Archive for August, 2015

White House launches plan to counter explosion in heroin use

Posted on: August 20th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

Julia Edwards, REUTERS

‎August‎ ‎17‎, ‎2015

EDGARTOWN, Mass. (Reuters) – The White House announced a new strategy on Monday to tackle the explosion in heroin use in a collection of eastern states, focusing on treating addicts rather than punishing them and targeting high-level suppliers for arrest.

The move is a response to a sharp rise in the use of heroin and opiate-based painkillers, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has described as an epidemic.

Heroin use has more than doubled among people aged 18-25 in the United States in the past decade, according to CDC figures, while overdose death rates have nearly quadrupled. An estimated 45 percent of U.S. heroin users are also addicted to prescription painkillers.

Announcing the ‘Heroin Response Strategy’ on Monday, Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy, said the new plan will address the heroin and painkiller epidemics as both “a public health and a public safety issue.”

Under the plan, $2.5 million of $13.4 million in new funding to combat drug trafficking will target regions the White House said are facing a severe heroin threat: Appalachia, New England, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.

The Obama administration will work with local law enforcement to increase access to treatment for addicts and try to trace the sources of heroin trafficking.

The policy is in line with new criminal justice strategies that seek to treat more drug offenders as addicts within the public health system rather than as criminals who must serve long sentences in jail.

Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio and Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island have pushed for such policies for more than a year in Congress.

First in heroin, first in the nation to vote

Posted on: August 20th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

Tim Mak, The Daily Beast

‎August‎ ‎11‎, ‎2015

A savage drug epidemic has seized New Hampshire, home of the presidential race’s first primary election. And that’s created a potent 2016 campaign issue—one that top candidates can’t afford to ignore.

In the past decade, the state government reports, the number of people admitted to state-funded treatment programs rose by 90 percent for heroin and 500 percent for prescription opiate abuse.

“We have in New Hampshire some of the highest per capita rates of addiction in the United States,” Tym Rourke, chairman of the New Hampshire governor’s commission on drug abuse, told The Daily Beast. “So we are very, very much at ground zero for addiction… Right now, we are having an overdose death every day.”

If a presidential candidate hopes to have sway over the state’s voters, Governor Maggie Hassan told The Daily Beast, they’re going to need to read up on heroin addiction.

“It’s going to be really important that all presidential candidates visiting New Hampshire be prepared on this issue, to understand how it’s wreaking havoc in our state,” she said. “You cannot go into a room in New Hampshire, of more than a couple of people, and not have them raise the issue of how substance abuse is impacting our state.”

“I think the candidates have come to New Hampshire surprised that in many of their first stops, substance abuse was a major issue for voters,” Rourke said.

Ted Gatsas is the mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire, a town of just over 110,000 people where 50 have died from heroin overdoses since January. Because of the state’s role in picking presidents, he has far greater sway than almost any other mayor of a comparably-sized town, and he’s using it to talk about the addiction issue.

In this cycle alone, he says, he has met with Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Donald Trump, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Bobby Jindal. And to each of them he has stressed that they need to be paying attention to the nationwide problem of heroin addiction more broadly, and specifically its effects on the Granite State.

“When they come into my office, that’s what I talk to them about,” Gatsas said. “It’s something that the entire country should be drawing attention to, because people are dying.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich name-checked the mayor last week during a presidential forum.

“We have the mayor of Manchester, who’s fighting a tsunami here,” Kasich said. “I think it’s very important that with economic growth comes responsibility and ability to help people who live in the shadows, whether they’re mentally ill or drug-addicted.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been reaching out to local leaders in addiction treatment.

“I really commend Hillary Clinton, who just as she started her campaign… really began to bring the public focus on this issue,” Hassan said. “I would encourage all of the other candidates for president to follow her lead and focus on how they’ll address the epidemic.”

The issue has already made its way into Republican presidential forums, debates, and town halls.

“The first question I was asked in my first town hall meeting was about the heroin epidemic,” former Florida Governor Jeb Bush told the New Hampshire Union Leader editorial board.

“You talk about New Hampshire for a moment. One of the stories that has not been as reported nationally, is the fact that many of the people who today are dependent on heroin, is because they became dependent on prescription opiates,” Senator Marco Rubio said, in an answer about why he doesn’t support legalizing marijuana, at a forum in New Hampshire last week.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently visited a local treatment center. “New Hampshire’s got its issues, but so does New Jersey and so does Iowa, and places I’ve been visiting have all been experiencing the same thing. This is an epidemic in our country,” he said.

“In my own state as governor, it is a drug that you don’t take. It takes you,” Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently told WMUR, a New Hampshire news network. “This has become a major concern particularly in rural and in less densely populated areas. It’s not just a drug problem in the big cities. That is all the more reason why we need to take major portions of our resources and send them from the federal government—from Washington—back to our states and local communities.”

More than 8,200 people died of heroin-related overdoses nationwide in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. And use of the drug has more than doubled among adults age 18-25 over the past 10 years.

Heroin is an opioid, the same general kind of drug used in many prescription painkillers, which are among the most commonly abused drugs in the country, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. If taken in amounts or ways other than prescribed, opioid pain medications like Oxycontin and Vicodin can have heroin-like effects: an initial euphoria, followed by a period of alternating between drowsiness and wakefulness.

The CDC notes that people who are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers are 40 times more likely to be addicted to heroin. Efforts to clamp down on prescription opioid painkiller abuse have partly—unintentionally—fueled the demand for heroin. Heroin is cheaper, and can often be obtained more easily, although illegally, than prescription drugs.

When New Hampshire clamped down on prescription drug abuse, local addicts turned to heroin, Rourke said. “This heroin epidemic has been a tsunami in health-care disasters 30 years in the making.”

But candidates have not yet gotten specific about how to deal with drug abuse. One potential reason for this is that treatment methods can be quite controversial, especially publicly-funded needle exchanges or more access to methadone, a drug used to help wean individuals off addiction.

“While Republican candidates brought this up during the debate, on the federal level the Republican Congress has moved to cut funding for substance abuse, and they also all are running against the continuation of the Affordable Care Act, which includes Medicaid expansion coverage for substance abuse and behavioral health,” Hassan said.

Republican candidates could turn to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, a piece of legislation co-sponsored by New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte and a number of other senators from both parties. Of the senators who are running for president, only Lindsey Graham has signed on. The bill would authorize the federal government to award grants to address the opioid and heroin use epidemic.

“We’re facing a public health crisis in our state. We’ve had a dramatic increase in heroin and opioid deaths,” Ayotte told The Daily Beast. “This is a very big issue, and that’s why I think you see the presidential candidates who are campaigning in New Hampshire mentioning it, on both sides of the aisle.”

Portman, Brown introduce legislation to save lives and reduce health care costs

Posted on: August 6th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

8/3/2015   3:26:00 PM

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) joined U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) in working to help end the plague of prescription drug abuse.

The senators introduced the bipartisan Stopping Medication Abuse and Protecting Seniors Act to prevent inappropriate access to opioids and improve patient care for at-risk beneficiaries. This drug abuse prevention plan, already operating in Medicaid and commercial plans, identifies a beneficiary with a history of drug abuse in Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage and locks the beneficiary into one prescriber and one pharmacy to reduce doctor and pharmacy shopping.

It would also encourage insurers, Part D plan sponsors, and physicians to assist beneficiaries battling addiction in seeking substance abuse treatment. The bipartisan legislation will save taxpayers between $79 and $115 million over 10 years by eliminating fraudulent and medically unnecessary prescription payments from Medicare.

“Our bill will protect those at risk of prescription drug abuse, while also maintaining patients’ rights,” Portman stated. “Additionally, it will save taxpayer dollars in the long-run by ensuring Medicare funds are being utilized by those who need it the most. I’m pleased to introduce this bill that not only has the potential to save lives, but also to reduce health care costs and maintain access to health care for seniors.”

The Government Accountability Office estimates 170,000 Medicare beneficiaries may be battling addiction to pain medication. As the rate of pain medication abuse and overdose continues to rise, this legislation would combat opiate abuse, while also improving the continuity of care, and ensuring patients with true medical needs maintain access to effective pain control. Both the HHS Office of the Inspector General and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission have suggested Medicare adopt the kind of drug abuse prevention tool authorized by the legislation.

The Stopping Medication Abuse and Protecting Seniors Act would:

• Honor beneficiary preferences for preferred single pharmacy and preferred single provider unless it is determined that using those providers will contribute to continued drug abuse.
• Notify an at-risk beneficiary of their new status, and conduct a clinical review to ensure seniors who need high amounts of pain pills are not inappropriately included in the program.
• Direct HHS to establish clinical criteria for determining who is an at-risk beneficiary based on use of “frequently abused” opiates.
• Exempt beneficiaries receiving hospice care and those receiving care at a nursing home via a long-term care pharmacy.
• Allow for data sharing between CMS, plans, and contractors to address waste, fraud, and abuse.
• Direct the GAO to study concerns of prescription drug abuse beyond opiates within Medicare.
• Set up procedures to terminate an individual’s inclusion in lock-in and protect a beneficiary’s appeal rights.

Alabaster changes substance abuse policies for students to 'get them help'

Posted on: August 6th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

July 28, 2015.

Alabaster school district’s revised substance abuse policies

Alabaster school district’s revised substance abuse policies provide opportunities for corrective actions that allow students who test positive for drugs or alcohol to receive help and regain the ability to park on campus or participate in extracurricular activities.

Approved by the school board on Monday night, the new policies continue to require random drug and alcohol testing of students from seventh through 12th grades who are participating in extracurricular activities or parking on campus.

The district has a policy pertaining to students in extracurricular activities and one for students who park on campus. The change from the previous policies involves the consequences resulting from testing positive for the prohibited substances.

“We have had a student test positive the first time and they were out for a minimum of seven weeks” from participating in activities, Alabaster Student Services Coordinator Dorann Tanner said about the previous consequence for first-time violations.

“Then if they tested positive the second time, they were done for their career at Thompson. I felt like that was really punitive. This policy to me should not be punitive. It should be preventive and get them help,” Tanner said in an interview.

Here’s how the new substance abuse policies work for students:

First offense: Depending on which policy they violate, students are prohibited from participating in extracurricular activities or parking on campus for 30 calendar days for their first positive test.

They also must complete a substance abuse assessment. “That assessment may recommend they do drug education classes, it may recommend they do substance abuse treatment,” Tanner said.

By completing the recommended action in the assessment and testing negative for drugs or alcohol, the student can return to the barred activity before the 30-day period expires.

Second offense: Testing positive a second time means the student, depending on the policy violation, cannot participate in either extracurricular activities or park on campus for the calendar year starting from the date of the test results.

“But if they complete the substance abuse assessment and they test negative, then they can return back to activity,” Tanner said.

Third offense: “They’re done,” Tanner said about the student losing the ability to either park on campus or participate in activities, again depending on the policy violated.

“We’re going to encourage them to get help and to do the substance abuse assessment, but they won’t earn their privileges back. We felt like we eventually have to draw the line. We thought the third line would be fair and hopefully no student would ever get there because we have two opportunities to intervene,” Tanner said.

The Alabaster school district had been operating under Shelby County Board of Education’s policy following separation in 2013, but Tanner earlier this year began exploring what other districts around the state are doing with their policies.

“My goal for the substance abuse policy is to be preventive and to give kids an out,” she said. “They can say, ‘I can’t do that (because) I can get tested.’ That’s my number one goal for it is to be preventive.”

However, her second goal was “to get them help. I want to get them involved in something so they can get involved (in education) about the dangers of substance abuse and how to stop if they get in over their head.”

Alabaster school district uses a company to perform random drug and alcohol screenings throughout the year. “We try to test everyone that’s in the random pool one time a year at least,” Tanner said.

“We want this policy to be something kids respect and know about. We felt the best way to do that is for every kid to get at least one test a year,” she said. “I hope they’re concerned enough they will not ever use and just say no. But if they do and they mess up, they can still work their way back and get the help they need.”

Drug rehab website aims to discourage use by showing users' physical effects over time

Posted on: August 6th, 2015 by sobrietyresources


WASHINGTON – Addiction experts are attacking the heroin problem head on with graphic examples of how the drug damages your body. It is such a big problem that the governor of Maryland considers it an epidemic in his state.

The experts are hoping the proof is in the pictures. The website has rolled out mugshots of people arrested on drug charges. These pictures show how heroin and other drugs like cocaine and meth can destroy the body over time.

The hope is these pictures will be enough to discourage people from picking up the habit and is the latest push to get the point across that drugs can do horrible things to your body and your face.

The website connects drug addicts with quality rehabilitation centers around the country.

Treatment centers hope these images, which show the progression of repeated drug use, will get the message across.

Images of one man arrested on drug charges among other offenses throughout the years is one example shown. Different photos show him between a 9-year time period between age 45 and age 54 – and you can easily notice a difference in his face during that time.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan knows all too well of the effects of heroin on families. He formed a task force to aggressively deal with the state’s heroin epidemic. He said he lost a cousin to a heroin overdose a couple of years ago.

Just two years ago in 2013, 464 people died from heroin overdoses in Maryland. Fewer people have died by homicide. If numbers don’t work, hopes these visuals will.

The website does offer a disclaimer saying the mugshots are of people arrested for drugs and other drug-related offenses. But their appearances are not necessarily the direct result of drugs or addiction.


45% Of People Addicted to Heroin Began Addicted to Prescription Medications

Posted on: August 6th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

July 27, 2015

Drug and Alcohol Rehab Charlotte comments on WCNC’s recent article.

Charlotte, NC (PRWEB) July 27, 2015

The heroin epidemic is affecting the Charlotte in North Carolina equally as the rest of the country, reported WCNC on July 7th. The rate for heroin usage has continued to climb around the country in part because the price tag of heroin has gone down considerably, and is a less expensive alternative for those with an addiction to prescription opiate medications. According to WCNC, the Centers for Disease Control says 45% of those who are addicted to heroin started out abusing prescription medications for pain management. Heroin addiction proliferates regardless of age, gender, and economic status.

Drug and Alcohol Rehab Charlotte is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center. The facility specializes in heroin rehab in Charlotte and offers patients extensive drug counseling and rehabilitation. The center for addiction treatment asserts more training is needed for medical personnel to accurately prescribe opiate medications to reduce addiction rates nationwide.

An associate of Drug and Alcohol Rehab Charlotte comments, “Part of the problem is that our medical professionals in the field are the first point of contact with highly addictive opiates. In terms of pain management, sometimes opiates are not the best option, as they should be a temporary means, but often become the first ‘remedy’ which often turns into a case of chronic addiction.

“We cannot be so apt to prescribe addictive opiates without knowing a full family history of previous addiction. There must be a national consensus in the medical field if we are to change the tides of the opiate epidemic at one of the roots which spurred it to life.”

Drug and Alcohol Rehab Charlotte specializes in extensive drug rehab in Charlotte and alcohol rehab in Charlotte. The treatment center accepts clients from the entire state of North Carolina and offers patients extensive drug counseling and life coaching services. Patients enjoy 24 hour medical monitoring, status updates on their conditions, and safe medically assisted drug treatment The addiction counselors of Drug and Alcohol Rehab work extensively with clients to identify the core causes of addiction and help remedy the underlying causes of the disease.

Drug and Alcohol Rehab Charlotte accepts most major insurances and provides 100% tuition coverage in some instances.

For more information about Drug and Alcohol Rehab Charlotte visit or call (704)586-9353.

For the original version on PRWeb visit:

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Electronic Questionnaire Quickly Rates Teens’ Substance Use

Posted on: August 4th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

July 17, 2015

With a few simple questions, a new screening tool detects whether a teen is likely to have a mild-to-moderate or a severe substance use disorder (SUD). The tool, “Screening to Brief Intervention” (S2BI), enables pediatricians and other clinicians to rapidly match adolescents’ drug involvement to an appropriate type of brief intervention or referral, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Dr. Sharon Levy at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School and colleagues developed S2BI in response to a NIDA call for tools that time-pressed pediatricians and primary care clinicians can practically use to detect and respond to their adolescent patients’ drug use (see also A Rapid Teen Substance Use Screening Tool for Clinicians). The S2BI tool may be administered by a pediatrician or filled out by the teen on a computer or tablet. Participants in the study who validated the instrument completed the questionnaire in just a few seconds.

