Author: Justin Mckibben
Narcan, or the generic version Naloxone, is the opioid overdose antidote that we have heard so much about in recent years. The opioid epidemic has left us no choice but to talk about it. While opioid addiction spreads, the overdose death rates skyrocket and community leaders all over the country are trying to find ways to expand access to Narcan and Naloxone. Now some advocates in South Florida, and specifically in Palm Beach County, are pushing for discussion on having Narcan in schools.
This isn’t a brand new concept, and it obviously doesn’t come out of the blue. There is a steadily growing number of kids prescribed legal pain killers, especially after the FDA ruled to allow OxyContin to be prescribed to children 11 years old and up back in 2015.
So with the conversation trying to get off the ground, we might want to take a serious look at the benefits of such resources. This is not the first time the question has been raised about utilizing the overdose antidote in schools, so is it a good idea or not?
Examples of Narcan in School
There are already several states across the country that use Naloxone and Narcan in schools. State programs are set up differently, with some requiring the medication and others leaving it to individual school districts to set their own requirements. Just a few examples of states with Narcan in the classroom include:
January of this year Ohio Governor Kasich signed a bill making it possible to have Narcan in schools and homeless shelters. Just this week there was a 5 to 1 vote in Akron, Ohio by the Akron Public Schools Board of Education that passed a motion for police officers who work in the district’s middle schools and high schools to be equipped with Narcan in district buildings.
A law passed during the legislative session allows West Virginia schools to stock opioid antagonists, such as Narcan and Naloxone, for drug overdoses.
The state of New York has a program set up to provide Narcan in schools for free. So far 64 districts are participating in the narcan expansion program.
In 2016 there were 268 schools in the Pennsylvania Public High Schools system approved for Narcan intranasal kits from Adapt Pharma for free.
Also back in 2016, the Illinois General Assembly voted to override the Governor’s veto of a bill to allow Narcan in schools so nurses have access. The Illinois legislation specifically authorizes school nurses to administer the drug to anyone they believe may be suffering an opioid overdose.
Every middle school, junior high and high school is required to have a stock of naloxone on the premises.
The kicker is there are currently no programs for Narcan in Florida schools.
Palm Beach County Debate
Of course with programs like these we will always see some standing against it saying it promotes, or at least enables, illicit drug use by students. However, there are plenty of others who have stood on the fron lines and seen how opioid addiction can stem from legal and innocent beginnings. Maureen Kielian is one advocate who spoke up about the possibility of Narcan in schools recently, stating:
“My son became addicted to legally prescribed opioids,”
South Florida Recovery Advocates is a group actively advocating for schools to have Narcan, and Maureen has joined the fight to make a difference for kids like her son. Kielian states,
“We are on it. We just need cooperation from our leaders to save lives,”
Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche plans to meet with local law enforcement officials and school leaders to try and pursue a future Narcan program for the South Florida schools. He acknowledges that the biggest hurdle may be funding, but Valeche insists that saving lives is more important. He and other advocates understand the cost is nowhere near the value of a life.
While schools try to get their hands on an antidote that might save the lives of their students, people everywhere are still fighting for their lives. Don’t wait for an overdose to get help. Make the choice now. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Naloxone expansion is something we consistently see as a topic of discussion. Naloxone, or the name-brand Narcan, is an opioid overdose antidote that is in high demand as one of the primary tools in the fight against the ongoing overdose outbreak. Law makers and law enforcement agencies have joined with community organizations and pharmacy companies in trying to provide this medication to more and more people.
New legislation across the U.S. has made access to Naloxone more common than ever. Now, the drive for Naloxone expansion is leading us to another avenue. This is beyond supplying the families of addicts, the addicts themselves and first responders.
Some may remember, back in September, the Food and Drug Administration launched a competition to app developers in the name of improving resources for naloxone expansion. The contest was seeking a mobile app for connecting people experiencing a drug overdose with someone nearby who can administer naloxone. With technology being used to expedite just about everything in our world, it only made sense to use it to help save lives if possible.
The winner of the Naloxone App Competition has been announced this month, and the $40,000 cash prize has been claimed. Their mission: to make it possible for more people to be first responders for opiate overdoses.
