News & Updates – August 25, 2015; Issue 227



Categories: 2015-08-25, News Updates, TOC

White House Program Stresses Treatment to Slow Heroin Epidemic

White House“The White House on Monday announced a $2.5 million initiative to address rising heroin use across the Northeast by, for the first time, pairing public health workers and law enforcement in order to incorporate treatment options into crackdown efforts.

The partnership will span 15 states from New England to Washington, D.C., and help public safety officials better share information about heroin use in order to track where the drug is coming from, monitor deadly heroin overdoses and provide training to first responders on handling overdoses.

The new efforts are a response to the increase in heroin use across the United States over the last decade. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013. More than 8,200 people died in 2013.

Health officials believe opioid painkiller abuse is one of the main drivers of the recent uptick heroin use in recent years, with the CDC noting that 45 percent of people who used heroin were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers.”

Read more at:

The White House press release can be accessed at:

Source: – August 17, 2015

Categories: 2015-08-25, Addiction, News Updates, Opioid Abuse/Addiction
Tags: Addiction, Government, Heroin

Feds Now Pushing States Toward Medical Treatment for Heroin Addicts - Some Federal Grants Will Even Require Rehab Centers to Offer It

grants “For the first time, the federal agency responsible for most public funding of drug addiction treatment has added language to its grant applications designed to push the treatment industry away from the abstinence model.

Treatment for substance abuse disorders in the United States widely follows this model, which rests on the belief that abstaining from all drugs, including medications prescribed specifically for addiction, is the only acceptable route to recovery.

The new grant language from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration encourages states to reject the status quo and to require the option of medication-assisted treatment in clinical settings.

The new language appears in SAMHSA’s block grant application for fiscal years 2016-2017. The money available through these block grants is substantial; in fiscal year 2015, the agency had $1.8 billion to award. So while some treatment providers vehemently disagree with the federal recommendation, the suggestion will carry weight.

Among the medical establishment, medication-assisted treatment — such as providing methadone or buprenorphine (which goes by the brand name Suboxone) — is widely viewed as the standard of care for treating heroin and other opioid addicts. But the vast majority of rehabilitation facilities in the U.S. do not offer such care.”

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Source: – August 13, 2015

Categories: 2015-08-25, Addiction, Buprenorphine, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), Methadone, News Updates, Opioid Abuse/Addiction
Tags: Addiction, Buprenorphine, Government, Heroin, Methadone Treatment, Opioid Treatment Programs, SAMHSA

Analysis: When Heroin Hits The White Suburbs - Suddenly It’s Not A Crime Problem, It’s A Health Problem.

heroin and injection“Heroin use and abuse in America has dramatically increased over the past decade. Between 2006 and 2013, federal records reveal, the number of first-time heroin users doubled, from 90,000 to 169,000. Some of those users, no doubt, already are gone. The Center for Disease Control announced last month that the rate of deadly heroin overdoses nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013.

These troubling figures, and a spate of more recent stories and daunting statistics, have prompted officials across the country to implement bold new policies and practices designed to reduce the harm of heroin use. Although there has been some push to enhance criminal sanctions to combat the heroin surge, much of the institutional reaction to the renewed popularity of the drug has sounded in the realm of medicine, not law.”

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Source: – August 12, 2015

Categories: 2015-08-25, Heroin, News Updates
Tags: Addiction, Heroin

Epidemic: Heroin Addiction … Again. What Will It Take This Time? By A. Thomas McLellan, PhD

McLellan“Last month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that our country is facing a major public health epidemic.

Hint: it isn’t Ebola or SARS. And it isn’t avian flu or any of the other scary sounding public health threats that so often raise alarm bells in the media.

What is it? Drug addiction. An epidemic largely hidden from view and generally ignored by the media, yet an epidemic that far too many families across the country have been painfully aware of for some time. The particular drug that has risen to epidemic levels of abuse at this time is heroin. Heroin led to more than 8,000 overdose deaths in 2013 alone; rates of heroin addiction have quadrupled in just over a decade.

