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
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.
Author: Justin Mckibben
For a while now there have been officials waging war on Big Pharma’s pricing policies. Now we see the fight taking on different meaning as congressional leaders shift their focus to a powerful and life-saving drug that police departments and other emergency services use to treat heroin overdoses. So why is Big Pharma holding it for ransom?
Recently we have seen a change in the way law enforcement agencies have chosen to combat drug abuse, and the heroin overdose antidote is part of that growing support for harm reduction strategies. But now the big concern is that the recent price inflation could put the future of city and state distribution programs in jeopardy.
The Money in the Medicine
Naloxone, a generic drug that’s also known as Narcan, is used to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses by relieving the depression of the nervous and respiratory systems. It also helps someone who may be suffering from an overdose by suppressing symptoms of hypertension.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that naloxone access could prevent more than 20,000 deaths in the United States annually. A 2013 study found that distributing the drug could save one life for every 227 kits that are distributed. Empirical evidence has also played a part in authorities’ change of heart. For example, more than 100,000 overdose reversals were reported from 188 naloxone distribution programs in the United States. In these programs, more than 53,000 people had been trained to administer the drug.
Amphaster Pharmaceuticals is the maker of the drug naloxone, and reports state that earlier this week Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic representative Elijah Cummings made a direct attack on Amphaster in a letter questioning the justification of increasing the price of naloxone during a time when heroin overdose deaths have more than tripled within a three-year period! Sanders and Cummings wrote in their letter,
“Over the past several months, police departments, law enforcement agencies, and public health officials across the country have warned about the increasing price of naloxone, which they use to combat the scourge of heroin abuse,”
Back in April 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Evzio, a user-friendly naloxone injector. But a sticker price of more than $400 a pop keeps people who most need access to the medication from affording it.
And of course in order for Big Pharma to corner the market, the price of the formula that can be injected nasally also doubled, with Amphaster Pharmaceuticals as the sole producer of the drug.
The sad part is that price manipulation is nothing new when looking at the history of naloxone. Ever since the 1970’s when the drug first came out pharmaceutical companies have frequently manipulated prices according to the demand.
Times of crisis are looked at as business opportunities it seems. In 2008 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared an opioid epidemic, and the drug had cost less than $3 per dose, and the price has increased by more than $1,100 since then.
This seems to be a well thought out plan for the Pharmaceutical companies wallets, seeing as how nearly half of United States has recently passed laws granting wider access to naloxone. Now in those states doctors can prescribe naloxone to friends and family members of opioid abusers, and it’s becoming available in local pharmacies. Recent legislation even removes liability from people who dole out the drug, including police officers.
How bad could it be? Well now law enforcement is struggling with naloxone price spikes of up toward 50% that threaten the potential to curb heroin addiction outbreak. Long before Sanders and Cummings wrote Amphaster Pharmaceuticals, others made efforts to change the price including:
- Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey had inquired about the increased price during a public health emergency in the state, which seemed to be distastefully opportunistic of the company.
- New York’s attorney general Ed Schneiderman had taken a similar approach and secured an agreement for $6 rebate per dose to agencies in the state for a year.
But lawmakers are not satisfied with these efforts. Sanders and Cummings called on Amphaster in their letter to make across-the-board price changes and subsidies similar to what was done for New York consumers, citing its potential to save lives and noting the rapid price increase as contributing to a serious public health crisis.
The criticism the pharmaceutical companies are experiencing for this monopoly isn’t brand new either. Once before advocates suggested taking the new approach a step further by distributing naloxone over the counter, even before the naloxone price had skyrocketed, foreseeing that failing to do so would further marginalize heroin addicts.
State officials and citizens want to see community groups get the access they need to a drug that during a critical stage of the fight against heroin abuse could mean the changing of the tides, and could mean the difference between life and death for countless addicts. So how far will Big Pharma go to keep the supply limited when death by drugs is what creates the demand?