The OD Help App
The winning app is the OD Help App, creared by Team PwrdBy, a small start-up in Venice, California. The start-up’s CEO Jared Sheehan says this innovation stems from the idea of making naloxone assistance as available as ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. With Uber and Lyft drivers being so spread out, the idea is the app could cover a lot more ground and reach more people in the event of opioid overdose.
Sheehan says there’s still a lot of work to be done before the app is made available to the public. To implement this kind of program with Uber or Lyft, it would require reaching out and coordinating with ride-sharing companies. Sheehan stated:
“Is there a way if every Uber driver had a naloxone kit in the back of their car, that you could call someone and they’d be able to come over and administer naloxone?”
So in essence, the idea of the OD Help app would be to be able to alert naloxone carriers of an overdose (OD) and give them the option of being dispatched to help revive someone experiencing the overdose.
Expanding Team PwrdBy Naloxone Plan
According to Sheehan, ride-sharing apps are just one avenue that Team PwrdBy is setting its sights on. The company is also exploring more traditional distribution systems.
One such method Team PwrdBy wants to look to for inspiration for the OD Help app is the AED network, the automated external defibrillators network across schools. The goal is to better comprehend how these programs are funded and distributed. Modeling after an already successful style of expanded access for other emergency medical supplies may be vital to changing the way we expand naloxone access.
All of this is to save as many lives as possible.
How OD Help Works
The OD Help app connects opioid users with a crowd-sourced network of naloxone carriers. Using GPS, it specifically connects someone who may experience an overdose with someone nearby who has access to naloxone. The app is also able to be personalize to the user’s specifications. One feature lets you set it up so in the event of an overdose the app would only alert people in your selected support network. And naloxone carriers can disable alerts if they are not able to respond.
Another feature available with the OD Help app is a breathing monitor. This can be helpful for people who use opioids alone. It gives the app a way to communicate with others when the user can’t. The wearable monitor is able to detect if the individual’s breathing rate is dangerously low, a sign of overdose. In this case the OD Help app automatically alerts a naloxone carrier nearby.
The app also features information on:
- How to correctly identify an overdose
- How to administer naloxone
Another hope is that the app will also inform younger generations about the dangers of opioid abuse, and about overdose prevention. The hope is the app could reach a younger population and make them aware of how to get access to naloxone and how to administer it. Many young people don’t think of pharmacies as a place to get the drug that could save their lives.
Put to Good Use
The truth is, not all people will be able to have access to a consistent supply of naloxone. The drug also doesn’t last forever. For those who would need to have an overdose antidote resource, the OD Help app could be a safe-guard against being completely unprepared for an overdose.
Some people may be embarrassed or have some reservations about personally obtaining naloxone. With the OD Help app they could reach out to someone if they truly needed the help.
If you or someone you loved were overdosing, would it be useful to be able to look on an app and find someone close by with the tools to help? Some people would say you should just call an ambulance, but what if it could get there sooner? Or what if someone is afraid of reporting it? Too many people die for these very reasons, but they shouldn’t have to. Sure, some people may ask if they would let a random citizen administering the antidote. However, some might say any help is worth having.
Then on the other side, would people be willing to come to the rescue if they had the resources? If your phone rang and the OD Help app said someone needed help around the corner, would you? Would you be happy you could?
Something tells me plenty of people would be willing to put this tool to good use.
This writer has said this before; the preservation of all lives should be a responsibility of all who have the ability to help; not just for public health officials, but everyone. As part of that, Palm Partners is dedicated to contributing to the rehabilitation and revolutionary growth possible with holistic treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. If you or anyone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
Canada has taken a controversial approach to fighting heroin addiction. The Canadian government has just quietly approved a new drug regulation that will permit doctors to prescribe pharmaceutical-grade heroin to severe addicts. Essentially, Canada’s strategy for treating addicts resistant to other forms of treatment is simple: let them have heroin.
While this is a first for Canada, other countries have similar programs. The approved regulation ensures that Canada’s trail-blazing clinic, Crosstown, in Vancouver, will be able to expand their special heroin-maintenance programs. These programs allow addicts to come and go as many as three times a day to receive prescription heroin from a nurse for free.
