Author: Justin Mckibben
It is not secret that America is struggling with a drug problem. Overdose rates are ever increasing, the death toll reaches new heights and the world is watching to see how politicians and communities plan to address these mounting issues. The opiate epidemic far too obvious for too many people, and there is a great need for new policies and new ideas for innovating treatment. Now, a small crew has created a mobile drug treatment van to take recovery on the road and provide resources to those suffering.
Maine’s New Mobile Drug Treatment Van
Two Mainers, who are themselves recovering heroin addicts, are setting out on a mission to try and heal communities will education and treatment options. The mobile drug treatment van will travel throughout the city of Sanford, Maine to bring harm reduction services and offer recovery options to the areas most impacted by opioid abuse. The mobile drug treatment vehicle is equipped to offer:
- Clean syringes
- Clean needles
- Testing for HIV and other diseases
- Connecting addicts to treatment options
The new mobile drug treatment is a prevention-based project from the non-profit Choopers Foundation. The Choopers Foundation is a local effort that serves to educate the public on addiction and the need for drug policy reform. According to its website, the foundation’s projects also include:
The two men taking this road trip for recovery are the Choopers Foundation co-founders, Tim Cheney and Adrian Hooper. Given the fact they are both in long-term recovery, they work from an experience many may not understand. Adrian Hooper recently told the Associated Press,
“We reach out to people, treat them with dignity and say we’re here for you to create treatment plans if you ever want to,”
The effort to make a difference in Maine makes plenty of sense.
Other Mobile Drug Treatment Efforts
This isn’t the only case of a mobile drug treatment idea hitting the streets to try and save lives. A similar initiative in rural areas of western Pennsylvania has been delivering monthly injections of Vivitrol. Vivitrol is a medication that blocks the effects of opioid drugs.
This program, the PRS mobile drug treatment clinic, is operated by a private clinic in Washington County. It was put in place to ensure that people living in remote areas are following up on the treatment options provided through this private clinic. The PRS mobile drug treatment is operated from a trailer hitched to a Ford pickup truck.
The mobile drug treatment resource set out to expand its access to people across several counties, giving services to unfunded patients.
Could Mobile Drug Treatment Work?
Having a resource like this is pretty unique. Providing intervention and harm reduction on-the-go could bring much needed opportunities to people who otherwise might not know they exist. Some people are even afraid to ask for help, so maybe making help come to them could work.
Daniel Raymond of the Harm Reduction Coalition says this type of mobile drug treatment program is able to intervene early, before the individual ends up in the hospital or even dead. Creating a traveling resource that can go into different communities may bring more people into the fold who have barely survived on the fringes. Instead of requiring people to find and seek out clean needles, HIV testing or addiction rehabilitation, the mobile drug treatment option can drive a second chance to your neighborhood and park it right outside your door.
Mobile drug treatment might actually carry the message of recovery to new places. Let us hope that it can pick up some hitchhikers and save some lives along the way.
Getting help to those who need it isn’t always easy, but there is real help available. Real recovery begins with effective and innovative treatment. Palm Partners offers holistic treatment program where you create comprehensive and personalized recovery plan. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Whether it is antibiotics or narcotics, many people do not throw away their leftover pills when they are finished using them. However, when those leftovers are addictive painkiller prescription, that simple act of carelessness contributes to the opioid epidemic. Leftover pain medication increases the potential for abuse.
When it comes to prescription painkillers, a few leftover pills can cause a host of problems. Since 1999, more than 165,000 people have died due to opioid-related overdoses according to the CDC. The problem was a result of doctors over prescribing drugs like methadone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. These patients not only are prescribed these drugs too liberally, but they are also getting way more medication than they actually need. Those leftovers increase the potential for abuse, according to a recent study.
The study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. The study revealed that six out of 10 patients admitted to receiving way more medication than they actually needed. The research surveyed 1,032 American adults who had used prescription painkillers in the past year. Half the participants were no longer taking the meds, but 60% still had the pills leftovers! When asked why they did not dispose of the pills, 61.3% admitted they were holding on to them for the future. These responses suggest a possibility of later misuse and/or abuse.