Now the question is what more can be done to free the nation from the choke-hold that Big Pharma currently has on the overdose antidote the nation most desperately needs. Not everyone gets the treatment they need, but you can. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Recent data shows a drastic decrease in overdose in 2013, though it still remains remarkably high over-all as an issue in America. Staten Island is the so-called overlooked borough of New York City that has been despairingly dubbed ‘Heroin’s New Hometown’ by The New York Times publication. Back in 2006 New York State (NYS) introduced the ‘Opioid Prevention Act’ allowing the NYCDOH to distribute 50,000 Naloxone OD kits, and the decision to arm the general public with a first defense against overdose has apparently been well needed on the front lines on the war against the ‘heroin epidemic’.
Dr. Hillary Kunins is an Assistant Commissioner at the NYCDOH, stated that Staten Island has been the focus of an aggressive campaign to fight an overdose rate 4 times higher than any NYC borough! Dr Kunins is also the Director of Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention Care at the NYDOH. Her and other expert physicians in the area believe in the impact that this resource can have on the community, and think it is appropriate to take the fight against heroin to the streets.
The Opiate and the Overdose
Dr. Harshai Kirane, the director of addiction at Staten Island Hospital, recently gave a presentation in a new teaching auditorium at Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) on Staten Island. During this public presentation Dr.Kirane showed a video of how to spot the symptoms of overdose, and the proper and safe method to distribute Narcan, the brand name for Naloxone. During the lecture Dr Kirane made a statement that reflected the severity of the overdose epidemic in Staten Island, saying everyone should carry an OD kit!
Opiates are prescription pain relievers based on morphine, which have become more and more popular and more awareness has been brought to the dangerous effects these drug have on people who get them prescribed. Opiates are products, like heroin, derived from the morphine poppy plant, so most people use the term ‘opiate’ to refer to both types of narcotic, and those people who use prescription painkillers quite typically move on to using heroin. An overdose caused by an opiate is described using some physical symptoms such as:
- Shallow breathing
- Lips and fingers appearing gray
- Loss of consciousness
The Overdose Disruptor
Naloxone is the famous ‘miracle anti-OD drug’ that is currently being freely distributed to anyone that wants it by New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOH). If applied to a victim during overdose, the antidote will get rid of the effects of opiates temporarily, but with the possibility of returning the victim returning to an overdosed state once again. However that small period of time is enough opportunity to contact emergency services. It’s being called a time-out from death, the second chance or pause button is not a cure, but it’s definitely helping save lives.
How do you use Naloxone? Well the first thing you do is call 911, and then if the individual isn’t breathing attempt to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and apply the Narcan. The drug is only useful in an opiate overdose, and also it is a safe substance that would not harm someone who is not overdosing.
Getting the Kit Out
Dr. Kunins stated these kits include two doses of the intra-nasal form of Narcan. They were passed out to several community groups, as well as handed out to targeted individuals at risk of overdose, and even their families. The wonderful part was that the efforts included active drug users in a position to observe overdoses themselves.
With the kit the DOH gives away the two doses of Narcan come in a small blue bag with a nasal spray or a syringe shot. The kit also includes surgical gloves and rescue breathing mask. A single puncture in the shoulder with the syringe can be used to administer the drug into the bloodstream immediately and reverse the effects of the opioids, so the shot does not need to be taken intravenously. Spraying the medication up each nostril from the atomizer will have the same effect. Luckily, the process has been simplified and can be done by anyone.
Dr. Kunins believes that the Narcan program being used in collaboration with sensible prescription practices and raising awareness of the potential risk of overdose has all the potential to help reverse a disturbing nationwide trend. The climbing deaths due to both heroin and prescription opiate abuse and ultimately overdose has been devastating and disturbing for too long, and now has great potential to put power back in the hands of the people struggling most.
Thankfully, Staten Island is one of many areas that has started to take action in trying to overcome the overdose statistics across the country. With these kits being put in the possession of the public, more people are going to have a chance at surviving the disease of addiction. However real recovery comes with consistent growth, and it all starts with a willingness to change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135