Back in May 2016, Canada was in the beginning stages of legalizing prescription heroin. Health Canada explained in a news release:
“A significant body of scientific evidence supports the medical use of diacetylmorphine, also known as pharmaceutical-grade heroin, for the treatment of chronic relapsing opioid dependence,”
Health Canada continued stating they were considering the idea of legalizing prescription heroin since several other countries have used it and found it effective.
“Diacetylmorphine is permitted in a number of other jurisdictions, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Switzerland, to support a small percentage of patients who have not responded to other treatment options, such as methadone and buprenorphine.”
Lowering the Cost of Addiction?
Furthermore, Dr. Scott Macdonald, a physician with Crosstown Clinic, explained that heroin maintenance programs are much cheaper for taxpayers than paying for the cost of drug addiction. A person battling drug addiction can cost the tax base $45,000 Canadian Dollars (around $35,000 in U.S. dollars) per year in crime costs, health care costs and more. On the other hand, prescription heroin in a Vancouver clinic costs around $27,000 or $21,000 in American Dollars.
The government ensures that this type of treatment is for a small minority of users “in cases where traditional options have been tried and proven ineffective.” The purpose is to give health-care providers access to a wide variety of life-saving treatments options.
In 2005, Crosstown Clinic conducted their first clinical trial of prescription heroin and has operated ever since. The clinic provided diacetylmorphine to 52 addicts under a special court-ordered exemption. They expect that number to double over the next year if supplies can be obtained.
The Case for Prescription Heroin
A regulation like this will raise controversy. However, studies in the past argue the benefits of using prescription heroin over harm-reduction treatments such as methadone. The studies found that patients stayed in treatment longer and relapsed less in comparison to those who received methadone.
Furthermore, researchers found that those receiving diacetylmorphine had a longer life expectancy compared to those receiving methadone. When it breaks down to costs, prescription heroin costs society less.
Researchers also found that those receiving diacetylmorphine had a longer life expectancy than who received methadone. Crime costs reductions occur with both options. When it breaks down to costs, methadone therapy costs society $1.14 million, compared with $1.09 million for prescription heroin.
“The question I get most about heroin-assisted therapy is whether we can afford the increased direct costs of the treatment,” co-author Dr. Martin Schechter of the University of British Columbia said in a news release. “What this study shows is that the more appropriate question is whether we can afford not to.”
A Two-Sided Argument
Still, many remain solidly against the option. Collin Carrie, a Conservative member of Parliament, stated that his party adamantly opposes the use of prescription heroin.
“Our policy is to take heroin out of the hands of addicts and not put it in their arms,” he stated.
However, Scott Macdonald reiterated that the patients considered for these treatments are long term users. Typically, they have been on heroin for decades and have tried treatments like methadone with repeated failed attempts.
“Our goal is to get people into care,” he said.
When it comes to addiction, the entire world is seeing an outstanding amount of deaths related to drug overdoses. Treatment options like these are controversial, but unfortunately, they need to be a topic of discussion. Still, the best option remains learning to live a clean, sober life in recovery. Do not let your addiction go on for too long. There is time and hope for you. Do not wait. Call today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Back in 1971 the brand name Narcan, generic- Naloxone, was introduced to the world. The opiate overdose antidote has become a popular topic of discussion in our world today. With heroin, fentanyl and other dangerous opioid drugs feeding the opiate epidemic and overdose outbreak, these medications are sought after as the life-line pulling addicts back from deaths door.
With the rise in opiate abuse came the rise in demand, and with the rise in demand we were shown a side of Big Pharma that has many in an uproar. Since 1971 the price for Narcan has grown 4,000 percent! Yes, 4 with 3 zeros after it!
I’ve written before about this trend; something I consider to be a disheartening injustice and abuse of power. Today I want to re-emphasize the point by looking into some specifics about the lengths many have to go to in order to provide this life-saving medicine to their citizens. Let’s talk about America VS Big Pharma and the fight for Naloxone funding.
