Archive for June, 2015

New task force to work on youth drug/alcohol abuse

Posted on: June 26th, 2015 by sobrietyresources


A local Drug Prevention Task Force is working to receive a grant to help prevent drug and alcohol abuse in area youth. Teaming up with different groups such as the Daviess Community Hospital, Southwest Indiana Meth Alliance, the Local Coordinating Council, Samaritan Center, the task force will coordinate the effort in lowering the substance abuse problem for area youth.

“With this grant in mind and other entities, like the hospital, weighing in and being interested in pursuing preventative activities to reduce alcohol and drug abuse in the community, we thought let’s jump start this process,” said LLC member Terry Cohen.

Right now, the subcommittee is in the process of developing a prevention coalition group for the grant. The task force is going to continue this effort after the feedback received from city and county leaders.

The potential grant calls for 12 specific sectors to be represented, including: youth, parents, business, media, school, youth-serving organizations, law enforcement, religious/fraternal organizations, civic/volunteer groups, healthcare professionals, state, local, or a tribal governmental agency with expertise in the field of substance abuse, and another organization involved in reducing substance abuse.

“Requirements for the grant we are seeking is to have all the sectors filled and everything in place by Aug. 1,” said Vice President of Nursing at DCH Jennifer Huston.

Back in 2013, DCH conducted a needs assessment to identify the six top priorities, and youth drug and alcohol abuse was one area that needed addressed. Subcommittees were formed to address each of the main needs in the community.

Then, on April 13, leaders were brought together for a luncheon at DCH to focus specifically on preventative measures and trying to change the culture of the county.

The new task force is now meeting once a month to discuss a plan action to tackle the issue.

Stop the Abuse

Posted on: June 26th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

Mavuku Tokona
Tuesday, June 23, 2015,

THE National Substance Abuse Advisory Council (NSAAC) launched the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking at the Centenary Church in Suva yesterday.

A total of 26 schools invited by the Ministry of Education because of their close vicinity with the church accompanied NSAAC officials in a march against drug abuse that started at the Flea Market.

Senior adviser for health under the National Substance Advisory Abuse Josua Naisele said the purpose of the march was to create awareness of the dangers of drugs in the lives of young people, the students, the youths and the members of the public.

According to Mr Naisele, schools would hold the awareness programs throughout the week within their own premises and inviting officials from the Ministry of Health, Social Welfare or even the police as special guests to speak on drug abuse.

“We are trying our very best so the children can change their attitudes and behaviour so that when they’re tempted, they can say no. The main focus is for the students to be responsible for their own health,” Mr Naisele said.

He said at present, students were abusing cigarettes.

From marijuana and methamphetamine use to a pack of 10 or 20 cancer sticks, the NSAAC report stated smoking was the highest abused drug, followed by kava.

Methodist Church in Fiji secretary for communications Reverend James Bhagwan said: “The issues of substance abuse is something very close to the Methodist ethos.

“That’s why we have already called against the abuse of kava, abstinence from alcohol and cigarettes but the decision has to come from the individual.”

Baker announces $27 million plan to address opioid abuse epidemic

Posted on: June 26th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

Updated: Jun 22, 2015 2:56 PM PDT Boston (AP)

Massachusetts is in the midst of an epidemic of deadly opioid abuse, according to a task force created by Gov. Charlie Baker that said Monday that drug addiction must be considered a medical disease.

The governor announced a $27 million plan to battle the crisis.

<< READ: Action plan to address the opioid epidemic in the Commonwealth>>

Janis McGrory of Harwich was among those joining Governor Baker at the State House to  call for major changes to deal with the state’s opiate addiction crisis.

McGrory’s daughter is among the thousands who died of an overdose, a problem that started with prescription painkillers.

“I lost my beautiful 23-year-old daughter Liz just four years ago to an accidental heroin overdose,” she said.

McGrory appears in a public service announcement running on TV now. This is part of the recommendations the governor received from his task force on opioid abuse.

In total on Monday, he unveiled some 65 steps to fight it.

He wants to spend $27 million on education, intervention, treatment and recovery, and says he believes he can find the money.

“We’ll figure it out. I mean $27 million in a $40 billion budget, $38 billion, we’ll figure it out,” he said.

Attorney General Maura Healey, who also has made this issue a priority, says her office can target treatment centers and providers, but believes addiction is an illness.

