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America Still Fighting Prescription Drug Addiction

America Still Fighting Prescription Drug Addiction

Author: Justin Mckibben

Prescription drug addiction is still a very real threat to the lives of Americans today, with mass amounts of individuals being held hostage by the disease of addiction and the opiate epidemic raging on in our homes and communities, but politicians have no intentions of staying silent about this issue, and many initiatives are going into action to fight prescription drug addiction.

These days some might say America could be seen as the land of the over-medicated and the home of the addict, but the American government seems aware of the need for action and is taking every chance it can in the month of September to talk about it.

September 26 was National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, and on that day President Barack Obama took the opportunity in delivering another one of his weekly addresses to the nation to talk about prescription drug abuse and the plans put forth to fight drug addiction. In fact the first thing he noted was National Drug Take-Back day, explaining the meaning behind it and emphasizing the impact these kinds of collective efforts could have on the overall drug epidemic.

President Obama told viewers in the course of his address,

“More Americans now die every year of overdoses than they do in car crashes.”

This is a fact we have seen mentioned time and time again as overdose has become the leading cause of injury-related death in America. More disturbing is to point out that most of those fatalities aren’t from illegal drugs either. Currently prescription drugs are the big offender in this case, and in 2013 alone more than 16,000 American overdosed on prescription painkillers. Obama made another important point when talking about the importance of National Prescription Take-Back Day by saying that most young people who end up abuse these medications “don’t buy them in some dark alley, they get them from the medicine cabinet.”

The president went on to make the connection between abuse of prescription pain medication and heroin addiction, also stressing that between 2013 and 2014 there was a 33% increase in the number of heroin users in the country, which had a lot to do with the mounting issue of prescription drug abuse.

Obama also made a point to note that these drugs were not just being abused in urban areas, but in every community including rural and suburban areas.

Fighting Prescription Drugs

Four years ago the Obama administration announced its Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan, at which point the government officials were actively partnering with communities to confront the overdose issue. According to president Obama the administration has been seeing some promising results, and the hope is to build on those results.

This year’s budget includes more money for various programs to contribute to these efforts, including:

Obama was very conscious of the expenses that stood to be spent in this respect, but added:

“Getting smarter about how we address substance abuse disorders is a vital part of reforming our criminal justice system,”

The president again voiced his belief that the fight against drug abuse and addiction would be more effective if instead of spending an extortionate amounts of government finances on incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders, the country could save money and get better outcomes by getting treatment to those who need it. One powerful statement Obama made during this address was:

“With no other disease do we expect people to wait until they’re a danger to themselves or others to self-diagnose and seek treatment. So we should approach abuse as an opportunity to intervene, not incarcerate.”

While this was going on that same day, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade of Michigan called on federal prosecutors from six neighboring states to convene during a one-day summit to address issues fueling the heroin and prescription opiate epidemic in the area.

Among these authorities were officials from:

  • Ohio
  • Kentucky
  • Pennsylvania

All these people got together as part of an initiative by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force to halt heroin and prescription pill trafficking, with McQuade noting that organized groups in Michigan and Ohio have expanded their drug enterprises to many of the above-mentioned states, plus:

  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

They have set their sights on going after and arresting high-level drug traffickers, as well as an increasing education about the addictive nature of painkillers and more expansive treatment for addicts.

Prescription drug addiction is a massive concern when it comes to the opiate epidemic and the overdose outbreak all across America, and while a lot of efforts are going into fighting prescription drug abuse some officials still feel it’s important to plan for the worst and talk about the basics.

Still many states are fighting their own battles and designing and implementing their own protections, regulations and resources to try and revive their communities that have been devastated by overdose, death, heroin and prescription opiate addiction. America has nowhere near given up on this effort, so what more can we as citizens do?

This is the conversation we need to be having, and one that won’t have an easy and obvious answer because there is so much to be done, but we have to try. For some of us that fight begins at home and making the change in our own lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Suing Big Pharma for Campaign of Deception

Suing Big Pharma for Campaign of Deception

Author: Justin Mckibben

Big Pharma is getting a progressively sketchier and more unsavory reputation as the world opens its eyes to the desperation and deterioration created by the abuse of several powerful medications marketed to the masses in exponential amounts. The heaving heroin epidemic and its relationship with the over prescription of opiate painkillers and anti-depressants has caused a great deal of enormity and outrage, and more and more people are looking to politicians and lawmakers to hold the flame to the feet of Big Pharma for any and all misconduct.

Now according to a recent report, 2 California counties have filed suit against 5 of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the business of pushing pills, and officials are referring to the misconduct as a “campaign of deception,” alleging the makers of various opiate based painkillers purposely lied about the effects and risks related to their drugs in order to increase profits, at great expense to human life and quality of their communities.