Baltimore’s Battle for Naloxone
In 2014 Baltimore, Maryland was referred to as “Heroin Capital of America” with an estimated 60,000 heroin addicts out of a population of 645,000. While Baltimore may no longer be one of the top states in overdose deaths, the state’s budget shows:
- $33,540 on Naloxone in 2014
- $118,236 on Naloxone for the fiscal year of 2016
So in two years, Baltimore has more than tripled the amount of money spent on Naloxone. Baltimore’s Health Commissioner Leana Wen continues to work at sounding the alarm across the country for Naloxone price gouging since stepping into the position in 2015. In March she called on Congress to enact price controls on the drug in the interest of public safety. In her plea Wen stated,
“The cost of naloxone skyrocketing means that we can only save a fraction of the lives we were able to before… Manufacturers have claimed that this price increase is related to increased demand. However, it is unclear why the cost of a generic medication that is available for much lower costs in other countries will be suddenly so expensive.”
Pennsylvania in Pain
In Pennsylvania drug overdoses tied to opioids rose nearly a quarter last year, yet these communities are still dependent on the goodwill of charitable organizations and health insurance companies. These resources are meaningful, but don’t go far enough!
- Pittsburgh-based Highmark Foundation donated $50,000 in the first quarter of last year to purchase Naloxone to local law enforcement agencies. But it didn’t renew the grant this year.
- Health insurers contributed a total of $500,000 in Pennsylvania alone to fund naloxone distribution.
- Cigna Foundation donated $50,000 this year to fund Naloxone access
- Independence Blue Cross joined the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association in a providing $50,000 to provide Naloxone to first responders
But most patrol officers still don’t have it! As of 2016 Naloxone kits have only been distributed to about 15% of Philadelphia police officers!
Delaware County has taken extra measures. Officials made it so money seized during drug investigations under asset forfeiture laws could be used to support its Naloxone program.
In case you didn’t know, Pittsburgh doesn’t play either. In July one judge ordered two convicted drug dealers to throw in almost $4,000 for Naloxone funding. Now that is a new brand of justice.
Rhode Island’s Settlement Savings
This was a desperate move indeed, as Rhode Island reached into the $230 million settlement with Google for $40 million to help keep its program alive. This settlement is from when Google facilitated the illegal online exchange of prescription drugs from Canada.
5 Government Interventions
Big Pharma Letters
In June Senate Special Committee on Aging addressed a letter to five leading naloxone manufactures requesting an explanation for increasing drug costs. These companies are:
- Amphaster Pharmaceuticals
Amphaster Pharma’s price went from $12 in 2012 to $41 a dose as of 2015.
- Adapt Pharmaceuticals
Adapt’s Narcan nasal spray costs $63 each dose. Although it does cut price in half for government agencies, community organizations, and patients without insurance
Price went from $375 in November 2015 to $1,875 in February 2016. Now, only 7 months later, it’s up to $2,250 for a single-dose injector!
Most of these companies claimed the price hikes are due to additional burdens they face to meet the exponential demands. Yet, this excuse isn’t flying with many healthcare advocates. The executive director of the Chicago Recovery Alliance, Dan Bigg, has said in response,
“We’re not talking about a limited commodity. Naloxone is a medicine that is almost as cheap as sterile sodium chloride—salt water,”
As far as more help from the powers that be, many state and local governments are reaching into emergency funding to provide Naloxone to first responders. Other government programs have been put in a position to help, but is that help enough?
Rural Opioid Overdose Reversal Grant Program
The Rural Opioid Overdose Reversal Grant Program distributes $1.5 million from government funding, but it had to be split between 15 communities. This has helped some, but left many officials scavenging for financing to be prepared for 2017. Many are calling on the government to assume even more costs.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Block Grants
States do have authorization to draw on these funds to subsidize Naloxone purchases. However, in the words or Peter Luongo, executive director of the Institute for Research, Education & Training in the Addictions, “That’s not new money.”
What this means is that officials must now move the money out of other programs for addiction prevention and treatment. So instead of getting more help, they are having to pick-and-choose which help is more necessary.
Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA)
This summer President Obama signed for this initiative. It means to call for expanding first-responder access to Naloxone. However, the fact remains that CARA funding has not yet been established by Congress.
