Author: Justin Mckibben
These days it is pretty much impossible to In case you missed it, the latest news concerning opioid overdoses in America is not good. Just this week a report was released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that only reminds us of just how horrific the opioid epidemic is. In most of the country, this crisis continues to get worse.
While we still don’t have a complete picture of the death toll in 2017 concerning opioids, the most up-to-date data shows that overdoses have spiked nationwide. Examining reports from hospital emergency rooms, the report compares the overall increase in opioid overdoses from the third quarter of 2016 up until the third quarter of 2017.
According to this data, opioid overdoses to increase by 30% in only a year.
Rising Overdose Rates by Region
In every age group, with both men and women, opioid overdoses are increasing, according to CDC Director Anne Schuchat. The Midwest has been the hardest hit region in that 12 month period. According to the CDC report:
- 7% increase in opioid overdoses in the Midwest
- 3% increase in the West
- 3% increase in the Northeast
- 2% increase in the Southwest
- 14% increase in the Southeast
All this may not come as much of a surprise for many Midwesterners. When you look at the last few years, the opioid crisis has not been kind to these communities. Of the counties with the highest overdose death rates per capita over the last few years, we consistently find some of the top spots going to states like West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky.
Needless to say, these devastating figures aren’t exclusive to the Midwest. A few more examples include:
- 109% increase of opioid overdose in Wisconsin
- 105% increase in Delaware
- 6% increase in Pennsylvania
- 34% increase in Maine
Luckily, not all areas are experiencing record highs. Some states are actually fortunate enough to see a slight decrease in overdoses, including:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
Even in Kentucky, which has been a Midwestern state hit pretty hard over the years, the CDC analysis saw a 15% drop.
The CDC report does not specify as to why certain regions are experiencing overdoses differently, but one factor experts say has most likely played a key role is the availability of more potent opioids. The synthetic opioid fentanyl has been making its way onto the streets more and more over the last couple years, and supply of drugs like fentanyl has increased much faster in certain areas, which probably has a lot to do with the difference in overdose rates per region.
Analyzing Opioid Crisis
The recent report was meant to take a closer look at the opioid crisis by analyzing overdose reports in emergency rooms instead of opioid deaths like the CDC had previously focused on. CDC Director Anne Schuchat said these numbers lag behind the emergency room reports, and that the agency wanted “more timely information” to work with.
The data utilized for this analysis came from:
- Approximately 90 million emergency room visits
- Reports from July 2016 to September 2017
- 52 jurisdictions in 45 states
- 142,577 suspected opioid overdoses
That survey found an increase of 29.7% in opioid overdoses. The research also analyzed:
- 45 million emergency department visits
- Reports from July 2016 to September 2017
- 16 States
- 119,198 suspected opioid overdoses
This analysis shows a 34.5% increase during the same period, but those increases vary drastically from state to state.
At the end of the day, there are a lot of opinions on how to look at this mountain of information and see a way through it. But many experts are convinced that so far we have been failing those who are suffering the most. Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University, states:
“It is concerning that 20 years into this epidemic, it is still getting worse. The number of Americans experiencing opioid overdoses is still increasing.”
Jessica Hulsey Nickel, president and chief executive officer of the Addiction Policy Forum, is one of many voices who are advocating for a more compassionate and supportive system. Those like Nickel believe that the key element to changing the opioid crisis is better integration of addiction treatment into a more comprehensive and effective healthcare system. Some, including Nickel, believe even emergency room staff should be better prepared to help get follow-up addiction treatment for people with substance use disorder.
Addiction isn’t going away anytime soon, and perhaps one of the most tragic parts of the problem is that so many people never get the help they need. Too many are afraid to ask for help, and plenty more still don’t know how to get help. Providing safe and effective substance use disorder treatment isn’t just useful, but vital to our future. So taking advantage of these programs and supporting expanded access to addiction treatment should be at the forefront of the conversation if we hope to break this trend and save lives. If you or someone you love is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
In case you have never read one of my stories on Ohio, I am a born and raised Buckeye. While living away from home for a few years I have taken every opportunity to read about progress in my birth state and spread the word. I have also had to write some disheartening stories that make me afraid for the people I grew up with and the neighborhoods I knew my whole life. However, when a new drug hits Ohio and causes shattering damage I have to step up and say something.