Orange County Attacks Opiate Makers

Tony Rackauckus is the Orange County District Attorney (DA), and he recently described his intention in pursuing legal action against this handful of pharmaceutical pushers as “a matter of public protection” and explained his efforts in following through with the suit is to act as an attempt “to stop the lies about what these drugs do.” In a recent story Rackauckus did not hold back his opinions of how these giants of the medication industry has been manipulating the population for profit, and told the Times,

“In order to put money in their pockets, they’ve done serious harm to many thousands of people,”

Orange County, along with Santa Clara County in California, has been battered and bewildered by sincreased overdose death and drastically increased medical costs credited to the escalation of abuse of prescription narcotics in the past few years, and Rackauckus is not the first to think the big names in Big Pharma should start being held accountable. Rackauckus stated:

“California is suffering disproportionately from this problem, so it is appropriate for this state to take up this hammer,”

That hammer is being swiftly taken up and swung at a number of drug companies, including those behind the production and marketing of OxyContin, which was recently approved by the FDA for children as young as 11 years old.

So while Big Pharma adjusts its strategies, states are gearing up to take the fight to their front door.

Landmark Marketing Suit

This entire mission to stand up for these counties and sue these companies could be a landmark marketing case, perhaps one only paralleled by the tobacco industry settlement back in the 1990’s. The lawsuit contends that five well-known drug companies knowingly violated California laws in numerous ways, including:

  • Falsely advertising their products
  • Engaging in unfair business practices
  • Creating a public nuisance

In labors to make a sweeping statement and target the big name offenders, which are:

  1. Actavis
  2. Endo Health Solutions
  3. Janssen Pharmaceuticals
  4. Purdue Pharma
  5. Cephalon Inc

The case being put together by the DA also claims these drug companies manipulated doctors into thinking that the benefits of an assortment of prescription drugs outweighed the risks, such as abuse leading to physical addiction. Those fighting for the county suggest these tactics lead many physicians across Southern California to prescribe drugs that led to fatal overdoses, which goes without even mentioning the contribution these drugs made to more serious illicit drug habits, as statistics have shown most heroin users today started with opiate painkillers at one point.

The case presented by Rackauckus stated:

“marketing – and not any medical breakthrough – that rationalized prescribing opioids for chronic pain and opened the floodgates of opioid use and abuse,” the suit said, they “deprived California patients and their doctors of the ability to make informed medical decisions and, instead, caused important, sometimes life-or-death decisions to be made based not on science, but on hype.”

Purdue Pharma has already been held up to scrutiny in the past few years by other states including Kentucky and Chicago in civil lawsuits aimed at the drug maker for the devastation caused by OxyContin and their questionable marketing strategies, and with cases like this coming up, one has to wonder if these pharmaceutical companies will ever truly have to face the music.

Sure they give up millions of dollars when they lose in court, but you can’t begin to put a price on the millions of lives lost over the years. They will just keep making money, maybe they should be dealt a different kind of justice for the damage they have created.

Soon we will see how this whole deal plays out, and if these 5 companies end up having to make some kind of retribution for medication marketing that have hurt a lot of people in the long run. Meanwhile people all over the country recover from addiction to opiates and other drugs with the help of strong support, and a great place to get the kind of support to take this kind of journey is Palm Partners. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Tweets against Prescription Addiction: #RxProblem Campaign

Tweets against Prescription Addiction: #RxProblem Campaign

Author: Justin Mckibben

This is the era of social media. Good or bad it is here to stay it seems, and while sometimes it can be abused, social media has opened new avenues for marketing, research, gathering and sharing information, and raising awareness. The constant connectivity of WiFi signals and the World Wide Web has given us the ability to reach out to people worlds away, giving each other images, experience and hope.

While I have admittedly written before talking about the dangers of social media and excessive and obsessive usage, I have also written about the positive side and the tools that it offers up to changing our understanding of mental health and stigma. Now one of the most popular social media tools of its time is being used to spread experience, strength and hope in a way that may make a world of difference for addiction.

The CDC Campaign

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is trying to get that conversation going, and so they have taken advantage of the miracle of social media with Twitter, hashtag (#) in hand to raise awareness about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. In an attempt to shed new light on the issue the CDC hopes to recognize prescription opioid abusers who have been working to change their lives for the better. This week the new campaign was launched with the initiative asking for the stories of those who have been affected by prescription painkiller addiction.

“When the Prescription Becomes the Problem” is that name of the new CDC campaign that was announced at the fourth annual National RX Drug Abuse Summit. The CDC hopes to establish a safe sanctuary so those who are or have been addicted to prescription painkillers by giving them an opportunity to step forward and tell their story. The idea is one not unfamiliar to those who are used to the rooms of recovery, and the thought of sharing experience and personal stories in regards to prescription painkiller addiction will get people talking about it, and help more people to relate and understand. The associate director for Communication at the CDC’s Injury Center, Erin Connelly, stated:

Prescription drug overdose devastates individuals, families and communities. We’d like to get everyone talking and thinking about the risks involved with opioid painkillers.” 