“These painkillers are much riskier than has been understood and the volume of prescribing and use has contributed to an opioid epidemic in this country,” said study lead Alene Kennedy-Hendricks, an assistant scientist in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It’s not clear why so many of our survey respondents reported having leftover medication, but it could be that they were prescribed more medication than they needed.”
The study also found that half of those surveyed did not know how to store away safely their medications at home, out of reach to children, family members, and visitors. Most did not know how to dispose safely of the medications either. Less than 7% knew about “take back” programs across the country, that allow patients to return leftover pills to pharmacies and law enforcement.
The biggest danger is when patients pass their leftovers to friends and family, which increases the risk for abuse. One in five participants surveyed said they had let someone else use their medication. Researchers say their needs to be a new approach to how doctors prescribe prescription painkillers to help curb abuse and addiction. Some solutions are to cut back on over prescribing as well as educate patients on how to properly dispose of their leftovers.
“We’re at a watershed moment,” said senior author Colleen Barry, co-director of the Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research at the Bloomberg School. “Until recently, we have treated these medications like they’re not dangerous. But the public, the medical community, and policymakers are now beginning to understand that these are dangerous medications and need to be treated as such. If we don’t change our approach, we are going to continue to see the epidemic grow.”
One of the changes that has been proposed is lower-dose prescribing. Lower-dose prescribing is a way of minimizing the potential for abuse. In Maine, governor Paul R. Lepage signed a new bill titled “An Act To Prevent Opiate Abuse by Strengthening the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program.” The bill would mandate all prescribers participate in the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) and would set limits on the strength and duration of opioid prescriptions. The bill would require that opioid prescribers undergo addiction training every two years. Short-term opioid use has been considered to have a lower risk of abuse when compared to longer term use.
Many other states in the country are considering bills to limit the amount of prescriptions available. But, will these bills be effective now that the damage has been done? Over all, these laws work as a way of preventing more people from becoming addicted to these drugs. If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, understand that you need to seek treatment immediately. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
By Cheryl Steinberg
In Bangor, Maine and its surrounding areas, a team has come together with a three-pronged strategy for attacking opiate addiction and one aspect is to get rid of methadone as a maintenance treatment.
The approach, which came together after 6 months of several community members and agencies meeting on the subject of the opioid problem in their state, doesn’t wish to rid addiction treatment of supportive medication, though; they’re looking to shift from the use of methadone to that of Suboxone.
In recent months, there has been much debate about the use of methadone and, specifically, the replacing of methadone with alternatives, such as Suboxone, for opioid dependence and addiction.
Gov. Paul LePage proposed in his two-year budget plan that he would end methadone treatment for recipients of MaineCare, the state- and federally-funded health coverage system for qualifying individuals, and switch their treatment over to Suboxone. There is pushback from many treatment and health care providers in the area, who warn that addiction treatment isn’t as simple as switching one drug for another.
Three-pronged Approach in Maine Rids Methadone from Addiction Treatment
Bangor Sen. Geoff Gratwick has offered a work-around concerning this debate. His proposal is for a pilot program that would test the efficacy of using drug treatments other than methadone to address opioid addiction. In this pilot project, test sites would involve primary care providers outside of Bangor and would also offer peer support. The senator was inspired by the work of a Bangor group that studied, discussed, and scrutinized drug abuse and addiction in the city.
This ‘group’ is a committee made up of residents, medical providers, treatment specialists, and law enforcement officials put in the hard work for a six month period in order to come up with a strategy to address drug abuse and addiction in Bangor.
Theirs is a three-pronged approach, meaning that the plan emphasizes three key focus areas. The first aspect would be to encourage better prescribing practices when it comes to pain medications in order to reduce the supply of opiates. The second aspect is to evaluate how cases of addiction are treated in emergency rooms, specifically in cases of overdose, in which the patient the practice is to merely send them home after being stabilized; the group suggests transitional steps for such cases. And the third aspect – and incentive for the bill – is to look at alternatives to methadone.
