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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Single-Step Naloxone Most Effective in Reversing Overdoses

Addiction professionals and first responders cope with a lot of variables when responding to an overdose, but nothing has changed the outcomes of emergency calls like Naloxone (also known as Narcan), an opioid antagonist drug that has the power to reverse overdoses. There are several versions of Naloxone delivery available. However, research has revealed that the single-step nasal inhaler seems to be most effective at reversing overdoses, according to new research led by faculty at Binghamton University, State University at New York. In the past few years, expanded access to naloxone has saved thousands of lives by reversing fatal overdoses in people with opioid use disorder. While many people who overdose are not ready for help yet, others identify the moment their overdose occurred as a pivotal point in their life that helped them choose to get into recovery. Law enforcement and other first responders carry the drug on them all the time, especially in places like Ohio where overdoses take place in parking lots and other public spaces.…

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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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Synthetic Cannabinoid Drugs Cause Bleeding, Injury Nationwide

Synthetic cannabinoid drugs like K2, Spice and other similar formulations of what is often called “fake marijuana” have now caused bleeding in several states across the US, in what officials say is a growing trend of additives that contain rat poison. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), the CDC and several health departments in many states are actively investigating cases of severe bleeding among people who have used synthetic cannabinoid products –which are both sold on the street and sometimes as shady gas stations in certain cities. It’s believed that this bad batch of products is tainted with Warfarin or a similar drug used to kill rats – essentially a blood thinner that causes internal bleeding and bruising. People have been hospitalized in Ohio and North Carolina for bleeding eyes, ears, and other internal severe damage. In fact, since March, 0ver 200 people in Illinois and other states have suffered from bleeding disorders. If you or anyone you know has purchased any synthetic cannabinoid product…

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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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