Heroin Users Need Help Not Incarceration
The heroin epidemic in the United States is almost hard to comprehend, especially since the nation has a history of facing narcotic scourges. The rates of abuse and overdoses deaths are staggering, calling on officials to rethink how they look at and deal with substance abuse.
On the eastern seaboard and Appalachian region, officials have seen an unprecedented rate of addiction. Public rehabilitation services are overflowing, infectious disease continues to spread and more people lose their lives with each day that passes.
In Pennsylvania, eight people overdosed on heroin in 70 minutes, in a county of 200,000 people, The Washington Post reports. The rush of overdoses was not the result of a bad batch of the drug or negligent dosing practices among users; it was simply an example of what is resulting from a dramatic rise in heroin use (it is possible that fentanyl was involved). Sadly, more than eight people would overdose that day, in 24 hours there were 16 overdoses in all, and 25 over a two day period.
While three people lost their lives, no question a tragedy, it is worth noting that others were saved by opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone – sold under the brand name Narcan ®. It probably goes without saying, that this recent incident underscores the need for increased naloxone access – especially because the problem does not appear to be subsiding anytime soon.
“There’s been a progressive increase in overdoses the last two years, and it just went out of control,” said Rick Gluth, supervising detective on the district attorney’s drug task force. “I’ve been a police officer for 27 years and worked narcotics for the last 15, and this is the worst. I’d be glad to have the crack epidemic back.”
In the past, users would be incarcerated for their acts, but this does little to address the problem of addiction. Approaching addiction as a disease has more and more states offering treatment over jail. The U.S. attorney for western Pennsylvania and co-chair of the National Heroin Task Force established by the Justice Department, David J. Hickton, believes users need help not incarceration, according to the article.
“There is a growing sense of community outrage that we can’t accept this like we are accepting it,” said Hickton. “We just can’t go on like this.”
“If they’re using and trafficking, I prosecute them,” he said. “If they’re just using, they need help.”
If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin addiction, please contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.
Public Schools Screen for Substance Abuse
A number of states across the country have seen a dramatic rise in overdose deaths related to prescription opioids or heroin. Naturally, as the affected states work to combat this crisis there is a lot of concern about teenage substance abuse. In Massachusetts, a state which saw more than 1,000 overdose deaths last year, child advocates are calling for substance abuse screening in public schools, WBUR reports. Screenings could help school nurses identify the students who may be in need of help before a problem gets even more out of hand.
School nurses already screen for hearing and vision problems, why not add substance abuse screening to the list? Currently, eight schools in MA have already started screening, with seven more districts expected to follow this fall, according to the article.
“Similar to the way they do hearing and eye tests, all with the goal that this is a normal process where kids are brought into their nursing offices and given a screening,” said Mary McGeown, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Identifying a problem early on could potentially save the lives of teens who might look to opioids for their next high. Many teens are unaware just how addictive and life threatening these types of drugs can be.
“In about 10 percent of the cases there is brief counseling, that the individual reports that they have used alcohol or have used marijuana,” said McGeown.
“In a very, very small percentage of those 10 percent, really 1 or 2 percent, there’s a referral to treatment,” she added. “And it’s at that point that a parent would be called.” Lawmakers are meeting today to discuss a bill that would take the program statewide.
If you are currently struggling with opioids and are need of help, please do not hesitate to contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.
Prescription Drug Overdose Deaths Rise in 26 States
In a number of states, especially the ones hardest hit by prescription opioid abuse, drastic measure have been taken to curb the problem. While such efforts have shown promise, such as prescription drug monitoring programs and greater access to naloxone, many states are still seeing a rise in overdose deaths. New research suggests that the number of drug overdose deaths rose in 26 states between 2009 and 2013, Reuters reports. Only six states saw a decrease in overdose deaths during the same time period.
The study was conducted by the nonprofit group Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Their findings indicated that an estimated 44,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2013, a figure which is more than double the number found in 1999. Drug overdoses were responsible for more deaths in 36 states than motor vehicle-related deaths, according to the article.
In 2013, almost 52 percent of overdose deaths were related to prescription drugs. The two types of prescription drugs that were linked to the majority of overdoses were opioid painkillers and benzodiazepine anti-anxiety medications, such as OxyContin ® (oxycodone) and Xanax ® (alprazolam). The study found that more than 16,000 deaths were related to opioids and almost 7,000 were tied to benzodiazepines and sleep medications.
The report clearly shows the need for more access and training to the life saving overdose reversal drug naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan ®. There are 34 states and D.C. which have laws in place to expand access to, and use of, naloxone, according to the study.
Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment
If you are currently struggling with prescription drugs, and are need of help, please do not hesitate to contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.
Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation