CVS Limits Opioid Prescriptions to 7 Days

(CNN) In a new effort to tackle the deadly opioid addiction crisis in the United States, pharmacy giant CVS announced Friday that it will limit opioid prescriptions to seven days for certain conditions. This restriction will apply to patients who are new to pain therapy.

The new pharmacy program will also limit the daily dosage of pain pills based on their strength and will require use of immediate-release formulations before extended-release opioids — intended for severe, long-term pain treatment — are dispensed. The changes will roll out February 1 and cover all commercial, health plan, employer and Medicaid clients.

CVS, which manages medications for nearly 90 million plan members, is one of the largest pharmaceutical chains in the US, with approximately 9,600 CVS Pharmacy stores and more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics.

“With a presence in nearly 10,000 communities across the country, we see firsthand the impact of the alarming and rapidly growing epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse,” said Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health.

Sales of prescription opioids quadruple from 1999 to 2014

From 1999 to 2014, sales of prescription opioids in the US almost quadrupled, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, yet there has been no change in pain reported by Americans.

CVS said its pharmacists will counsel patients with opioid prescriptions about the risk of dependence and addiction based on CDC guidelines. These educational sessions will also emphasize the importance of keeping medications secure in the home and proper disposal of unused medications.
To help patients wanting to follow these guidelines, the company will almost double the number of drug disposal units in its Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program from 800 to 1,550 kiosks. This expansion will begin this fall with locations in Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and the District of Columbia.

These moves put CVS’s pharmacy program more in line with the CDC’s opioid prescribing guidelines. Express Scripts, the country’s largest pharmacy benefits manager, has similar limits in place.

An ‘impactful’ move?

“I think it’s going to be helpful. I think it’s going to be impactful,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, who saw the announcement as more than a public relations move. “It will be expensive. … This will be a real administrative burden” for CVS, he said.
Studies have found that longer prescription durations, as well as higher dosages, increase the likelihood of chronic use. CVS’s steps are meant to curb not just potential long-term opioid use but also potential opioid misuse.

“There are millions of prescription bottles sitting in our bathroom cabinets and on our bedroom nightstands right now, including far too many prescription opioids that ultimately are used non-medically,” said Dr. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness.

“We’ve been watching the epidemic get worse, hidden in plain sight, for far too long, and these types of policies are necessary to reduce the incredible oversupply of prescription opioids,” Alexander said.

Balancing patients’ needs

The American Academy of Pain Medicine “supports any initiative that would help limit the effects of over prescribing medications or leading to excessive unused medicines that could lead to harm to a patient or family members or their community,” said Dr. Steven Stanos, president of the academy.

Stanos worries that CVS’s recommendations could be interpreted too rigidly and affect patients. “We would want it to balance the needs of the patient and doesn’t intrude on the relationship between the patient and the physician and how they made that decision,” Stanos said.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Dr. Patrice Harris, chairwoman of the American Medical Association’s opioids task force. “When patients seek physician help for an opioid use disorder — or need comprehensive care for chronic pain — one-size-fits-all limits, such as blanket prior authorization protocols, may cause delays in care that could severely harm patients,” she said.

CVS said its guidelines are flexible and recognize that there maybe situations that require more than a seven-day prescription or a higher-dose opioid. For times like those, physicians will be able to seek exceptions.

CVS is also committing $2 million to federally qualified community health centers that provide medication-assisted treatment and other addiction recovery services.

The President’s opioid commission says that about 142 Americans die every day from a drug overdose, equal to the death toll from the September 11 attacks every three weeks. Most of those overdoses are from opioids.

Though there were over 30,000 fatal overdoses from opioid drugs in 2015, public health experts believe that for every fatal overdose, there are 30 non-fatal overdoses. That would mean over 900,000 overdoses in 2015 alone.

According to the CDC, drug overdoses are the leading cause of unintentional death in the US.

Faces of an Epidemic: Stories of the Victims of America’s Opioid Crisis

Faces of an Epidemic: Stories of the Victims of America’s Opioid Crisis — and the Fight to Save Lives

By @stevehelling and

Jack and Hunt Freeman were Texas brothers with a lot going for them. Hunt, 26, was a charismatic salesman at a Harley Davidson shop; Jack, 29, worked as a golf assistant at an upscale country club.

But the two also liked to party with alcohol and recreational drugs — first using marijuana and cocaine in high school and, later, moving on to heroin.

The brothers entered rehab multiple times, but neither could stay clean for long. On Valentine’s Day, Hunt fatally overdosed, sending Jack into a drug-fueled tailspin.

Three months later he overdosed, too.

“I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what we’ve been through,” their mother, Kim Freeman, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue in a special report on the opioid crisis in America.

“To lose two children,” Freeman says, “is unimaginable.”

Heroin and other opioids are claiming lives throughout the U.S. at a staggering rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control, drug overdoses now kill more Americans than either guns or car accidents: 52,000 in 2015 alone, the most recent year for which statistics are available.

One person dies of an overdose every 10 minutes.

The vast majority of those deaths, approximately 80 percent, have taken place in white communities. Experts suggest this is in part because white Americans generally have better access to health care and are more likely to be prescribed narcotics, and research shows that four in five heroin users first abused prescription pills.

People become addicted to drugs such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin while being treated for a medical condition and then seek out more pills — or heroin — on the street when their prescription runs out.

“This problem of addiction truly does start in the medicine cabinet,” Russ Baer, a special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration, tells PEOPLE. “It starts with the misuse and abuse of prescription opioid painkillers.”

A few of the people who overdosed on opioids in America (left to right, starting from top left): Katie Golden, 17; Garrett Moody, 27; Alison Collins, 22; Clyde Henderson, 62; Jacklyn Mastromauro, 29; Robert Mapps, 22; William Godwin II, 47; Samantha Roser, 23; Wolf Schinzel Sr., 47; Analicia Sutherland, 21; Ethan Beck, 26; Constance Crawford, 24; Ashley Nunnally, 26; Richard Cosner, 30; Celeste Tumminello, 25; Bryan Clay, 27; Jessica Caruso, 36 and Jack Freeman, 29.

What addiction is not, according to one retired police commander, is “a character flaw.”

The death rate from overdoses of heroin and prescription painkillers has more than quadrupled since 1999, prompting thousands of Americans to take action, including Philadelphia librarian Chera Kowalski and Stop the Heroin co-founder Bill Schmincke.

Kowalski, 33, was raised by parents who faced their own struggles with heroin. After witnessing an overdose on library property, she was trained, along with 25 other staffers, to administer Narcan, a nasal spray used for the emergency treatment of opioid overdoses.

In the past year she says she has saved six lives — providing six more chances for recovery.

“Once we can tell the Narcan works, there’s a huge sense of relief,” she says. “It provides me with hope that if they live, they have the opportunity to seek treatment, because long-term recovery is possible.”

Schmincke, 52, of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, began the nonprofit Stop the Heroin with his wife, Tammy, after watching son Steven spiral from occasional marijuana use into a severe opioid addiction that landed him in rehab several times.

“He was a good kid; the drugs just got him,” Schmincke says.

“We’re about awareness now,” he says of their organization, which helps people transition from rehab to sober living. “We’d like to bring light to people who don’t understand addiction. They think these people out there are junkies and drug addicts, which they’re not. They’re in the grasp of a demon.”

Alcohol Withdrawal Complications Led to Heart Failure

True Blood’ Star Nelsan Ellis – Alcohol Withdrawal Complications Led to Heart Failure.

Nelsan Ellis’ heart failure was triggered by alcohol withdrawal complications.

The “True Blood” star’s family said Nelsan — who died Saturday — struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for years and his latest attempt to withdraw from booze on his own led to his death.

The family said, “During his withdrawal from alcohol he had a blood infection, his kidneys shut down, his liver was swollen, his blood pressure plummeted, and his dear sweet heart raced out of control.”

The family went on to say Nelsan “was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life. His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.”

Ohio County Now Tops U.S. in Overdose Deaths

‘Mass-Casualty Event’: Ohio County Now Tops U.S. in Overdose Deaths

by Jacob Soboroff

DAYTON, Ohio — Officials in Montgomery County, Ohio, blame America’s opioid crisis for an ignoble title: the overdose capital of America.

“We’re on a pace to have 800 people die this year due to overdose in our county,” Sheriff Phil Plummer told NBC News. “Per capita, we’re Number 1 in the nation in overdose deaths.”

Overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 — they now claim more lives than car crashes, gun deaths and the AIDS virus did at their peaks.

In recent years, the synthetic opioid fentanyl been flooding Dayton and other American cities, trafficked by Mexican cartels who have turned the extremely potent drug into a money-maker.

In Ohio, it has sent the death toll surging. According to data from the Montgomery County coroner, 365 people died of drug overdoses from January through and May of this year; 371 people died of such causes in all of last year.