Read more at:–again-What-will-it-take-this-time.html

Source: – August 17, 2015

Categories: 2015-08-25, Addiction, Heroin, News Updates, Opioid Abuse/Addiction
Tags: Addiction, Heroin

William White Blog: The Trajectories of Opioid Addiction

William White“Dr. Yih-Ing Hser and her colleagues (Elizabeth Evans, Christine Grella, Walter Ling, and Douglas Anglin) have just published an important review—Long-Term Course of Opioid Addiction–in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry.  Findings from their review of 28 long-term studies of opioid addiction that have particular relevance for addiction professionals, recovery support specialists, and recovery advocates include the following.

  • Studies of recovery from opioid addiction are plagued by a lack of consensus on measurable recovery outcomes.
  • The trajectory of long-term opioid use is marked by high rates of morbidity.
  • There is a significant time delay between the onset of opioid use and help-seeking—6-10 years in the studies reviewed.
  • The most common trajectory of opioid dependence is marked by cycles of active use, periods of remission, and return to opiate use and its related problems.
  • While opioid abstinence rates erode over time, there is evidence of stable and sustained recovery from opioid dependence.
  • Achieving opioid abstinence for a period of five or more years is an important marker of recovery stability, but addiction recurrence can still occur after this benchmark.
  • Professional treatment of opioid addiction, particularly prolonged treatment and higher cumulative doses of treatment, is associated with more positive outcomes, but these effects can be ephemeral.
  • Prolonged opioid addiction is also often marked by developmental trauma and co-occurring medical and psychiatric conditions…”

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Source: – August 14, 2015

Categories: 2015-08-25, Heroin, News Updates, Opioid Abuse/Addiction, Prescription Drugs
Tags: Addiction, Heroin, Prescription Opioids

Opiate Addiction Spreading, Becoming More Complex

“The growing availability of heroin, combined with programs aimed at curbing prescription painkiller abuse, may be changing the face of opiate addiction in the U.S., according to sociologists.

While heroin abuse is still relatively rare, the use of the drug is not only increasing, but it is now being coupled with the abuse of prescription painkillers, said Shannon Monnat, assistant professor of rural sociology, demography, and sociology, Penn State. She added that the heroin-prescription drug combination is also hitting groups that were not traditionally viewed as widespread opiate users.

“One of the things we’ve found is that the simultaneous use of heroin and prescription painkillers together has increased dramatically among whites and especially among young white men,” said Monnat, who worked with Khary K. Rigg, assistant professor of mental health law and policy, University of Southern Florida.

Monnat described the recent trend as a domino effect of addiction that began in the 1980s and 1990s when the over-prescription of painkillers led to an increase in addiction to those drugs.”

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Source: – August 17, 2015


Categories: 2015-08-25, Heroin, News Updates, Research/Surveys
Tags: Addiction, Heroin, Prescription Opioids, Research

The Heroin Epidemic’s Toll: One County, 70 Minutes, Eight Overdoses 

WASHINGTON, PA. — “The first call came at 7:33 p.m. last Sunday: Two people had overdosed on heroin in a home just a few hundred yards from the station where firefighters were awaiting their nightly round of drug emergencies.

Six minutes later, there was another. A 50-year-old man had been found in his bedroom, blue from lack of oxygen, empty bags of heroin by his body.

At 8:11, a third call. Then another, and another, and another and another.

By 8:42 — 69 minutes after the first report — a county of slightly more than 200,000 people had recorded eight overdoses, all believed to be caused by heroin. There would be a total of 16 overdoses in 24 hours and 25 over two days. Three people died. Many of the others were saved by a recent decision to equip every first responder with the fast-acting antidote naloxone.

The toll wasn’t from a supply of heroin that had been poisoned on its journey from South America to southwestern Pennsylvania. Nor was there an isolated party where careless junkies miscalculated the amount of heroin they could handle. Last week was simply an extreme example of what communities in parts of the country are enduring as the heroin epidemic rages on.”

