Addiction Rural Community Action Guide Now Available

The Trump Administration released a new tool today meant to help rural community leaders to build a community response to the addiction crisis, which has killed tens of thousands of people in the past ten years. What is the Action Guide? The Rural Community Action Guide has research and background information to help community leaders understand more about addiction and the addiction epidemic. In rural areas, there are often few resources available to help people with addiction problems. Many people with an addiction or mental health disorder may feel isolated or desperate. Yet addiction has become widespread throughout small-town America. In the guide, local government and community members can learn more about recommended action steps, and best practices when it comes to small towns and rural communities.  “Families and communities in rural America have been hard hit by the crisis of addiction, and face unique challenges in developing effective responses to this disease. The Rural Community Action Guide empowers local leaders to meet these challenges head-on with recommended action…

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FDA Warns CBD Products Can Be Dangerous

The proliferation of CBD products in the “wellness” industry seemed to happen overnight. CBD, a byproduct of marijuana and hemp that does not get users “high”, has been marketing as a cure-all to everything from arthritis to anxiety. Some sellers even claim that CBD can help fight cancer by lowering inflammation levels. Now, the FDA is stepping in and warning users and manufacturers that these products not only may be modern-day “snake oil” but also can cause real damage to some people’s health. What is CBD, Exactly? CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a chemical that’s found in all types of cannabis, even the male plant which is not smoked or used as a drug. Instead of getting a user high, CBD is supposed to have a host of health benefits and has been proven to help with rare seizure disorders in children. However, that’s where the clinical testing has stopped. CBD is being marketed and sold by hundreds of companies, yet it hasn’t been undergone a clinical trial…

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Scientists Explore Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) to Fight Addiction

Addiction is costly in many ways. It can cost relationships, families, jobs, and lives. The stigma of addiction can cause people not to seek help, and it seems that the stigma is international, just like the disease of addiction itself. China has been experimenting with different solutions for addiction for years. People often go to the research doctors out of desperation. A recent article by the Associated Press detailed the desperation a man named Yan, in China, felt when over the years he became addicted to crystal meth and, eventually, heroin. His father wanted to help but was tired of watching him bounce in and out of drug rehabilitation. He gave him a choice between another trip to drug rehabilitation, or to try Deep Brain Stimulation surgery. “Of course, I chose surgery,” Yan said. “With surgery, I definitely have the chance to get my life back.” China’s Research into DBS for Addiction China doesn’t have the same medical laws as America, and for many years they tried an archaic…

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Purdue Pharma is Exploring Bankruptcy

Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin, is exploring the idea of bankruptcy to protect itself from over a thousand lawsuits filed across the country blaming them, in part, for the opioid addiction crisis that has claimed thousands of lives in states across the US. The manufacturer of Oxycontin, as well as the Sackler family that controls the majority of the company, say they are under duress due to the massive litigation they face by counties, cities, and states. They have been repeatedly accused of misleading doctors through marketing and sales pressures, without mentioning the risks of addiction or downplaying those risks entirely. The bankruptcy type that Purdue is considering is Chapter 11, which would stop the lawsuits from moving forward as Purdue settles the trials under the direction of a bankruptcy judge. Purdue hired law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP for restructuring advice last August, making litigants nervous about the possibility of an insolvency claim to shut down the lawsuits. A thousand lawsuits have been consolidated through a…

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Border Patrol Nabs Largest Fentanyl Bust Ever

Last week, the federal government announced one of the largest fentanyl drug busts ever, containing 254 pounds of the synthetic drug. The bust occurred at the Nogales, Arizona border onboard a truck that hid the pills under cucumbers. Alongside the powerful opioid, there was also 354 pounds of methamphetamine. Both drugs have been on the rise in America the past few years, with fentanyl deaths outpacing other opioid deaths rapidly. At its current pace, according to US Customs and Border Control, the opioid epidemic kills ninety people a day. The fentanyl in the seizure is valued $3.5 million and is twice the size of a haul discovered in a truck stopped by state troopers in Nebraska in 2017. Fentanyl is quickly becoming one of the deadliest opioids in the United States, and it often comes to the US via China, passing through US Customs undetected. Last year, the opioid task force recommended that Congress fund new machines for the United States Postal Service that detect drugs. The majority of…

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Cocaine-Opioid Cocktails Have Been Killing Since 2010