Related: What Is Fentanyl? The Drug That Killed Prince Has Killed Thousands of Others

On any given day, Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies respond to multiple overdose calls and are equipped with Narcan, or naloxone, a nasal spray that counteracts the effects of a drug overdose.

Each deputy carries two doses, but that isn’t always enough to save lives. One deputy said that more than 20 doses were needed to revive a recent victim and that victims often don’t survive.

The death toll has overwhelmed the coroner, who tests for more than two dozen varieties of fentanyl during autopsies, and the county morgue’s body cooler is consistently filled with overdose victims.

Coroner Kent Harshbarger estimates that 60 percent to 70 percent of the bodies he sees are those of overdose victims and that by the end of the year, he’ll have processed 2,000.

Because his staff covers one-fifth of Ohio, he estimates that the state will see 10,000 overdoses by the end of 2017 — more than were recorded in the entire United States in 1990.

“This is no different than some kind of mass-casualty event in any other form. It’s just a medical event,” Harshbarger said in a hallway just steps from several autopsy rooms that doctors were walking in and out of. “It needs to be recognized that way to bring some federal assets to help us.”

4 dead, at least a dozen hospitalized after mass overdose in Georgia

The Georgia Department of Public Health said as of Wednesday morning, six more overdose cases possibly related to fake Percocet were reported. None of these cases have been confirmed as overdoses related to the street drugs.

Georgia Poison Center is currently working with the hospitals and gathering more information to determine whether these additional cases are connected to the cluster of overdoses reported in the past three days.

State and local investigators are fanning out to catch those who sold street drugs linked to dozens of overdoses, include four fatal in Central Georgia.

Emergency workers responded in the last 48 hours to reports of overdoses in Centerville, Perry and Warner Robins, according to the GBI. However, the drugs might also have been sold on the street in other areas of the state.

Doctor are eagerly awaiting toxicology tests to find out what is in these pills that triggered this mass overdose.

They worry about the possibility of more cases if this drug is still on the streets.

“Difficulty breathing, slurred speech, most are coming through the ambulance,” Dr. Chris Hendry said.

The chief medical officer describes the symptoms of the rash of overdose patients that have arrived at a Macon hospital in the last 48 hours.

They all had one thing in common, they took pills that they thought were pharmaceutical quality pain meds. They were wrong.

Ohio Attorney General Sues 5 Drugmakers Over Opiate Crisis

Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio attorney general sued five drugmakers on Wednesday, accusing the companies of perpetrating the state’s addictions epidemic by intentionally misleading patients about the dangers of painkillers and promoting benefits of the drugs not backed by science.

Attorney General Mike DeWine said the companies created a deadly mess in Ohio that they now need to pay to clean up.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine

“This lawsuit is about justice, it’s about fairness, it’s about what is right,” DeWine said in announcing the complaint filed in Ross County, a southern Ohio community slammed by fatal drug overdoses from painkillers and heroin. A record 3,050 Ohioans died from drug overdoses in 2015, a figure expected to jump sharply once 2016 figures are tallied.

DeWine wants an injunction stopping the companies from their alleged misconduct and damages for money the state spent on opiates sold and marketed in Ohio. The attorney general also wants customers repaid for unnecessary opiate prescriptions for chronic pain.

“These drug companies knew that what they were doing was wrong and they did it anyway,” DeWine said.

The drugmakers sued by DeWine are Purdue Pharma; Endo Health Solutions; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, and its subsidiary, Cephalon; Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals; and Allergan.

They variously manufacture OxyContin, Percocet and a host of other painkillers that DeWine said represent the heart of the problem.

Christina Arredondo said her 24-year-old pregnant daughter, Felicia Detty, died after a painkiller addiction led to heroin and overdose. She said she’s hopeful the Ohio lawsuit can begin to curtail the epidemic by fighting it “from the top.”

“It’s not like they’re going out to buy some cocaine on the street,” she said. “They’re going to the doctor for a torn ligament in their shoulder, or migraines, or having a tooth pulled.”

Janssen on Wednesday called the lawsuit’s accusations legally and factually unfounded. The company said it acted appropriately, responsibly and in the best interests of patients.

Another defendant, Purdue Pharma, said it shares DeWine’s concerns about the opiate crisis and is committed to working together on a solution. It won’t say if it’s challenging the lawsuit.

Teva Pharmaceuticals says it’s still reviewing the lawsuit and is unable to comment.

Endo declined comment. A message was left seeking comment with Allergan.

DeWine, a Republican expected to run for governor next year, joins other states that have filed similar lawsuits. His move comes after years of calls for such action by Ohio Democrats.

Democratic candidate Nan Whaley, Dayton’s mayor, is airing online video spots in which she criticizes sitting Republicans for doing too little to solve the heroin and opioid epidemic. Whaley says taking on drug companies for their role in the crisis will be her highest priority as governor.

Another gubernatorial contender, Democratic state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, said he had previously called for such an action.

“I hope that whatever financial settlement this lawsuit might bring will be put toward helping the victims of this epidemic,” he said. “In the meantime, the General Assembly must do more to provide the resources our counties desperately need now for drug treatment and other services.”

In 2015, Kentucky settled a similar lawsuit with Purdue Pharma for $24 million.

Oregon reached a settlement in 2015 with opioid painkiller manufacturer Insys for off-label promotion of Subsys, a fentanyl spray more powerful than heroin. It was also among 27 states that reached a settlement with Purdue, the maker of OxyContin, in 2007.

Tiger Woods told police after his DUI charge that he has prescriptions for 4 drugs — here’s what they do

Tiger Woods DUITiger Woods told police after his DUI charge that he has prescriptions for 4 drugs — here’s what they do

Police arrested and charged Tiger Woods was with DUI at 3 a.m. on Monday morning, citing “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications.” The police report indicated that Woods was found asleep in his car while it was running. An alcohol breathalyzer test showed Woods had a blood alcohol level of 0.00, but his arrest report indicates he was taking four prescription medications at various points in the past few years, most of which are typically prescribed for pain.

The officers recorded (and likely misspelled) these as “soloxex,” “torix,” “viox,” and Vicodin, according to The Palm Beach Post.

Vicodin, the brand name for a painkiller that combines the opiate hydrocodone with the over-the-counter pain reliever acetaminophen (or Tylenol), is a Schedule II substance due to its high potential for addiction. Its side effects can include confusion, depressed breathing, and drowsiness.

Torix, which is most likely a misspelling of Turox, is a brand name for another pain- and swelling-relief drug called etoricoxib. The drug is illegal in the US; its side effects can include fatigue and chest pain.

Vioxx, a brand name drug that Woods indicated he had not taken within the past year, was discontinued in 2004 after being linked to heart issues. It was used to reduce swelling.

Over the course of his career, Woods likely struggled with pain. He not only injured his knees, legs, and back playing golf, but also underwent multiple surgeries for those injuries and crashed a car. While we don’t know how he or his physicians chose to manage his pain, we do know that prescriptions for pain medications, including opioid painkillers, are common in such situations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of people who undergo surgery get an opioid prescription.

Woods’ non-opioid prescriptions also come with side effects —  while less severe than those that accompany Vicodin, the effects can include fatigue and confusion.

Why We ‘Self-Medicate’ Our Own Depression or Anxiety

This is mental health awareness month. Which means, in my experience, that it is still, to some extent at least, alcohol awareness month. Many people who suffer with undiagnosed depression or anxiety reach for alcohol or drugs to calm their nerves or relieve them of emotional pain. In other words, they self-medicate. Rather than seek out some help in managing depression, anxiety or chronic resentment, they seek their own solution — a solution which, while it works pretty well for a while, eventually complicates the issues and leads to more pain. It’s the same sort of premise as having access to your own morphine drip: You administer your own dose whenever you begin to feel pain.

Hiding in Plain Sight
Many people can get rid of temporary pain by having a couple of drinks and calming down in the evening, say, or by knocking back some “liquid courage” before facing a social event. For some, there’s no more to it than this, and their use of alcohol remains fairly benign. But for another group, a group that is larger than any one cares to admit, the solution slips into a dependency, and the dependency slips into an addiction. Slowly, this group becomes trapped in their own solution. Not only can they not quite face an evening without some “help,” but their own healthy coping strategies begin to atrophy through lack of use. And as they increasingly depend more and more on a substance to change their mood, their relationship with that substance comes to have a life of its own. Pretty soon you aren’t really sure who you are talking to at dinner: Is it the person you remember or that person “under the influence”? Is it the “booze talking” expansively, angrily, or overly confidently, or is it them?

The connection between alcohol/drugs and mental health is not made enough and cannot be made too often. Once a using pattern begins, often innocently enough, it can come to have a life of its own. No longer is the person downing a drink — now the drink is downing the person.

And then there is the rest of the family, the people who don’t make it to the front page of any tabloid because they are not the ones with the “problem,” but for every one one person alcohol and drugs take, there are seven or eight others in the wings, seven or eight others who lives are profoundly affected by living with another person’s addiction, another person’s mysterious medicated depression or their strange anxiety that liquor turns into something else, something much harder to recognize, accept or reason with. The addict’s disease becomes disguised, hidden beneath the ritual of cocktails. Their long dinners lingering over bottles of wine, their diatribes on politics, their strange and singular possession of a subject that they cannot seem to let go of and have to remain in control of lest the pain they are seeping out through it, leaking slowly onto everyone else, break loose somehow and get all over everything. Their addiction is morphing into odd behavior, twisted thinking, lack of empathy for those around them. It is so strange being around someone who uses alcohol or drugs to manage inner pain, resentment or anxiety because they, more than anyone, are convinced of their own rightness. They are brittle on the subject of their increasing use, on any subject for that matter. They take over the dinner conversation, drive delicate points way too hard, go on long and tedious harangues about which they appear to have unduly strong feelings. Their eyes slowly glaze over and you know that they do not fully see you, or care to see you. But the person they really do not see is themselves. They are hiding in plain sight. Caught on a wheel of self-medication that rolls its way through the person, across the dinner table and along the path of the next generation.

The Endless Cycle
When alcohol or drugs are used as our “go to” for getting through difficult moments, managing social or interpersonal anxiety or managing real, emotional pain, a self-destructive cycle gets going that looks something like this.

1. There is something that is bothering us, a down mood we can’t shake, a social or personal anxiety that keeps us anxious or a depressed/angry feeling we don’t know how to manage.

2. We discover that 1-3 drinks or maybe some pot or even a drug really takes the edge off. We feel lighter, less self-conscious, more confident and able to cope. We’re less anxious, worried or down.

3. The more we use these “solutions” to cope, the less we learn to cope on our own, we become dependent on a substance to manage our inner world and less able to manage it on our own.

4. Our dependency nags at the corners of our mind. We’re not ready to admit to it, so we develop little ways of hiding it, first from ourselves and then, of course, from others. The more silently anxious we become, the greater our need for our drink or drug (or behavior, sex or money addiction, for example) to cope.

5. Our dependency deepens, our anxiety about our dependency deepens, our wish to hide it deepens. We live further and further away from our own inner truth. The further we are away from self-honestly, the less likely we are to admit we have a problem. And the more we rely on alcohol or drugs to hide our growing shame. And the more we look for excuses under which to hide our behavior.

6. Life complications. About this time other people are noticing that something isn’t right. Others become preoccupied with the “problem that cannot be talked about.” Now we not only have the initial anxiety or depression that was driving the wish for self medication, but we have a growing dependency on a substance or behavior.

7. Addicts’ inner pain, shame and loss of self honestly becomes more painful to them, consequently their need to self medicate to drown that inner pain increases. Their use and abuse increases, their pain and shame increases, their hiding and projecting increases.

8. Addiction takes hold and this cycle is repeated over and over and over again. And the more pain, the more projection.

About this time, the addict (and too often the spouse of the addict, who can be very invested in keeping the growing problem hidden) start looking for scapegoats. They may throw the hot potato a generation forward onto kids. Couples can unite and choose a child as a scapegoat, they make more than necessary of a kid’s problems and project the “hot potato” onto them. Or they may throw it a generation back into their family of origin, getting unduly preoccupied with their parents or siblings problems. Or the addict has subjects that come to be more soap box rants than interests or discussions — they project their inner angst at the world at large, anything to get rid of the pain inside of them, any port in a storm. All of this is silently designed to keep the microscope away from them. To keep people from looking at what is really going on, and for the addict, to keep from having to part with their now beloved substance, behavior or “solution.” They are hooked, and they in one way or another hook everyone around them.

The cycle of self-medicating emotional or psychological pain such as depression or anxiety with drugs, alcohol or addictive behaviors gains traction and rolls through the generations. But no one knows quite what is happening or why.

Drug OD deaths nearly tripled since 1999, CDC says

Drug overdose deaths have nearly tripled in the United States since 1999, with whites and middle-aged Americans bearing much of the brunt, a new government report shows.

More than 16 out of every 100,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2015, compared to just over 6 in 1999, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

Heroin and other opioids accounted for about half of these deaths, a reflection of the damage wrought by the prescription painkiller epidemic this decade, said Dr. Edwin Salsitz, an addiction medicine specialist.