Gratwick’s bill is getting some support because it “looks at the whole person,” allows for treatment closer to home, offers a support system to those receiving treatment, as well as holds participants accountable – an important life skill to learn for those who deal with addiction.
The pilot project aims to set up one or two test sites that are at least 30 miles from already-existing methadone clinics. This way, clients can remain close to their families and jobs so that they can reintegrate or continue to be a part of their communities, which is one of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) main goals when it comes to substituting in the Suboxone plan. Furthermore, it will save the state monies on transportation for methadone patients, which can instead go toward paying for the pilot project.
This comprehensive approach is certainly worthy of a look and, moreover, of support. It’s a smart way to plow right on through the competing arguments about what’s the best approach to treatment. Instead of being polarized – and therefore getting nothing done – the plan would be a proactive approach to addressing the opioid epidemic in and around Bangor. Who knows? It may spread to the rest of the state and even to other states.
The project is able to identify what system and supports need to be in place for the best chance of success, which makes it a step in the right direction.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction or have become dependent on maintenance drugs, such as methadone or Suboxone, treatment is available for these exact situations. Healing and successful recovery are possible with the right treatment and education. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Much like the argument against teaching and promoting safe sex in schools – “if you hand out free condoms, you’re encouraging kids to go have sex” – there’s an argument against making naloxone (the generic name for Narcan) more widely available. Naloxone is also known as the ‘overdose antidote’ as it is a quick response treatment given to someone who is in overdose from opiates such as heroin or prescription painkillers.
Already across the country, in places such as New Jersey and Ohio, first responders (police officers, EMTs) are now carrying the antidote with them because of the current heroin scourge that’s taking lives at an astonishing rate.
Maine is poised to vote on whether to make Narcan more readily available but, it’s not so cut-and-dry for “The Pine Tree State.”
According to its governor, Paul LePage, who vetoed a naloxone bill that passed in 2013, says that he plans to veto it again in early March, calling naloxone an “escape.”
And, although it passed in 2013, the naloxone bill widened the gap along party lines, with the Democrats voting for it and the Republicans, of course, voted against it. Democrats proposed a new bill this past January.
Le Page went on to say that passing such a bill and making the opiate overdose reversal drug more accessible was like giving addicts “an excuse to stay addicted,” and instead proposes a crack-down that’s more heavily dependent on increased law enforcement. This ‘solution’ is clearly oriented from the draconian ‘war on drugs’ approach, which has failed miserably as an answer to the so-called drug problem in this country.
Maine Gov. LePage might be part of a dying breed of politician, however. According to the Network of Public Health, as early as 2001, the state of New Mexico became the first state to amend its laws to make it easier for naloxone to be prescribed, dispensed, and administered without fear of legal repercussion. And, as of May 15, 2014 NY, IL, WA, CA, RI, CT, MA, NC, OR, CO, VA, KY, MD, VT, NJ, OK, UT, TN, ME, GA, WI, and OH and the District of Columbia have all made similar changes to their laws, for a total of 24 states in the ranks.
LePage needs to look at his state’s numbers when deciding something that could determine the fate of Maine’s public health and safety. Currently, Maine’s overdose rate hangs around the middle of national numbers. As of the most recent data, which was back in 2012, 140 of the 163 overdose deaths were related to prescription drugs, with oxycodone being the leading factor in fatal overdose cases, according to the Department of Health. Heroin deaths are on the rise in Maine.
Naloxone has been standard in emergency rooms since the 1970s. Distribution of the opiate antidote among drug users, that is, underground then burgeoned with the first official take-home program starting in Chicago in 1996. In 2012, the American Medical Association endorsed widespread access of naloxone, in response to the number of overdoses surpassing car accidents as the number one cause of accidental death in America.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.