As with a lot of issues that come with a degree of stigma, raising awareness in the public eye is a vital part of creating change and inspiring innovation in treatment.

Approaching the Issues

Addiction is one of those conditions that’s origins are often debated, and there are various differing viewpoints on what motivates prescription painkiller addiction in particular, and how to prevent it. Some are firm in the belief that addictive behavior can be in some ways genetic, many also believe it is a perfect storm of both nature and nurture, but regardless the CDC believes it all starts in the doctor’s office.

According to the CDC, there were 16,235 deaths involving prescription opioids in 2013, an increase of 1% from 2012. With the escalating concerns with the overdose epidemic, especially in relation to opioid drugs, Connelly went on to explain this focus on the doctors and health care professionals:

“[The] CDC’s approach to prescription drug overdose remains on primary prevention of opioid addiction and overdose—that is, addressing the problematic opioid prescribing that created and continues to fuel the epidemic… States drive prevention—they regulate the health professions, run prescription drug monitoring programs, administer large public insurance programs like Medicaid, and have the public health surveillance capacity to track the behavior of the epidemic.”

The Fiscal Year 2015 Omnibus appropriations bill accumulated $20 million for the CDC to cultivate its Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention for States program, and that money will allow 17 states to improve their prescription drug monitoring programs as well as implement new, evidence-based prevention programs. Keeping doctor shopping and pill mills from supplying the prescription drug problem will make a huge difference.

Hashtag Hero

The usage of a hashtag (#) is an easy way to keep sources compiled and connected, and for a campaign designed to share as much experience, inspiration and solutions as possible it is an easily way to gain traction as a simple networking and marketing tool. If you want to get involved in the CDC’s “When the Prescription Becomes the Problem” campaign, or simply just to show your support, all you have to do is tweet a six-word message with the hashtag #RxProblem. Also through that hashtag you are given access to other information and stories.

Working together with the treatment industry and individuals from the recovery community the CDC is making the best of social media marketing in an attempt to get more of that message out there. The campaign is to run until May 15th, 2015.

We learn through early sobriety that a huge part of our recovery and the recovery of others is helping others. We should all do our part to helping the addict and alcoholic who still suffers from know there is a way out, and there are trained professionals ready and willing to welcome you to a new way of life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Approval Spreading for Overdose Antidote Clinics

Approval Spreading for Overdose Antidote Clinics

Author: Justin Mckibben

If you haven’t noticed, death by drug overdose continues to kill in staggering numbers, and the country’s population remains poisoned by the plague of prescription painkiller abuse and heroin addiction. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that an estimated 120 people die every single day from accidental drug overdose in the U.S. Experts have predicted that the snowballing sum of death is still years away from its peak, and that the body-count will reach 50,000 annual deaths before it shows any sign of stopping.

One of the key elements in the spread of the overdose epidemic is the limited and inefficient access to lifesaving resources and skills. There could be real improvement if we were about to see more availability to assets such as:

  • Opiate overdose antidote Naloxone
  • Training for Naloxone administration
  • Substance use disorder treatment
  • Mental health care
  • Education opportunities for youth, adults and professionals.

Thankfully there are officials out there who appreciate the importance of these causes if the country can hold out any hope of recovering from the outbreak. There are several different initiatives in different states hoping to make some revolutionary changes and get their communities the support they need.

Making an Impact

In just one week alone there were two huge developments in Illinois implemented that were designed to directly address the ongoing spike in opioid overdoses.

  1. Chicago Naloxone Clinic

The Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois saw the opening of a clinic that will distribute naloxone with permission from the Illinois Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse. This is the first overdose prevention clinic of its kind in Illinois; because it is allowed to freely distribute the life-saving naloxone medication to anyone who may need it, including drug users themselves.

  • The clinic is run by volunteers of the community, which involves:
  • Training people to administer naloxone
  • Providing opioid overdose education
  • Offering treatment referrals
  • Providing a safe place for concerned families and loved ones to get support

Many of the volunteers involved in this clinic have been directly affected by the growing number of heroin overdoses occurring around Chicago, and the clinic also has a medical doctor on staff.

  1. Passing Lali’s Law

Lali’s Law was inspired by Chelsea Laliberete. Laliberete started the Live4Lali organization with her family after losing her brother Alex to an overdose in 2008, and ever since has become a strong voice in the cause of overdose prevention activism.