Right now the entire country is fighting a hard fight against opiate and heroin addiction. Overdose deaths tear families and communities apart. Law makers and law enforcement reel trying to keep up. Meanwhile every day a new drug seems to crop up and reap more havoc in cities on all sides of the nation. This time we see a surge of overdoses in the Tri-state area that are truly terrifying, especially considering a new even more powerful substance is suspected.
New Drug Named Carfentanil
This new drug is suggested to be incredibly more potent than any other forms of opiate substances on the street. Carfentanil is said to be:
- 10,000 times stronger than morphine
- 100 times stronger than Fentanyl
- Used as an animal tranquilizer
Officials are saying this is the MOST potent opiate out there. In that case, this is beyond horrifying! Data has already concluded that Fentanyl alone is 40-100 times stronger than heroin. Now they are suggesting that Carfentanil is 100 times stronger than Fentanyl?! It is almost difficult to even comprehend a new drug could possibly be 10,000 times more powerful than pure heroin!
And that last note- this new drug is a sedative used on large animals. Not just any animals, we’re talking bears and elephants!
New Drugs Deadly Dose
Deaths across Hamilton County are rising at an alarming rate and many suspect Carfentanil as the common factor. This drug is actually being used in combination with heroin and amplifying the impact. So far cases have already been reported in:
In just 9 hours in Columbus authorities counted at least 10 overdoses possibly connected to Carfentanil. 2 were fatal.
During just 3 days in Akron authorities suspect Carfentanil could be linked to 25 overdoses. 4 were fatal.
Health officials and county leaders spoke out at the Hamilton County Health Department urgently issuing a public health warning created by this new drug mixture. Officials state that in just a few days there was a massive increase in drug-related emergency room visits.
In case you weren’t already freaked out- it is not just injecting this drug or ingesting it intentionally that puts people are a critical risk. The Hamilton County Heroin Coalition is also urging area police not to conduct field tests on heroin because Carfentanil can be absorbed through the skin or even inhaled.
As if that wasn’t enough, Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, Hamilton County Coroner, warns-
“Narcan may not save you from this one,”
Narcan (or generic Naloxone) is the opiate overdose antidote. To say even this valuable resource may not actually be able to save you from an overdose with Carfentanil is a frightening concept. Tim Ingram, Hamiton County Health Commissioner, said with a troubling hint of realism-
“This is clearly going to… kill a lot of people.”
People often say the truth hurts. This is one truth that is devastating to consider. Knowing that there are so many struggling addicts in these areas is terrifying and tragic, because one can only imagine how many will unknowingly fall victim to this vicious new element in the already treacherous world of drug addiction.
The next question is- where else is this stuff being slipped into street drugs and poisoning people?
This does not have to be the end. Drugs are only getting more dangerous, but effective treatment is also becoming more holistic. For the addict or alcoholic who still suffers there are thousands of people just like you who have recovered and who want to help you. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
On Wednesday night, CNN aired a town hall discussion on the opioid epidemic. The hour-long special was hosted by news anchor Anderson Cooper and CNN chief correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The discussion focused in on the root of the prescription painkiller problem, what’s being done to fight it, and unveiled personal stories from opioid users themselves.
The special is long overdue for an epidemic that is taking lives away each day. In 2014, painkiller abuse accounted for more than 28,000 deaths. That is more deaths per year than in automobile accidents. Even worse, those rates have tripled since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Close to two million Americans in 2014 have abused or become addicted to these drugs.
In attendance was former NFL quarterback Ray Lewis, who shared his personal story of becoming addicted to opioid painkillers after a football injury. Unfortunately, stories like Lewis are all too common in sports. Lewis’s addiction worsened to the point that he was eventually taking 1,400 painkillers a month.
“I was a functioning addict,” he said. He described how he would make regular TV appearances for the New York Jets and then rush off to take 15 pills and then another 15 on the way home.
“I tell my story, and I’m not ashamed because I think opiates have changed the face of what people think are addicts,” he said during the town hall. “I’m an eight-year NFL veteran, graduated from Rutgers University, but I’m an addict. And I will always be that way.”
Also contributing to the cause this week is Seattle rapper and songwriter Macklemore. Although he was not at the town hall meeting, Macklemore will have a documentary air on MTV about opioid abuse. Macklemore has been very open in the media about his personal struggle with addiction. President Obama and Macklemore appeared in a Your Weekly Address video to talk about the problem.