Overdose deaths are so common that they’re driving down the average life expectancy for white Americans, said Salsitz, who is with Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.

The CDC report, released Feb. 24, found that drug overdose deaths have risen among whites at a rate of about 7 percent each year, compared with 2 percent a year for blacks and Hispanics. The overdose death rate among whites in 2015 was nearly 3.5 times the rate it was in 1999.

“Life expectancy of whites in America is going down, whereas it’s not going down for other racial or ethnic groups,” Salsitz said. “Accounting for that lower life expectancy is the increased number of overdose deaths from opioids.”

Drug overdose deaths increased from 1999 to 2015 in all age groups, but adults aged 45 to 54 had the highest death rate — about 30 fatalities for every 100,000 people.

The report confirms what has been widely suspected about the progression of the prescription opioid crisis in the United States, said Salsitz and Lindsey Vuolo, an associate director at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

Prescription drug abuse reached epidemic levels earlier this decade, prompting a crackdown by regulators, drug makers, pharmacists and physicians.

Closer prescription tracking made it harder for addicts to “doctor shop” for prescription opioids like morphine, oxycodone and codeine. Pharmaceutical companies also introduced tamper-resistant forms of the medications that couldn’t be crushed or altered in ways that provided a stronger, quicker hit for drug abusers, Salsitz explained.

But the success of those efforts prompted prescription drug addicts to switch to heroin, which is cheaper and more available on the street, Salsitz and Vuolo said. To make matters worse, drug dealers started cutting heroin with even cheaper and more potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl, further increasing the risk of overdose and death.

“Because heroin and synthetic opioids are cheaper than prescription opioids and more widely available in certain areas hit hard by the epidemic, a singular focus on reducing accessibility to prescription opioids misses the mark,” Vuolo said.

Heroin accounted for one-quarter of overdose deaths in 2015 — triple the rate in 2010, said report author Dr. Holly Hedegaard, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Other opioids — both synthetic and natural — such as oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) accounted for another 24 percent of overdose deaths in 2015, down from 29 percent in 2010.

Four states — West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Ohio — lead the nation with the highest overdose death rates, the CDC said.

Those states also have been identified as having high rates of death from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, Vuolo added.

“This suggests that there is greater supply of synthetic opioids in certain areas and because they are more lethal than heroin or prescription opioids, they are contributing to the increases in overdose death rates,” Vuolo said.

To try to stop overdose deaths, access has been increased to naloxone (Narcan), a drug used to reverse an opioid overdose, Vuolo said.

But doctors are releasing people saved by naloxone directly from the hospital rather than steering them into drug treatment, leaving them vulnerable to another overdose, she said.

“There is a very high risk of overdose recurrence when an overdose is reversed but the individual is then released from medical care,” Vuolo said. By comparison, she noted, someone who has a heart attack receives extensive medical care to prevent it from happening again.

Vuolo and Salsitz said policy makers also need to take steps to make addiction-fighting medications like buprenorphine more easily available, so health professionals can treat the underlying drug habit.

Recently approved federal legislation will allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine. “That’s going to really open up drug treatment, particularly in underserved areas,” Salsitz said.

 

Michael Lohan Fights to Help Drug Addicts

Lindsay Lohan’s father, Michael Lohan, thinks drug addicts should be forced to take opiate-blocking drugs.

In a letter to President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, Lohan — a recovering addict and a counselor with the Long Island Teen Challenge rehabilitation program — wrote, “This epidemic is threatening our country far worse than the threat posed by Muslims trying to enter this country.”

“As a matter of fact, more people died this year alone due to drug use, alcoholism and the illegal things going on in the treatment industry than all the terroristic activities in the United States in the last 20 years,” wrote Michael Lohan, 56.

“All we’re doing is replacing illegal heroin sold by dealers with prescription heroin (Suboxone) written by doctors,” Lohan said. “Once they overdose, we hopefully bring them back to life with Narcan.” Then the addicts start abusing drugs again.

The best treatment is Naltrexone, a proven opiate- and alcohol-blocker, Lohan said. “Has the government ever even considered making compounds like Naltrexone mandatory as part of treatment plans? No!”

For more information contact Vivitrol  provider Dr. Steven Scanlan

Palm Beach Outpatient Detox
7251 W. Palmetto Park Rd.
Suite 204
Boca Raton, FL 33433
(561) 901-0040