“In Massachusetts we are not going to arrest or incarcerate our way out of this,” she said. “This is a disease this is a public health crisis and we must treat it and address it as such.

” Governor Baker said a one size fits all approach won’t work for a problem as big as this, and before he was through, he said it was a problem that has touched the lives of everyone, including him.

“Like everybody, I think I have family that almost lost somebody to this,” Baker said. “And frankly, most of us think it was an act of God that we didn’t.

” Baker also wants to add 100 new treatment beds by July of 2016, and ensure anyone who prescribes medication undergoes education for it.

Read more of the report online:

ALARMING: Substance abuse shows steady increase in Valley

Posted on: June 26th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

Author ZEENAT ZEESHAN FAZIL – Saturday, June 26, 2015 09:53


Efforts to curb it are only half-hearted even at its best!

Srinagar, June 19: Kashmir, the “Earth’s Paradise” has turned into a virtual heaven for drug addicts with increasing number of young people falling prey to substance abuse in Valley.

Even though the police, almost on daily basis, informs about the seizure of drugs by its men during raids and ‘naka’ checkings, however, as the common sense has it bulk of drugs make it to the end-users (addicts) without much hassles while only a little percentage of the actual quantity of drugs in circulation is seized by the police.

Obviously then, the amount of seizures by the police is also, in some measure, an indicator of the extent and expanse of growing drug abuse in the Valley.

The figures compiled by J&K Police reveal that in 2014, in Awantipora area of south Kashmir, police recovered 22 kgs of powdered ‘bhang’, 30 kgs of ‘Fukki’ 30 kg , 68 bottles of cough syrups containing sedatives like codeine phosphate and caffeine, 2616 Spasmoproxivan tablets 2616 and 356 Alprazolam tablets.

Similarly, in Kulgam, 42 kgs of fukki, 401 kgs of poppy straw, 1 kg and 350 gm of cannabis were recovered by the cops last year.

In Pulwama, 31 kg and 845 grams of cannabis, 200 gms of cannabis dust, 47 kg poppy, 117 kg and 500 gm ‘bhung dust’, were recovered.

In north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, around 11 kgs of brown sugar, 29 bottles of different cough syrups were recovered.

In district Ganderbal, 800 grams of cannabis, 12 bottles of cough syrups and 26.5 kgs of hemp were recovered.

Similarly, Railway Kashmir (Police Station GRP, Sgr) recovered 1 kg and 900 gms of ‘charas’ dust and 9 kgs of poppy straw.

In Handwara area of north Kashmir, police recovered around 3 kg and 400 grams of cannabis last year while in Sopore police recovered around 573 bottles of different cough syrups 647 Alprazolam tablets, and 16 intoxicating capsules.

In Bandipora, police recovered 850 gram of cannabis, 300grams of brown sugar, 216 bottles of cough syrups, and 3520 capsules of Spasmoproxivon.

Social activist, Abdul Rashid Hanjoora adds, “Now, one can imagine how much quantity of illegal crop must have gone outside the state, this is just a tip of an iceberg as what have been seized by the concerned authorities.

“Best way to curb the menace is that government needs to play clever; it must destroy narcotic crops in the early stages so that it doesn’t grow further. Concerned department can stop this illegal activity by seizing the land of those involved in the trade and of course without land illegal crop cultivators have no other option but to discontinue with it,” says an expert.

Experts say there are various reasons for drug addiction, but one of the main causes is the high level of stress among the people.

“This is a direct consequence of the conflict,” says sociologist Dr. Bashir Ahmed Dabla.

“The problem as it is today emerged in the mid-nineties when conflict was at its peak. The biggest toll of the conflict was the psyche of the people. Most of the addicts here took to drugs not for the thrill, but to relieve stress,” he says.

“Sleeping pill addiction is very dangerous,” says he, adding that it often leads to other addictions. “Doctors are also responsible since they prescribe medicinal opioids, addictive pain killers, etc., freely here,” Dabla adds.

Noted psychiatrist Dr. Mushtaq Marghoob said, “There is no doubt that there is a surge in drug addiction cases in the valley. It has reached the worst level. Opiate medicinal preparations as well as heroin abuse have become the most serious problem in Kashmir over the past few years.”