Three initial queries ask the teen to select, from four choices for each substance, the one that describes how often he or she has used tobacco products, alcohol, or marijuana during the past year (see Figure). Teens who disclose any use of any of the three substances are also asked the same multiple-choice frequency question about four additional classes of substances.

On the basis of their answers, S2BI sorts the teen into four categories: no substance use, “once or twice” substance use (likely no SUD), monthly use (likely mild-to-moderate SUD), or weekly or more substance use (likely severe SUD). Each of these classifications corresponds to an “actionable category” as distinguished by AAP, which recommends a distinct type of brief intervention for each one, including positive reinforcement, brief advice on the problems associated with substance use, brief intervention, and referral to counseling or treatment.


Figure. A Short Electronic Questionnaire Quickly Screens Teen for Substance Use, The S2BI tool asks the teen how often in the past year he or she has used tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana. The teen chooses from four possible responses for each substance: “never,” “once or twice,” “monthly,” or “weekly.” Those teens who indicate any use of any of the three substances may be asked follow-up questions about their past-year use of four other substances. Each step up in the frequency of use indicated in a teen’s response places him or her into a higher risk category for the corresponding substance use disorder. © Boston Children’s Hospital 2014. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 International License. Text Description of Graphic

Short, Sensitive, Specific

To validate S2BI, Dr. Levy and colleagues administered both it and the Composite International Diagnostic Interview-Substance Abuse Module (CIDI-SAM) to 213 volunteers, age 12 to 17, and compared the results of the two instruments. They considered an S2BI result to be correct when it agreed with the CIDI-SAM, a definitive tool that has been validated against the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

The S2BI tool demonstrated high sensitivity: It accurately detected every instance of substance use, severe substance or alcohol use disorder, marijuana use, and severe marijuana use disorder; between 94 and 100 percent of alcohol use, marijuana use disorder, past-year tobacco use, and any SUD; 79 percent of alcohol use disorders; and 75 percent of cases of nicotine dependence.

S2BI was also highly specific: It misclassified only a small percentage of youth as having a more serious condition than they actually had, according to the CIDI-SAM “gold standard.” This was the case less than 10 percent of the time with respect to any or severe SUDs, alcohol use and alcohol use disorders, marijuana use and marijuana use disorders, and past-year tobacco use.

The youths who participated in the validation study answered the questions in a few seconds. S2BI worked equally well whether teens self-administered it or answered a health practitioner’s questions in a face-to-face interview.

From Screen to Intervention

Dr. Levy and her team are now focusing on how pediatricians might best use S2BI to design and implement interventions for teens whom the tool flags as using substances or as having an SUD.

Dr. Levy says, “The existing literature and consensus opinions provide good guidance for each of the four S2BI categories of substance use severity.” For example, she says, teens who report monthly substance use, and therefore are at risk for moderate SUDs, should receive an intervention that begins with a clinical interview to identify problems associated with their substance use. Teens whose screening results indicate weekly or more substance use should be referred to further treatment, which could include individual counseling, medication-assisted treatment programs, or specialized SUD treatment programs.

Dr. Lisa Onken, chief of NIDA’s Behavioral and Integrative Treatment Branch, says. “Dr. Levy’s results need to be replicated in other settings, but simple screens that practitioners can use easily and quickly are very much needed. The S2BI shows promise in doing the required job: Differentiating various levels of substance use and severity with a few simple questions. Brevity, ease of administration, and accuracy—what else would you need?”

This study was supported by NIH grants DA019570, DA15831, and DA022288.


Levy, S.; Weiss, R.; Sherrit, L. et al. An electronic screen for triaging adolescent substance use by risk levels. JAMA Pediatrics 168(9):798-799, 2014. Full text


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