“This week, the House passed several bills about opioids, but unless they also make actual investments in more treatment, it won’t get Americans the help they need,” Obama said. “Deaths from opioid overdoses have tripled since 2000. A lot of the time, they’re from legal drugs prescribed by a doctor.”
Macklemore supported Obama’s pitch with a personal request.
“I know recovery isn’t easy or quick, but along with the 12-step program, treatment has saved my life,” Macklemore said. “Recovery works — and we need our leaders in Washington to fund it and people to know how to find it.”
Macklemore first opened up about his struggles with addiction two years ago. He says he almost ruined his music career because of his addiction. Macklemore found that using drugs hindered him as an artist because when he would use, his mind would go blank.
How Do We Prevent This?
Macklemore has since recovered and hopes to spread the message of hope to others. But for many addicts, the future is uncertain. One of the questions asked by an audience member was how to stop doctors from prescribing these addictive drugs.
Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner, responded by explaining that doctors need to “own the problem.” She said they need to be aware of what is going on. On the same note, we as the consumers need to be aware of the potential for abuse these medications have in order to make a more informed decision.
Dr. Drew explained how he believes doctors are also prescribing opioids for too long.
“These things are prescribed for acute intervention, not long-term use,” he said. “And if it is going for more than two weeks, both doctor and patient better really think about it.”
Dr. Sanjay Gupta highlighted in the discussion that 91% of people who overdose go back to their doctor and are given those same prescriptions for opioids. This is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Another topic raised was the concept of America being a “culture of consumption.” Are we simply too reliant on seeking a pill to solve all of our problems? Dr. Wen elaborated stating:
“We have this culture of giving a pill for every problem, this culture of a quick fix, and that is something we have to change.”
Whether you believe in that opinion or not, this discussion is critical in the fight against opioid abuse. Each and every day, someone is afraid to open up about their addiction because of the stigma surrounding it. Because of the stigma, their addiction is kept a secret, and some never seek help.
Do not be afraid to come forward with you addiction. You are not alone. Many people are facing the same challenges with addiction as you are. We can help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Shernide Delva
It is hard for most to imagine walking 32 miles, better yet 3200. However, that is exactly what Brett Bramble is doing in memory of his sister who died from an opioid overdose. Brett Bramble, a 31-year-old Atlanta native, is on a mission to trek 3200 miles to bring attention to the opiate epidemic and naloxone. He hopes his message will inspire more people to understand how severe and tragic the drug epidemic is.
In 2014. 47,000 people lost their lives to a fatal drug overdose. His sister, Brittany Bramble, was one of them. Brittany was a mother of three who was addicted to a variety of drugs. One of those drugs was heroin. On March 15, a heroin overdose tragically took her life.
Two years later, and Brett plans not to let his sister’s memory go in vain. Brett Bramble launched a walk across the United States to commemorate her passing. On March 13, with his dog, a backpack, and a stroller, Bramble took his first steps cross-country starting from Delaware and projected to end at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Bramble is chronicling his eight-month journey on his website. After personally spending a good thirty minutes reading his blogs, it is clear that Brett is determined to finish what he started. On the about section, he dedicates a page to his sister stating:
“Brittany was one of those people that lit up a room when she walked in. She had a great life and did amazing things for so many people.”
In the bio, Bramble described how Brittany was married nine years and had three children that she adored. Unfortunately, her marriage ended, and she dealt with “the dangerous area between liberation and stress.” Adjusting to the single life proved to be very hard on Brittany. She found herself missing her children when they were away, and turned to drugs to cope. A month before Brittany’s death, she had a heroin scare. Fortunately, she was able to be revived. Her family gave an intervention, and she finally sought treatment. Brittany seemed to be getting on the right path. Unfortunately, Brittany gave into heroin one last time and died from an overdose moments later.
“I strongly believe that she would have been able to beat addiction with everything that she had going for her. Unfortunately, the overdose cut her chances short. […] I know that she will be absolutely loving what I am doing for her by spreading the word, giving support, and hopefully saving lives,” He states.
Brett Bramble struggled with his issues too. In his teens and early twenties, he struggled with a drug addiction. He was extremely close to his younger sister. Devastated by her death, he began exploring ways to share her story as a way of raising awareness about opioid addiction and overdose prevention. After a year of fundraising and speeches, Bramble felt that he had not done enough. That is when he came up with the idea of walking across the country on the first year anniversary of Brittany’s death.