According to him, failure of authorities to prevent the accessibility to prescription drugs as well as the high levels of anxiety found among the populace because of the political instability and unemployment are the main reasons behind the current “prescription drug addiction”.

“It is very easy to get medicines

Addiction treatment hard to find, even as overdose deaths soar

Posted on: June 12th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

Liz Szabo, USA TODAY 6:02 a.m. EDT May 24, 2015

Recovering addict Mike McCrorken now works at Teen Challenge, a rehab program in New Haven, Conn.

With nearly 44,000 deaths a year, more Americans today die from drug overdoses than from car accidents or any other type of injury.

Many of these deaths could be prevented if patients had better access to substance abuse therapy, experts say. Yet people battling addiction say that treatment often is unavailable or unaffordable.

Only 11% of the 22.7 million Americans who needed drug or alcohol treatment in 2013 actually got it, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. While some of those who went without care did so by choice, at least 316,000 tried and failed to get treatment.

“We know addiction treatment saves lives, reduces drug use, reduces criminal activity and improves employment,” says Paul Samuels, president and director of the Legal Action Center, which advocates on behalf of people with HIV or addiction. “The data is there, the evidence is in, but our public policy has not caught up with the science.”

Meanwhile, the crisis is getting worse, says Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The death rate from drug overdoses more than doubled from 1999 to 2013, according to the CDC. The bulk of these deaths involve opiates, a class of pain killers that includes morphine and Oxycontin.

In 2012, physicians wrote 259 million prescriptions for pain killers, enough to give a bottle of pills to every adult in the USA, Frieden said. More than 2 million Americans abuse prescription opiates, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. About 669,000 use heroin, to which many opiate users turn when they can no longer afford pain killers.

Injection drug use has fueled an outbreak of HIV in rural Indiana, a nationwide surge in hepatitis C infections, and an increase in the number of babies born addicted to drugs. States have responded to the surge in overdose deaths by expanding access to naloxone, a fast-acting rescue drug that can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose. Indiana lawmakers also voted to allow needle exchange programs in communities facing a public health crisis related to injection drug use.

While those approaches are welcome, they don’t treat the underlying addiction, said substance abuse specialist Yngvild Olsen, medical director at Reach Health Services in Baltimore. Olsen says she would like to see the USA address addiction at earlier stages, rather than scramble to save lives when people are on the verge of death.

Mike McCrorken says he began smoking marijuana and taking pills at age 12 and graduated to heroin by age 14. His mother and stepfather often injected drugs with him.

“I tried to get help so many times growing up,” said McCrorken, of New Haven, Conn. “Getting into detox was always difficult because there were never any beds available and they would put you on a waiting list.”

The wait for a spot in a detoxification program – which help addicts get through withdrawal – ranged from days to weeks, McCrorken says. He was never able to abstain from drugs that long.

“If I had to wait, without a doubt, I was getting high,” he says.

McCrorken finally got into treatment when he was 19, after the death of his stepfather. McCrorken and his mother heard his stepfather collapse behind a locked bathroom door. McCrorken kicked the door down and found his stepfather on the floor, bleeding and unconscious from a heroin overdose.

“Before we called the police,” McCrorken said, “we did the drugs left in his pocket.”

During the worst period of his addiction, McCrorken got referred to detox for a parole violation, but the wait was always at least a few days or maybe even a few weeks, during which time he would start using again. The breaking point for him was when the man who raised him died from a heroin overdose. McCrorken and his mom (who were both addicted to heroin) didn’t call 911 until after they had finished shooting up the drugs in the man’s pockets. That was the day he decided to get help, he says. (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY)

A growing crisis

People from across the political spectrum are calling for the country to step up its fight against opiate abuse.

The Obama administration in March announced a three-part plan to combat the opiate epidemic, calling for $133 million in new spending, including an expansion of treatment with medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., has introduced legislation aimed at expanding treatment for patients, as well as educating doctors about safely prescribing opiates.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Sen. Robert Portman, R-Ohio, also have introduced a bill to expand addiction treatment, particularly therapies that use medications that reduce cravings and symptoms of withdrawal. These medications — which include methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone — block or partly block the effects of opiates.

Regular use of methadone or buprenorphine prevents people from getting high if they also take heroin or pain killers, says Kelly Clark, president-elect of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. These treatments are currently used by only a fraction of patients with opiate addictions, she said.

Medicaid programs in at least 17 states, for example, don’t pay for long-term methadone treatment, according to the Legal Action Center.

Two landmark laws aimed to expand insurance coverage for substance abuse treatment.

The Affordable Care Act requires that insurance plans include substance abuse and mental health treatment as essential benefits. A 2008 law, which took effect last year, mandates that insurers put substance abuse and mental health care on par with medical treatment.

While the number of people getting substance abuse treatment has risen in recent years, the new laws haven’t helped everyone.

A recent report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness found that patients continue to be denied care more often for substance abuse than for other medical issues.

People who need addiction treatment face a number of insurance obstacles, Clark said. Many insurance plans limit the doses of buprenorphine that patients can receive or the length of time that people can take it. Studies show that people with private insurance are three to six times less likely to receive addiction treatment than people with public insurance, such as Medicaid.

Linda Ventura said her insurance company told her that her son, Thomas, would have to “fail first” in outpatient treatment before it would pay for inpatient treatment for his heroin addiction.

“If you relapse, the insurance company says, ‘We paid for this before. We’re not paying for it again,” said Ventura, from Kings Park, N.Y. “But if you come out of remission with cancer, do they say, ‘You had four treatments. We’re not paying?'”

Ventura has become an advocate for substance abuse treatment since Thomas’ death from a heroin overdose in 2012, when he was 21.

Today, she said she’s frustrated that her insurance company made it so difficult to access her benefits, even though she paid premiums for 21 years.

“It’s as if I have breast cancer, God forbid, and my insurance company says, ‘You have a progressive, fatal disease, and we’re OK with that. We’re going to have you take vitamins and go to talk therapy.'”

Clare Krusing, a spokeswoman for American’s Health Insurance Plans, says insurers base coverage decisions on medical evidence and the recommendations of medical societies. People who disagree with an insurance plan’s rules or decisions can always file an appeal, Krusing says.

Krusing denied that insurance plans force patients to “fail first” on cheaper remedies before authorizing more expensive options. But as long as treatments are considered equally safe and effective, she says, it makes sense to try the cheaper alternative first.

Insurance hassles are only one of the barriers facing families trying to get help for substance abuse, said Emily Feinstein, director of health law and policy at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

There’s also a shortage of trained health providers. Many physicians have little to no training about treating substance abuse, Feinstein said. Some feel uncomfortable with patients dealing with addiction. Others would like to treat addiction, but can’t afford to specialize in the field full-time because insurance reimbursement rates are so low.

Even when substance abuse treatment is available, the quality of care is often low, Feinstein said. Many addiction programs use unproven therapies. According to a 2012 report from the Columbia addiction center, “only a small fraction of individuals receive interventions or treatments consistent with scientific knowledge about what works.”

The bulk of addiction treatment is provided by addiction counselors, Feinstein said. While many counselors are extremely dedicated, they don’t have medical training. In some states, they aren’t even required to have a high school diploma, Feinstein says.

Bill Williams and Margot Head of New York City ran into insurance barriers when they tried to get help for their son, William, who was addicted to heroin.

William Head Williams died at age 24 after overdosing on heroin. He’s seen here at hockey camp as a teenager, before his troubles with substance abuse began. (Photo: Bill Williams)

In October 2012, their son asked Williams to take him to a local hospital for inpatient detoxification. It was a potential turning point in their son’s life, said Williams. It was a moment when his son — teetering between life and death — chose to live. But the family’s insurance company refused to pay for the hospital stay, arguing that it wasn’t medically necessary, Williams said.

Four days later, their son overdosed on heroin and entered a persistent vegetative state. After six weeks, with no hope that their son would recover, his parents withdrew life support. He had just turned 24.

Searching for solutions

States could make it easier for people to get treatment by requiring insurance plans to offer more comprehensive coverage of addiction treatment, Feinstein said.

But the stigma of addiction leaves many Americans unwilling to fund better treatment, advocates say.

While scientists describe addiction as a brain disease, one-third of Americans say addiction is caused by a lack of will power or self-control, according to a 2008 survey by the Columbia addiction center.

Although the USA spends a lot of money on addiction — nearly $468 billion a year — the country hasn’t invested in ways that could do the most good, Feinstein said.

Only 2 cents of every dollar spent on addiction and risky substance abuse goes to prevention or treatment; the rest goes to pay for expenses such as hospital care, jails and courts, according to a 2009 report from the Columbia University addiction center.

