Fentanyl-Cocaine Combo Causing Deaths in MD

In Maryland, the government has been doing its best to fight the addiction crisis, but they’re not yet winning: in 2017, the number of fatal overdoses increased 9%. Most of these overdoses (90%) were considered to be opioid-induced, with Fentanyl overdoses increased by 42 percent last year, rising from 1,119 in 2016 to 1,594. Fentanyl is a drug that is 50 times stronger than heroin and is typically used in a medical setting. When added to other street drugs, it can be deadly, especially if novice opioid users are taking the drug. In Maryland, they have discovered that a fentanyl-cocaine combination of drugs is causing deaths. Between 2015 and 2016, cocaine deaths doubled because of this lethal combination. The Maryland Department of Health Secretary Rober R. Neall called the increase in fentanyl-related deaths “staggering.” Officials think that the overdose deaths of cocaine containing fentanyl were accidental; the user may have had no clue that the two drugs were combined. Over 71% of cocaine deaths in 2017 was due to…

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Opioid Manufacturers Spent 3 1/2 Times As Much Money on Drs in Canada

A 2016 report shows that pharmaceutical manufacturers spent 3 ½ times as much money pushing opioids to doctors in Canada. The 2016 report is the only one where numbers are currently available for more than one country. According to The Star, Purdue Canada, the company that manufactures Oxycontin gave just over $2 million to Canadian health-care professionals in 2016. In the report, the money is flagged as spending for doctors to provide consulting services and deliver speeches on medical topics. In America, it was found that the addresses that the doctors were supposed to have made were sometimes around a dinner table in a fancy restaurant, or in a hotel with a small audience of other doctors. Purdue Canada gave Canadian doctors a large amount of money. The Star investigation shows that every 1,000 residents, Purdue spent $58 on Canadian doctors compared to $17 in the U.S. The records do not indicate how many individual Canadian doctors were the recipients of such payments. Some of the payments may have…

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Medicaid Recipients Have Better Access to Treatment Than Others

Poor adults seeking help for their opioid use disorder can get more help using Medicaid than other people, including those who may have no insurance or private insurance, according to a report by the Kaiser Foundation. Medicaid has been instrumental to combatting the opioid epidemic, and in areas where the Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid, the most vulnerable populations are given a lifeline. Not only do they get help with any long-lasting medical effects of drug addiction, but they also are often able to attend an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. Republicans have often spoken about retracting the expansions of Medicaid or forcing participants to participate in work programs to “earn” their health insurance. Although many people with substance abuse disorders experience extreme poverty as a barrier to treatment, no new funds have been made available on a federal level to increase access to drug treatment. According to the Kaiser Foundation, 43% percent of nonelderly adults with opioid addiction who were covered by Medicaid received inpatient and outpatient opioid…

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Kratom Recall Due to Salmonella Expands Nationwide

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control notified the public that a salmonella outbreak caused by Kratom had prompted a recall of the product. Kratom products sold under brand names including Botany Bay, Enhance Your Life and Divinity by Divinity Products Distribution are all part of the voluntary recall. Kratom is often touted as an opioid substitute that can help people with a variety of issues, from addiction and chronic pain to anxiety and inflammation. The supplement, which is currently legal, is a plant native to southeast Asia that has become more popular in recent years due to its easy availability on the internet. The Oregon Health Authority asked people to stop using kratom last week when testing found salmonella bacteria in several product samples. Four people in Oregon have already gotten sick from the bad batches they consumed. The Food and Drug Administration issued a “voluntary destruction and recall” for the kratom supplements distributed nationwide under the brands mentioned earlier. If you own products included in the kratom recall,…

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Dozens Overdose on Synthetic Drugs At/Near Homeless Shelter

Dozens Overdose on Synthetic Drugs At/Near Homeless Shelter
Courtesy of Yayimages

Last week, dozens of homeless people overdosed at (and around) a homeless shelter in Indianapolis, Indiana. The site of the crisis was Wheeler Mission, a Christian nonprofit which describes itself as a temporary emergency shelter to homeless and disadvantaged men. Wheeler Mission's Chief Development Officer Steve Kerr told the media that most of the people overdosed inside or nearby. “We’ve experienced overdoses in the facility before but never ever to this degree.” The shelter, which also operates a drug treatment center in Indianapolis, believes that somebody distributed synthetic drugs (Spice, K2, or bath salts), possibly laced with PCP to guests at the shelter. A person in a security video smoking the substance dropped to the ground immediately and went into convulsions. One man tried to bite another man in another video the police viewed. Police arrested 63-year-old Melvin Cannon and 59-year-old Nathaniel Davis of “possession of and dealing in a synthetic drug or synthetic drug lookalike substance." Synthetic Overdoses are a Medical Emergency While staff on-site attempted to administer…

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Office of National Drug Control Policy Needs New Drug Czar

The Trump Administration recently employed 24-year-old Taylor Weyeneth to be the deputy chief of staff (also known as the drug czar) of the Office of National Drug Control Policy or ONDCP. While many addiction advocates were hoping the Administration would be filled by an experienced professional, the appointment of Mr. Weyeneth proved to be profoundly flawed. Before Mr. Weyeneth’s work for the Trump administration, there were only two jobs from which he gleaned experience the only position he’d held since graduating from college in 2016. One of these tasks was working on President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Washington Post reported earlier this month. Aside from his young age, and lack of experience in the field of mental health or addiction, this young man’s lack of knowledge also spilled into the jobs he listed on his resume. Included in the resume was a post he held at a law firm, where the attorneys terminated him for being a “no show” just seven months into the position. Like many young…

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Fake Street Pills Made With Deadly Opiates Now Common

People addicted to Oxycontin often resort to desperate measures, including buying their pills on the street. Unfortunately, addicted persons who buy these pills are discovering that they're fake street pills. They are now being linked to carfentanil and cyclopropyl fentanyl overdoses in New Jersey and across the country.  New Jersey is just one of many states that has experienced deadly incidents of street pills – typically sold as Oxycontin or Hydrocodone -- giving their users more than they bargained for. Luckily, in Holmdel and Long Branch New Jersey, investigators were able to seize the pills before anyone got hurt – as far as they know, anyway. (It takes months for a state Bureau of investigation to tally the figures that include deaths from any illicit drugs.) The seizure was made last week, and the oxycodone pills were found to not contain oxycodone at all. In fact, they contained carfentanil, a synthetic opiate that is 10,000 times as strong as morphine. The drug is so strong that a non-drug user…

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Across the US, Diversion Programs Spread Hope

As Americans become more aware that addiction is a disease and not a crisis of character, law enforcement and the judicial system have started to stand up and take notice. Rather than lock up the masses of people with a substance abuse disorder, many law enforcement agencies now offer diversion programs. Diversion programs are run in different ways, but they all focus on helping an addicted person improve their lives and hopefully break free from their disease. One such example is a program that has been in place for 10 years, in Essex Massachusetts. Started by a DA personally affected by the opioid epidemic, a total of 117 people from 22 communities took part in the drug diversion program in 2016, with a success rate averages 40 to 50 percent. (In the world of substance abuse disorders, this is an excellent rate. Treating these issues can be incredibly challenging.) The DA goes over cases that are drug-related to find arrestees that may have suffered from addiction. From there, they…

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