Department of Health and Human Services
Supposedly starting this month this office will be providing up to $11 million to fund Naloxone distribution. However even this great contribution will only apply to a dozen states.
The Overdose Oligopoly
The reality is this is a fight we need to talk more about. Despite all these government interventions, why is it we still cannot keep up with Big Pharma pricing?
So far nothing seems to justify the monopolizing and exploitation of the opiate epidemic by Big Pharma. These companies are actively increasing the price of a life-saving medication by over 1,000% in many cases during a period in which tens of thousands of people all over the country are dying!
Whether you know all that much about economics, Big Pharma is making millions upon millions of dollars off of these medications. They claim to be trying to keep up with costs, yet continue to show increasing profit. Call it what it is- extortion via oligopoly.
Naloxone and Narcan may not be the miracle cure for opiate addiction, but for many it is the only reason they are alive. So, how many can say the lack of access is the only reason their loved one is not? Surely, Naloxone access expansion is taking off in a new way. CVS stores, schools and all types of venues are providing kits, training and other resources. The only problem is, they are struggling to maintain those resources.
We, as a nation, should expect better than this.
A bigger part of getting better is beyond the medication used to preserve life. Real recovery begins with the process of working to change a life. Holistic addiction treatment allows people who were once hopeless build the foundation of hope again. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call Palm Partners. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
By now, most of us know what heroin is, but are there things we do not know about the drug? A recent article listed several facts about heroin, and some of them were quite shocking. The United States is currently in the midst of a heroin epidemic. Therefore, it is critical that both medical professionals and the public fully understand this drug.
All About Heroin: A Basic Overview
In case you were unaware, heroin derives from morphine, a naturally occurring substance that can be extracted from the seedpods of several types of poppy plants. The chemical name for heroin is diacetylmorphine. Heroin is the fastest acting opiate drug. Whether heroin is injected, smoked or snorted, the drug enters the body rapidly and causes a range of physically and psychological effects.
The U.S. has seen heroin cycle in and out of popularity. In the 70s, heroin was becoming a huge problem in urban communities specifically in areas around New York City. It was estimated that close to 200,000 people in the city were using heroin. A popular park in New York City, known as Hyde Park, earned the infamous name “Needle Park” because the amount of syringes that were found all throughout the park. Fortunately, the heroin epidemic of that era died down around the time Rudolph Giuliani was elected. Many new yorkers credit Giuliani for the measures he took to clean up the city.
The Heroin Epidemic Today
These days, however, heroin is not hitting just urban communities; the epidemic has spread throughout the countries in places people would have never suspected. Areas in the suburbs are seeing a spike in heroin use. The prescription opioid epidemic is the main reason for this resurgence. Many who were prescribed prescription opioids by their doctors became dependent on the drug and soon moved on to heroin as a cheaper, quicker alternative.
Heroin is much cheaper than prescription drugs, and it is easier to acquire. As laws are placed to prevent further prescription drug abuse, heroin use becomes a more popular alternative. Unfortunately, it is a vicious cycle.
With new users come new problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013. Heroin claimed the lives of more than 8,300 Americans in 2013.
Five Compelling Truths About Heroin
Now, that you know some basic information about the current heroin epidemic, here are five interesting facts about this dangerously addictive drug. Perhaps reading them will further solidify the reasons to avoid trying heroin in the first place.
What Being “On The Nod” Really Means.
When most people envision the high of heroin, they picture a person “nodding off” from the drug. Nodding off, or “on the nod” essentially describes a person who is in a state where they alternate between drowsiness and wakefulness for several hours. Imagine a student in a boring lecture trying desperately to stay awake. Their head will drop down as they get sleepier but immediately jerk upward in an attempt to stay awake.
The nodding from heroin use happens because heroin is a sedative. A person will go from feeling awake but sleepy and eventually fall into a deep sleep that he or she cannot be shaken from. While this may be desirable for a heroin user, it is the first step on the road to excess sedation. The nod can be especially dangerous if the user loses consciousness. In some cases, a person can slip into a comatose state and then sink into an overdose. Breathing becomes severely slow and sometimes stops.