Yet studies clearly show that prevention and treatment pay off, said Keith Humphreys, a researcher at the Department of Veterans Affairs and a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University Medical Center.

Every dollar invested in treatment saves $4 to $7 in reduced drug-related crime, criminal justice courts and thefts, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. While one year of methadone costs $4,700, a year in prison costs $18,400.

Substance abuse treatment “is a really good deal for the taxpayer,” Humphreys said. “But it shouldn’t have to be. We should do it out of humanity.”

One new study finds that hospitals are good places to begin treatment.

Many people suffering from substance abuse disorders make frequent trips to the emergency room, as their addictions harm their health.

Authors of an April study in the Journal of the American Medical Association studied the effects of using these hospital visits to prescribe buprenorphine. Doctors screened all adult patients for substance abuse, then randomly assigned them to one of a handful of interventions, including receiving buprenorphine in the ER or being referred to outside treatment.

Patients treated with buprenorphine were twice as likely to be in treatment one month later, compared to patients who were referred to drug abuse treatment outside the hospital, according to the study, led by the Yale School of Medicine.

And one small town in Massachusetts has decided to change its approach to drug use.

Like police across the country, those in Gloucester, Mass., have long treated addiction as a reason to arrest people. But it hasn’t solved the drug problem, said police chief Leonard Campanello.

“We haven’t seen any decrease in addiction as a result of penalizing people for addiction,” says Campanello, who spent seven years as a plain clothes narcotic officer.

Gloucester police now plan to treat addiction as a disease and help substance abusers get treatment, Campanello says. More than 1.7 million “liked” the decision on Facebook within the first few days after it was posted.

Beginning June 1, people who turn in drugs or needles and ask the police for help will be walked “through the system toward detox and recovery,” Campanello says. Two local clinics have agreed to fast-track these patients, so that people trying to quit drugs can get help “on the spot.”

In addition, the police department will make the drug naloxone — which can reverse an opiate overdose — available for free, without a prescription, at local pharmacies, Campanello says. Police will subsidize the cost with money seized from drug dealers.

“We are going to join the fight,” Campanello says. “We want to see whether we can turn this around.”

Heroin addict McCrorken says he also has turned his life around.

His stepfather’s death — and his despair over the type of life he’d been leading — left McCrorken suicidal.

“I felt like I was shredded inside,” he said.

McCrorken says he was fortunate that an addiction treatment group called Teen Challenge accepted him into its residential rehabilitation program. He hasn’t used drugs since. McCrorken, now 26, works for the group handling public relations.

“I get an opportunity every week and every day to share my story with people,” McCrorken said. “If had to go through that hell for this purpose, then it was worth it.”

William Head Williams and his father, Bill Williams, are seen here playing hockey. The son died of a heroin overdose in 2012. He’s seen here as a teenager, before his substance abuse began. (Photo: Bill Williams)

Some parents who have lost children to addiction have become passionate advocates for change.

Ventura traveled to the New York state capital last year to lobby for expanded treatment and addiction services. She sometimes showed up to meetings carrying her son’s ashes, pointing to them as evidence of the state’s failure. “It’s hard for a senator to look at you, when you’re holding your son’s ashes, and say, ‘I’m not going to vote for this bill,'” Ventura said. The New York State Assembly last year passed several bills to combat opiate abuse.

Williams and Head also say they’re dedicating their lives to helping others get substance abuse treatment. They have traveled to Washington three times in the past year to talk to members of Congress and share their story with anyone who will listen.

“We are determined,” Williams said, “that our son’s death will not be in vain.”

1 in 3 Americans struggle with an alcohol use disorder, says new study

Posted on: June 10th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

June 8, 2015

new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry has found that way more Americans struggle with alcoholism than we thought — almost 30 percent of adults have had an alcohol-related problem, although only a fifth of those people sought professional help.  The new statistic was found using the American Psychiatric Association’s new definition of Alcohol Use Disorder.

Vocativ’s Sarah Kaufman reports:

The third National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions include results from 36,309 face-to-face interviews with Americans between 2012 and 2013, when they were asked a series of questions based on the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. If anyone met two of the manual’s 11 criteria in the last 12 months, they would fall under the diagnose for Alcohol Use Disorder. “Emerging adulthood is becoming an increasingly vulnerable period for Alcohol Use Disorder onset,” the researchers wrote. “[The results] suggest an urgent need to develop and implement more effective prevention and intervention efforts.”