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Source: – August 23, 2015

Categories: 2015-08-25, Addiction, Heroin, News Updates, Opioid Abuse/Addiction
Tags: Addiction, Heroin, Overdose

Who Does, and Who Doesn’t, Get Drug Treatment in Prison

prison“An Ohio prison yard was reportedly the site of a “free-for-all” earlier this month, when dozens of inmates fought over a package of drugs that had been flown over the prison walls and dropped there by a drug mule drone.

Many news reports about it had a kind of dark humor to them, but the reality behind that debacle is nothing to laugh at. In addition to tobacco and marijuana, the package included enough heroin for about 100 doses, the Columbus Dispatch reported at the time. The paper followed up with a report that the percentage of Ohio state prisoners who tested positive for illegal drug use had increased by 41 percent over the past two years. In 2014, there were about 1,900 inmates in the state prison system who failed random drug tests.

Research has consistently shown how important it is for inmates who come into prison with drug addictions to get treatment behind bars: Drug use in prison that involves needles can spread disease, and cold-turkey withdrawals can lead to overdoses when people get out. But new research also shows that, even when drug treatment is available to prison inmates, not everyone actually takes advantage of it. In fact, the disparity between who does and does not seek treatment often falls among racial lines.

For her recent article in the journal Addictive Behaviors, University of Colorado–Boulder sociologist Kathryn Nowotny looked at survey information gathered in 2004 from state prisons across the country—over 5,000 inmates in 286 prisons. She found that fewer than a half of the inmates who had drug dependency problems had received any kind of treatment at all in their time behind bars. Of those who had, the most commonly referenced treatment was “self-help groups” (as opposed to, say, opioid replacement therapy). And she also found that, when treatment was available, Hispanic inmates who had drug dependency were much less likely than either white or black inmates to utilize it. But why?”

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Source: – August 20, 2015

Categories: 2015-08-25, Addiction, Drug Courts & Criminal Justice, News Updates, Opioid Abuse/Addiction
Tags: Addiction, Drug Courts, Heroin, Prescription Opioids, Substance abuse treatment

Opiate Addiction: Sociologists Construct Distinct Profiles for Heroin and Prescription Painkiller User

“Heroin abuse is relatively rare in the United States. However, a new Penn State University study finds the growing availability of this drug has increased its use, while abuse of prescription painkillers also continues to rise. The combination has changed the face of addiction with previously untouched groups now being affected, says Dr. Shannon Monnat, assistant professor of rural sociology, demography, and sociology.

In particular, the simultaneous use of both heroin and prescription painkillers has increased among whites, especially young white men, say Monnat and her co-author, Dr. Khary K. Rigg, assistant professor of mental health law and policy, University of Southern Florida.”

Read more at:

Source: – August 21, 2015

Categories: 2015-08-25, Addiction, Heroin, News Updates, Prescription Drugs
Tags: Heroin, Prescription Opioids

Links to Additional News of Interest

newsBlog: Why Incarceration Is Not the Solution to the Opioid-Addiction Epidemic – 8/21/15

William White Blog: Opioid Addiction: An Open Letter To The 2016 Presidential Candidates – 8/21/15

The Heroin Epidemic, in 9 Graphs – 8/19/15

While Washington Tackles Opioid Abuse Epidemic, Hepatitis C Treatment Remains Unaffordable – 8/18/15

The VA’s Attempt To Fight Opioid Dependence Leaves Pain Patients Cut Off – 8/17/15

Jana Burson Blog: In Praise of Opioids – 8/16/15

FDA Approves OxyContin for Kids as Young as 11 – 8/14/15

Narcan: It Saves Lives. Does It Enable Addicts? – 8/14/15

Categories: 2015-08-25, News Updates
Tags: Heroin, Prescription Opioids, Substance abuse treatment, Veterans