Was Heroin Ever Sold Over-The-Counter?
Heroin was created from morphine in 1874. However, Heroin was introduced for medical use in 1890 by The Bayer Company of Germany. Three years before that, a chemist wanted to create a safer alternative to morphine— one that was less addictive and had fewer effects. In his attempt to create the drug, he created heroin, which he believed to be a more dilute form of morphine. The reason the drug was called “heroin” was because he believed the drug had heroic qualities.
Starting in the early 1900s, Heroin was found in products like cough syrups, and remedies for infant colic. Heroin was marketed and sold over the counter in the United States and several other countries. Doctors thought the drug was great for insomnia.
However, a few years later, heroin was discovered to be two to three times more potent than morphine, and more rapidly absorbed by the brain. Doctors also realized that heroin was actually more addictive than morphine! Needless the say, eventually the drug was taken off the shelves.
The “Heroin Chic” 90s Fashion Movement.
In the 90s, being waif thin was all the rage in the high fashion community. Models like Kate Moss, were so emaciated, that they looked like they were strung out on drugs. To add to the look, the models often posed with blank stares, dark eye circles, and pale skin.
During the same period, a new, less expensive version of heroin was entering the United States from Columbia. The new version outcompeted heroin coming from Asia and Southeast Asia. In fact, the Columbian heroin was so cheap and pure that it increased the number of heroin user and the depth of their drug use.
In 1997, not long after a fashion photographer died of a heroin overdose, the then-president Bill Clinton condemned the “heroin chic” images and advertisements. Clinton suggested that the images glamorized addiction to sell clothes.
Soon, the “heroin chic” look fell out of favor, and eventually much healthier looking models replaced the super skinny waif-like look.
The Different Colors of Heroin.
Heroin comes in three different colors. It is either a white powder, a brown powder, or a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. You might have known this already, but do you know what country of origin is associated with the different types of heroin?
–White Powder Heroin: Heroin which is more refined and pure used to arrive from Southeast Asia. White powder heroin is becoming rarer in the United States. Much of the powdered heroin sold in the U.S. has fillers or contaminants added such as sugars, starches, and powdered milk.
— “Black Tar” Heroin: The sticky black heroin or “black tar” heroin comes to the U.S. from Mexico which is the only country that produces it. The drug resembles a black tootsie role. When the drug is cold, it is a hard substance, however, once the user warms up the drug, it appears sticky, resembling roofing tar.
Formed through an industrial process, black-tar heroin is known for being less pure and lower grade. It also is more similar to opium in its chemical makeup compared to other forms of heroin, and it has other opioid drugs, such as morphine and codeine, in it.
–Brown heroin: Lastly, we have heroin from Columbia which tends to be brown and chalky. Heroin from Pakistan and Afghanistan are also brown, but heroin from these countries are more commonly found in Europe.
Famous Phases from Heroin Withdrawals Symptoms.
Although you may associate phrases like “kicking the habit,” or “going cold turkey” with all drug use; the two phases actually originated from heroin withdrawal symptoms.Heroin is one of the most difficult drugs to withdraw from. Heroin withdrawal is a long-term process that involved commitment, professional treatment, and the right support system.
Over the years, our language has been influenced by what happens when people stops using heroin. The expression “kicking the habit,” for example, is thought to have originated from the kicking leg movements seen in people going through heroin withdrawals. When a person withdraws from heroin, their muscles become lethargic and heavy. They start to feel their legs become twitchy and uncontrollable, which leads to the kicking motion, hence the phrase “kicking the habit.”
Another withdrawal symptom of heroin is cold flashes and goosebumps, which some believe originated the phrase “going cold turkey.” When a person withdraws from heroin, their skin becomes more active. This results in goosebumps and the feeling of going “cold turkey.” Phrases like these are old terms and likely originate 50 to 70 years ago.
Was there anything you learned about heroin that surprised you? Now that you understand how addictive heroin can be, you should know that the best way to overcome this addiction is through receiving professional treatment. Do not try to overcome this disease on your own. You need a plan for recovery. Call today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135