“These findings underscore that alcohol problems are deeply entrenched and significantly under-treated in our society,” said National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Director George F. Koob in a statement. “The new data should provide further impetus for scientists, clinicians and policy makers to bring AUD treatment into the mainstream of medical practice.”


Alabama begins campaign targeting prescription drug abuse

Posted on: June 10th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

By KIM CHANDLER the Associated Press

Published: Monday, June 8, 2015 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, June 8, 2015 at 11:02 p.m.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) Alabama, which has one of the country’s highest rates of prescription painkiller usage, on Monday launched a website and education effort to combat prescription drug abuse.

The Alabama Drug Abuse Task Force debuted the Zero Addiction campaign of radio and television ads and a website to direct people to treatment options.

Gov. Robert Bentley, a dermatologist who maintains an active medical license, said painkillers can relieve suffering but are also highly addictive.

If people take enough prescription pain relievers, especially the opioids that are given so commonly now, if you take enough of them, you probably will become addicted, Bentley said

The governor said he believes education is needed in both the exam room and at home about the drugs use.

The television and radio spots will begin airing in the next two weeks. The website lists treatment facilities and options in each Alabama County.

Task force Chairman Barry Matson said the group hopes to spark honest conversations in families about addiction in all forms.

It touches us all. It’s a conversation we need to have, Matson said.

U.S Attorney George Beck of Montgomery said prescription drug abuse is fueling the rise of heroin and synthetic marijuana use.

Alabama was one of four states targeting by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency this spring in a pill mill crackdown that led to the arrests of several doctors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alabama has one of the nations highest rates of prescription painkillers sold per 10,000 people. DEA data shows Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana were among the top 11 states for prescribing hydrocodone in 2014.

Overdose increase brings call for more teachers, police

Posted on: June 10th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

By Peter Francis [email protected] | Posted 4 days ago

June 7, 2015

HAVERHILL — City leaders said they were aware Haverhill has a problem with overdoses from heroin and other drugs, but statistics showing the number of overdoses across the community is driving the point home.

The numbers have some city councilors calling for Haverhill to hire more drug abuse educators and counselors for schools, and also more police officers.

According to figures compiled by Trinity Emergency Medical Services, the ambulance company serving Haverhill, paramedics responded to 475 overdoses in Haverhill in 2014. Of them, 275 were the result of opiate abuse, in the form of heroin or strong painkillers such as Demerol, Oxycontin and Vicodin, the figures show.

The number of overdose responses in 2014 was up nearly 14 percent compared to the year before. Trinity logged 415 overdose responses in 2013, 192 of which were opiate-related, the figures show.

The statistics were presented recently to the City Council by members of the city’s Heroin Overdose Prevention and Education Task Force. The numbers paint a vivid picture of Haverhill’s opioid crisis and show the problem is concentrated in the city’s urban neighborhoods.

“Opioid overdoses account for 58 percent of overdoses, while overdoses in general have increased 13 percent (from 2013 to 2014),” said task force member Megan Shea, adding that opioid overdoses increased 30 percent during that time.

Drug problem crosses neighborhoods

Of the 275 opiate overdoses in 2014, 98 were suffered by females and 177 affected males, the report shows. The average age for opiate overdoses was 39 for females and 37 for males. In 2013, 75 females with an average age of 47 and 117 males with an average age of 47 overdosed from opiates in Haverhill.

The numbers show overdoses were concentrated in inner-city neighborhoods known for illegal drugs and street crime. According to the statistics, 65 opiate overdoses occurred in the Mount Washington area, 48 were in the lower Acre and 44 were in the downtown area. Mount Washington saw the biggest increase of any Haverhill neighborhood between 2013 and last year, jumping from 42 overdoses in 2013 to 65 last year.

Other neighborhoods which saw jumps of more than 10 overdoses included the lower Acre; the Highlands, which jumped from four in 2013 to 16 in 2014; and Central Bradford, which climbed from six in 2013 to 18 last year.

More affluent neighborhoods were also affected, supporting the theory that heroin use happens in all walks of life. West Parish, Walnut Square, the upper Acre and Ward Hill also saw increases of five or more overdose calls from 2013 to 2014, the numbers showed.