Bramble spent the next year researching and prepared for the journey cross-country. He even raised funds through his GoFundMe page. As of today, the page has raised over 7,000 dollars.
Visitors to the BrettBrambleWalks website can follow the progress of his trip through daily posts. It is interesting to see who he has encountered along the way. Just a few days ago, on May 5, 2016, Bramble wrote about how he realized it would take more than a walk to grieve the death of his sister fully.
“As I walked on, I started to think about Brittany and the grief was strong. I think I’ve learned that you can’t walk the pain away. I knew that before, but I guess I kind of hoped that it would work,” Bramble wrote.
Whether or not the walk will be what Bramble imagined it would be is yet to be discovered. Still, it is undeniable the impact he is having on the addiction community by doing something so poignant in the fight for drug addiction awareness.
“I’ve had people that are struggling with addiction contact me and tell me that I am motivating them to stay clean and sober,” he said in an article. “I had no idea that would happen. I had no idea I would be that impactful on somebody.”
Bramble said he thinks about his sister every minute of every day. He hopes the walk will encourage others and provide a platform for communication. The opioid epidemic continues to get worse each and every year. Any effort to reduce the stigma around this disease is a step in the right direction.
Losing a loved one to a drug addiction can be one of the hardest things a family member can go through. Recovery is so important, not just for your life, but for those who care about you most. Get help today. Do not give up. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 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
With the prescription pain killer epidemic spreading all over the country, high schools are faced with having to deal with the potential of an overdose happening on school grounds. Now, in an effort to combat the opioid overdose problem in schools, the company Adapt Pharma will offer all high schools in the United States a free carton of Narcan nasal spray.
The announcement was made during the Clinton health Matters Initiation Activation Summit on Monday, January 25. The overall goal of the program is to assist in efforts to address the growing risk of opioid overdoses among American high-school students. In the past few months, we have posted about pharmacies now offering Narcan and the concept of school nurses having Narcan on hand. However, this is a very hand-on approach to placing Narcan in schools for free.
The Clinton Health Matters Initiative presently is focusing its work to back national efforts to provide universal naloxone access. Seamus Mulligan, the chairman and CEO of Adapt Pharma, Ltd, a pharmaceutical company based in Ireland, explained the importance of the program:
“We understand the crucial role schools can play to change the course of the opioid overdose epidemic by working with students and families. We also want every high school in the country to be prepared for an opioid emergency by having access to a carton of NARCAN Nasal Spray at no cost.”
As a result, Adapt Pharma will offer a free carton of Nurcan (naloxone hydrochloride) nasal spray to all high schools in the United States. With this initiative, the next problem that comes to mind is education on the use of Nurcan to stop an overdose. That is where the second program coming in. The second initiative by Adapt Pharma is to offer a grant to the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) to support their educational efforts concerning opioid overdose education materials. NASN has been in full support of the use or Narcan nasal spray and plans to further educational efforts on treating overdoses.
NASN President Beth Mattey elaborates on the necessity of school nurses having access to Nurcan since often school nurses act as first responders in the school setting,
“We educate our students, families, and school staff about prescription drug and substance abuse, and help families seek appropriate treatment and recovery options. Having access to naloxone can save lives and is often the first step toward recovery. We are taking a proactive approach to address the possibility of a drug overdose in school.”
Nurcan nasal spray is the latest cutting edge emergency treatment for opioid overdoses. Nurcan is not a substitute for medical emergency care however if used immediately, Nurcan can help save the life of many. When it comes to overdoses, time is of the essence. Previously, naloxone was only available injectable forms, most commonly delivered by syringe or auto-injected. With nasal sprays, it is easier for more people to use.
The need for action is more than necessary. According to recent reports, over 44,000 people die from accidental overdoses each year in the United States. Most of these deaths are from opioids such as pain medications and heroin. There has been a five-fold increase in the total number of heroin-related deaths from 2001 to 2013 and the numbers have continued to climb. The death toll can be reduced if we can get naloxone in the hands of more people.
As the number of people affected by drug addiction continues to soar, the nation needs to look at every option out there. Implementing training to administer Nurcan in high schools can save lives in the most critical moments. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.