronger than Morphine. Most people who seek out opioids on the street can’t tolerate such a high threshold; fentanyl is one of the primary causes of a deadly overdose in America today. Drug Influx Halted, But It’s…

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Is the Opioid Crisis Worse Than We Thought?

New research on the opioid crisis published by Addiction journal shows that the opioid epidemic’s numbers are as much as shows that overdose deaths might be as much as 28% higher than previously reported. A significant number of deaths may have been left out of reporting for several years. Where Are The Unreported Deaths? In Alabama, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Indiana, the actual final numbers of deaths may have been previously underreported by as much as 50%. Nearly 72% of “unclassified drug overdoses” that occurred between 1999-2016 involved prescription opioids, heroin, or fentanyl. However, due to the victims having other drugs in their systems, they are marked as “unclassified”, even if it’s most likely that the opioids killed that person. For example, a person with Oxycontin and marijuana in their system might have their death left unclassified, even if it’s very unlikely that marijuana killed them. All in all, the number of unclassified deaths during the opioid crisis was estimated at 99,160. These deaths remain unclassified due to swamped coroner’s…

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Opioid Victims, Families Can Begin Suing Purdue Pharma

A federal judge has decided that victims of the opioid epidemic have the right to sue Purdue Pharma for damages, but all claims must be filed by June 30, 2020. This is when the company will begin its bankruptcy proceedings. Purdue has also reached a settlement with a portion of some states and local governments. Although the settlement amount has not been disclosed, it’s been reported that it could be worth more than $10 billion. The presiding Judge, Robert Drain, says it’s important to note that an official amount for settlement has not yet been reached. What is Purdue Settling For? Purdue Pharma has faced hundreds of lawsuits accusing them of creating the opioid epidemic that has killed tens of thousands of Americans in the past several years. They are accused of using coercive marketing tactics with doctors, even though they knew there were addictive properties in their opioids like Oxycontin. They often would encourage doctors to “titrate up” patients, even though the level of pain medication prescribed to…

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Parents Who Use Marijuana Likely Have Kids Who Use It, Too

Years ago, anti-drug commercials issued a warning to people that kids often follow in their parents' footsteps when it comes to drug use. Much of the anti-drug commercials from that era are considered to be propaganda. A new study finds that parents that smoke weed also have teens that smoke it, and the teens are more likely to use other substances as well. Marijuana use in the United States is increasing with laws that end the prohibition of the substance. For many people, marijuana is just one drug that they use, making authorities worried that this will be true for the teens that use marijuana today. What Was in this Marijuana Study? The study followed the parents as well as their offspring, including the drug use of 24,900 fathers and mothers. The study found that parental marijuana use was associated with increased risk of marijuana, nicotine, and opioid misuse by both adolescent and young adults. Young people were also more likely to abuse alcohol at earlier ages if their…

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Richmond Tests “First Responders for Recovery” Program

In recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day, Richmond Virginia launched a new program meant to save the lives of people struggling with addiction. The Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) and Richmond City Health District (RCHD) announced the new initiative, dubbed “First Responders for Recovery”. The program, modeled as an evidence-based program, helps people struggling with substance use by connecting them to local recovery resources. The program uses a Peer Recovery Specialist named Courtney Nunnally. Courtney herself is a person in recovery. She’s been inspired to help others who struggle and offer them some hope.  “This program is a way for me to give others hope and a path to recovery and I really believe it will save lives.” What Do “First Responders for Recovery” Do? As a Peer Recovery Specialist, Courtney offers a unique perspective to EMTs and paramedics and EMTs. When a person overdoses, they are often feeling vulnerable and need guidance. They may be receptive to trying to get clean and sober, but overwhelmed or without the resources…

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U.S. Justice Department Joins Suboxone Lawsuit