Kim Boisselle, chair of the task force, spoke with the council recently about the need for another full-time health teacher to impress students about the overdose problem and risks of drug use.

“Right now we have one health teacher for all the (middle) schools,” said Boisselle, adding the school system is in favor of hiring another teacher to help educate younger students about the dangers of opiates. “There are over 1,000 middle school students and it (the current teaching resources) is just not enough.”

School Committee President Scott Wood said he agrees the situation is not ideal. He said the part-time addiction and recovery specialist position created for the school district last year has been elevated to full time this year.

Wood said he isn’t certain one additional teacher would make a substantial difference.

“Do we need more in the health department? Sure,” he said. “But I think we could add one more addiction and recovery specialist until we could fund the health department at what it once was,” said Wood. “A specialist can work with students one-on-one, as well as in (events) in front of all students.”

Task force: Prescription drugs lead to heroin use

Shea told the council prescription drugs, not heroin, are the biggest concern of drug prevention activists because prescription drugs lead to heroin abuse.

She also highlighted data provided by the state’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services for 2014 which shows 1,266 Haverhill residents were treated for addiction last year, a figure Shea believes is only the tip of the iceberg.

“Research says that one out of every 10 people needing treatment actually get into treatment,” she said. “We could be dealing with 10,000 people who are dealing with some form of addiction.”

Shea said Haverhill is one of the only cities in Essex County which has experienced a progressive increase in treatment admissions for substance abuse over the past four years. She also noted the resources for accessing treatment are scarce.

“We’ll get more data in the next few weeks and hopefully we’ll develop a sound picture of what’s happening and a strategy,” she said.

Councilor Colin LePage said he wants Mayor James Fiorentini to hire another health teacher, which Boiselle said was not included in the school district’s budget proposal for the upcoming year.

LePage also wants the mayor to hire more police officers.

“I know that we can’t arrest our way out of these problems and Band-Aids don’t work,” LePage said. “It’s escalating, but the problem has always been there and one part-time teacher is not enough for a problem that’s growing.”

Councilor Thomas Sullivan said he was “shocked” the school district had effectively done away with its health programs.

“We don’t just need one position,” he said. “We need a series of positions, instructors who provide programs more than once a year. We have to engage the kids and we have to engage them early.”

Follow Peter Francis on Twitter @PeterMFrancis

Teens start misusing ADHD drugs and other stimulants earlier than you might think

Posted on: June 10th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

Jun 02, 2015 

The peak ages for starting to misuse ADHD drugs and other stimulants are younger than many might think, new research shows. Credit: University of Michigan Despite stereotypes about college students resorting to black-market Ritalin to help them cram for exams, young people are actually most likely to start misusing prescription stimulant drugs in their high school years, according to new University of Michigan Medical School research.
The peak ages for starting to use these drugs without a prescription – in order to get high or for other effects – are between 16 and 19 years.

That’s according to a new analysis of national data from anonymous surveys of more than 240,000 teens and young adults, which will be published in the July issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Each year between the ages of 16 and 19, just under 1 percent of teens started using stimulant medications not prescribed to them, or to achieve a certain feeling—including drugs like Ritalin that are usually used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as well as prescription diet drugs and medicines that contain methamphetamine.

The findings suggest that education programs should start in middle school to keep more young people from starting to use prescription stimulants for non-medical uses. Such use can bring risky side effects, including the chance of becoming dependent on an illegally obtained drug, and even hallucinations, suicide or sudden death.

“We need to have a realistic understanding of when young people are beginning to experiment with stimulants, so we can prevent them from misusing for the first time,” says study author and U-M Injury Center postdoctoral fellow Elizabeth Austic, Ph.D., MSW, MSI. “To prevent someone from using for the first time is often more cost efficient and effective than trying to intervene once they have done it, whether a few times or for years.”

Her analysis used data from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, conducted among young people aged 12 to 21 years by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration between 2004 and 2012.

Austic mined the data for the number of young people who reported that they had started using prescription stimulants in the past year.

She notes that while most education and prevention programs around stimulant misuse have been aimed at the college population, her results show that respondents aged 20 and 21 had the same rate of starting stimulant use as those aged 13 and 14. If a young person is going to start using stimulants, he or she is most likely to start in the late teen years.