People have been dying from opioid and cocaine cocktails regularly since 2010, but there hasn’t been much reporting on it. That’s partially because the focus is on the fact that these deaths were from opioids. But calling these deaths “opioid overdoses” is problematic because, in some cases, the drug users were never aware that they were using an opioid. According to the Washington Examiner, more than 10,100 people died from mixing the drugs in 2017. 7,241 of those deaths showed both cocaine and fentanyl in their systems. Fentanyl is a potent opioid about 50 to 200 times stronger than morphine. It’s also the deadliest opioid in the US, with the majority of deaths in 2017. Deaths caused by opioids and cocaine have risen nearly 76 percent since 2012. Recently, opioid test strips have emerged across the United States as a part of harm-reduction efforts. The strips, which cost $1 each and have been given out with needle exchange programs and at other places drug users frequent, can detect even…

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Grant Awarded to Create, Upgrade Much-Needed Sober Housing in Mass.

In Massachusetts, in some ways, they are catching up to the opioid epidemic and facing it head-on. This sometimes means sending addicted patients home with medication-assisted treatment, offering sober coaching programs, and even providing drop-in clinics in some cities where drug addiction therapy is scarce. Now, The Center for Community Recovery Innovations (CCRI) has awarded a total of $696,995 in grant funding to help house recovery populations that include men, women, families, veterans, the homeless and ex-offenders. The money will go to creating and modernizing 118 affordable sober housing units in communities across Massachusetts. The grants come from the Center for Community Recovery Innovations, Inc. (CCRI), a nonprofit subsidiary of MassHousing. The goal of the award is to help nonprofits create or preserve affordable sober housing in Massachusetts. This is not the first grant that has been awarded to support substance-free housing. Total, CCRI has awarded more than $10 million in grants. Without these grants, there would be few options for recovery housing, which is often considered the best…

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Tainted Cocaine Causing Brain Damage

A dangerous new substance that’s used as an anti-worming agent has been found in recent cocaine samples taken by Swiss researchers, according to a report by Big Think. Cocaine is the second-most popular drug worldwide, and it’s almost always “cut” with another drug or substance so that the drug is more profitable. In some cases, medications like fentanyl are added to cocaine to make it more addictive – but it’s also more dangerous. Usually, it’s baking soda or ammonia that’s added with the simple goal of thinning out the drug content. Now, however, two studies from the University of Zurich (UZH) discovered that levamisole, a powerful animal anti-worming agent, has been turning up in the cocaine supply. Scientists speculate that it is being used by chemists to make the effects of cocaine last longer. It’s also possible that it’s leaving brain damage in regular cocaine users. The long-term effects are impaired cognitive performance and the thinning out the prefrontal cortex. Levamisole is also leading to changes in blood counts…

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Horizon BCBC Offers NJ Members Free Peer Recovery Counselors

In New Jersey, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield is offering their clients a new secret weapon as they begin their recovery journey. Peer recovery counselors, trained to help others who are trying to get clean, will be offered to anyone who is currently receiving treatment for a substance use disorder. The counselors will be available 24/7 via telehealth sessions. The sessions will take place over live video chat, which is how they can be offered any time, day or night. Horizon told the media that about 1.35 million of the 3 million members they currently have would be eligible for the program. Nearly seven out of a hundred thousand people in their network end up seeking help for a substance use disorder. Why Peer Recovery Counselors? Allen Karp, Horizon's executive vice president, says that peer-support programs “dramatically improves a person’s chances of achieving long-term success.” People in treatment or counseling, who have begun treatment and are considered “stable” will be eligible for extra help.  The first few months are a critical…

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How Will the Opioids Crisis Response Act Fight Addiction?

Much to the excitement of addiction recovery advocates and after a time stalled in Congress, lawmakers are finally close to passing a hefty bill to combat opioid abuse. The measure would combine law enforcement and public health measures, and includes initiatives and funding to help make addiction recovery services more accessible to people with opioid use disorder. If passed, the law will be the most comprehensive action to date to deal with the opioid epidemic. The bill is a rare bipartisan effort in a time where many initiatives have stalled entirely due to the deep political divides in both the House and the Senate. The bill itself stalled in the House of Representatives earlier because Democrats objected to a part of the law that would benefit a group tied to the pharmaceutical industry that helped create the epidemic of addiction that our country faces today. Finally, a compromise was reached in the Senate this week removing the provision, and the bill was modified to focus on a variety of…

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