The U.S. Justice Department has joined a lawsuit alongside several whistleblowers that alleges that the companies marketed off-label and higher dosages than approved, as well as other deception. Several ex-workers are in the process of suing on behalf of the government, as whistleblower laws allow. It appears the government is now up to speed on the wrongs listed in lawsuits against Indivior Plc. and Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC, both involved in marketing the opioid addiction treatment Suboxone. What is the Lawsuit About? One of the complaints unsealed on Aug. 2 was filed by former Reckitt employee Ann Marie Williams, claiming that the companies marketed unapproved dosages and uses of Suboxone and Subutex. Williams Reckitt made misleading claims to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to obtain approval for a dissolvable film version of Suboxone. The lawsuits were filed under the False Claims Act, a law that allows whistleblowers to sue companies on the government’s behalf. Now it seems the government is willing to intervene in the cases as well,…

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Dark Web Drug Dealers Say They’ve Banned Fentanyl

Owners of websites on the dark web say that they’ve decided to voluntarily ban fentanyl, according to the National Crime Agency based in the UK. The “open air” online drug outlets have done this in a bid to avoid additional scrutiny as reports from the US, and the UK show that fentanyl is now causing the most overdose deaths each year. In the UK alone, 180 deaths in 18 months were attributed to fentanyl, while in the US, fentanyl overdoses doubled in 2016 to outpace heroin and Oxycontin. Several large drug-dealing websites have also quietly“de-listed” fentanyl because they don’t want to be investigated when there is an overdose death, according to Vince O’Brien, an investigator at the UK National Crime Agency. So-called dark web markets have popped up in recent years and have become a reliable source for drug dealers to get their supply. Users place an order using bitcoins, which allow some anonymity when both are buying and selling the products. Many opioids are sold in powder form…

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Pharm Companies Search for Safer Pain Relief Solutions

The addiction epidemic in America is still raging, with a record 72,000 overdose deaths according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control for 2017. The pharmaceutical industry has been slow to respond to the numbers. However, the increased scrutiny has made the industry do a double-take regarding profitability. With lawsuits stemming from nearly every state in the US, profits for opioids seem to be on a steady decline. And with the decrease in prescribing, doctors have worried that legitimate chronic pain patients will be left without treatment. New research is now in progress to find new pain drugs that prevent chronically ill people from being neglected or left behind due to opioid unavailability. Multiple research groups have been tasked with the creation of less dangerous and less addictive opioid development. While they also are focusing on changing the opioids to make them less harmful, they are also looking at opioid alternatives. This is important to note because historically, Big Pharma has downplayed the addictive nature of opioids, and…

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South Carolina Announces Emergency Response Plan for Opioids

Last Wednesday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced that he had created a state emergency response plan to tackle the chronic and ongoing opioid epidemic. The plan was created with the input of more than 24 organizations and outlines strategies to support state and local efforts. In December 2017, Gov. McMaster first began formulating a plan to combat opioids by issuing a public health emergency. The governor's emergency declaration brought together state officials, private partners, and law enforcement to utilize the emergency management infrastructure to combat the growing epidemic or opioid deaths, addiction, and abuse. The new plan calls for better record-keeping in the medical community and addiction-related opioid training. Physicians will be expected to have opioid-informed conversations with their patients and understanding other pain treatment options. This should help raise awareness of the dangers of opioid use, and help physicians prevent and respond to opioid use disorder. The plan also involves adding treatment and recovery options, increasing resources to combat illicit opioid supply chains, and other actions that…

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Opioid Ravaged States Turn to Addiction Outreach

Sometimes simple actions are powerful in the fight against opioid addiction. Across the US, programs meant to help people with substance abuse disorders have cropped up on a local level. One such way is through outreach programs in some of the areas where opioid addiction rages. An innovative addiction outreach program in Dover, New Hampshire reaches out to people, both clean and trying to get clean, and asks them how they’re doing. The program, aptly named the Telephone Recovery Support service (TRSS), says they make over 200 phone calls every week to support people who can’t make it to meetings or are unable to get a bed in treatment. TRSS volunteers make phone calls to people who can’t get out to one of the recovery centers or other meetings with their peers. Some people who can’t get out are homebound for legal reasons, while others may be paralyzed by anxiety. Some may not be able to get across town. There are people from all walks of life who need…

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