Surprisingly, the study shows that at age 18, the rate of starting stimulant misuse was twice as high among young women as it was in young men. Prescription diet pills were the most popular stimulant drug misused by females, while Adderall was the most popular among males. Non-Hispanic white and Native American teens also had a higher rate of prescription stimulant misuse overall than all other race and ethnicity groups.

“People have been thinking this is a college problem, but they just don’t realize how prevalent it is at younger ages,” explains Austic, who is part of the Postdoctoral Translational Scholars Program run by the U-M Medical School’s Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research.

Although research has debunked the idea that taking prescription stimulants sporadically can improve grades, teens may still seek this effect based on misperceptions. Or, they may misuse stimulants for the sense of euphoria they bring if taken in certain ways or doses, or even to recover from hangovers.

The current generation of young people may perceive Ritalin and other prescription stimulants as safe because they’ve seen their friends and siblings take them daily under a doctor’s care for ADHD.

But many carry a “black box” warning about side effects, and have very different effects on the brains of people without ADHD, and when taken with alcohol or other drugs. The combination of stimulants and alcohol can be especially dangerous because the drugs counteract the natural sedative effects of alcohol, raising the risk of risky behaviors such as violence and drunk driving.

“The earlier people begin misusing drugs of any kind, the more likely they are to develop drug dependence problems,” says Austic. “The fact that the peak ages for starting to misuse prescription stimulants are between 16 and 19 should be concerning to those who understand how drug dependence works.”

Based on her data, Austic is working with U-M colleagues to develop an intervention that would help young people who are being treated with stimulants for ADHD understand the dangers of sharing their medicine with others, and the risk that others might want to steal their pills to use themselves.

Other research has shown that a quarter of adolescents who have a prescription for ADHD medication share or sell it, often because they’re pressured or bullied, and 7 percent have had their medicine stolen.

“Ultimately, we need to see more interventions that are school-based and doctor’s office-based interventions starting in early adolescence, for both young people who have a prescription and those who don’t,” she says. Parents of children and teens who use ADHD medication should also be trained to understand the realities of stimulant misuse, and to monitor their child’s medication supply.

Sherrod Brown | Combat prescription drug abuse

Posted on: June 2nd, 2015 by sobrietyresources

June 1, 2015

Drug overdoses are on the rise across Ohio.

In 2013, we saw a record 2,110 fatal overdoses in our state. Opioid abuse in particular has wreaked havoc across Ohio, devastating thousands of families. When it’s easier for Americans to access opioids than it is for them access help to treat their addiction, we have a serious problem.

That’s why I worked across the aisle to introduce the bipartisan Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act (TREAT Act), which would allow health care providers to treat larger numbers of patients struggling with addiction to opioids like painkillers and heroin.

Current law limits the number of patients a health care provider can treat for opioid abuse problems using medication-assisted treatment programs. This has left patients to languish on waiting lists for critical treatment.

My bill would update U.S. law to enable qualified physicians to treat larger numbers of patients struggling with addiction and, for the first time, allow certain nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide supervised, medication-assisted treatment for patients.

We must ensure that there are a variety of treatment options available for those who need help battling addiction, including effective medication-assisted treatment. By allowing doctors to treat more patients and utilize medication-assisted treatment in combination with behavioral health support, we can change the course for treating opioid addiction for the better.

Opioid addiction is a chronic disease that, when left untreated, places a large burden on our health care system. Deaths from opioid overdoses in the United States have increased by more than five times since 1980. Each year, about 475,000 emergency room visits are attributable to the misuse and abuse of opioid pain killers across the U.S.

We also need to do more to get drugs out of wrongful hands. Too many Ohioans can easily get prescription drugs from the family medicine cabinet or from family and friends who no longer use the medicines they were legally prescribed.

That’s why last week I, along with several of my Senate colleagues, sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch urging her to reinstate the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Drug Take-Back Days. This program has successfully provided Americans with the opportunity to safely turn over unwanted, unneeded and expired medications so they don’t end up in the hands of people who may abuse them.

Last September’s Take-Back Day in Ohio featured 194 sites available for safe drug disposal throughout the state, and was a tremendous success.

Abuse of prescription drugs — especially painkillers — can devastate communities. We can and must do more to keep these medications out of the hands of those who abuse them, and to get Ohioans dealing with addiction the help that they need.

Sherrod Brown is a U.S. Senator from Ohio



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