This measure, which was unanimously approved by the senate’s public health committee vote, would make it legal for pharmacies to dispense naloxone and train people to administer the drug to someone overdosing.

Chelsea was quoted as stating,

“It creates a very needed and obvious access point to a lifesaving intervention in naloxone.”

“Hundreds of thousands of people enter their local Duane Reade, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid every day to get their prescription medications and syringes. So why shouldn’t they also be able to get the drug that’s going to save their life if they overdose?”

This kind of action isn’t all that outrageous, considering CVS recently announced that it would offer the opiate ‘antidote’ Narcan without a prescription at all of its 60 pharmacies in Rhode Island to help combat the overdose outbreak in the area. Chelsea boldly made the claim that with how bad this drug problem has become it’s almost irresponsible not to pass this bill. Seems like a legitimate argument considering that the demand for a steady supply of overdose disruptors.

Last year the FDA fast-tracked approval for a new auto-inject-able naloxone device, so with user-friendly naloxone gadgets from a variety of new pharmaceutical companies it should make this transition to more access to the general public a lot easier. It seems Big Pharma is still putting up a fight for prices, but maybe if more states get more naloxone clinics then the demand will help spread out the cost to supply.

So how much good do you think would come from having a naloxone clinic in your area? With this medication being the difference between a second chance at life and a heartbreaking and sudden death, could it be worth it for your state to provide resources to prevent overdose death? Or would they let someone like me slip through the cracks?

Education and resources save lives whether people realize it or not. It may not seem like putting together clinics across the country to train people on administering naloxone will change the world, but it is a step in the right direction as far as implementing more proactive forms of harm reduction. With the opiate epidemic dragging communities through hardship, educating communities on how to fight back is putting the power to change the trend in the hands of the people.

Naloxone is one of the most vital weapons we have in the war against the opiate overdose epidemic in America. It is our life-support on the front lines against addiction, and with a second chance at life further treatment can be given that helps recovering addicts find a more fulfilled life with freedom from drugs. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Is Drugged Driving the New Drunk Driving?

Is Drugged Driving the New Drunk Driving?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Drunk driving is a terrible and irresponsible action that too frequently results in death, whether for the driver, passenger or an unsuspecting motorist who becomes a victim in an accident. Drunk driving seems to be slowing down, and while some credit it to the efforts put forth by authorities to raise awareness or to technological advancements designed to provide safe alternatives for intoxicated drivers, the issue of driving while intoxicated has not completely disappeared.

There has been progress, and less people are driving drunk. However more people are hitting the roads high. Whether they are under the influence of marijuana or prescription drugs, according to two new reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drugged driving is the new drunk driving. Apparently too many people think that they can ‘control’ themselves better depending on the buzz, but end up endangering lives anyway.

Driving Intoxicated Increases

Drunk driving is a devastating reality that does far more damage than most people realize. One of the recent reports released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) stated that every 2 minutes a person is injured in a drunk driving accident, and every single day 28 people on average die from a drunk driving accident.

A recent study from another source stated that the rate of driving under the influence of alcohol has declined by nearly a third since 2007, but according to a 2014 survey an estimated 1 in every 4 people on the road tested positive for marijuana or prescription drugs. NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind was quoted saying,

“The latest roadside survey raises significant questions about drug use and highway safety. The rising prevalence of marijuana and other drugs is a challenge to everyone who is dedicated to saving lives and reducing crashes.”

The survey used for this data was taken every five years, whereby drivers can volunteer to pull over at an anonymous data-collection site. So these numbers do not come from arrest records. The survey found that in 2014

  • 8% of people driving on weekend nights had booze in their system, A little over 1% were above the legal limit, a 30% drop for the presence of alcohol from the rate in 2007.
  • 20% of drivers had drugs in their system on a weekend night. That was actually increased from 16.3% in 2007. Also, the rate of driving under the influence of pot had nearly doubled.

There is still no direct evidence the shows a correlation between marijuana use and accidents. NHTSA did determine that drivers who used marijuana were at a higher risk of car accidents, but the same can be said about how common marijuana use is among young men, who are already at higher risk of an accident than female drivers, regardless of marijuana consumption.

Mark Rosekind also expressed gratitude that some results had shown from the efforts to fight drunk driving, but acknowledged the urgency and importance of the need to better understand how illegal drugs and prescription medicines affect highway safety. In the past there have been people trying to create and perfect devices that can be used like marijuana breathalyzers, but as of now none of these had proven wholly effective.

So for now, the best tool that we have to stop drugged driving from taking up the mantle where drunk driving is falling behind. With marijuana reform, the plague of prescription painkiller problems, and a war against opiate overdose and other dangerous narcotics, this battle is an essential one. Getting behind the wheel under the influence, regardless of the substance, is a blatant disregard for the lives of those around you, and your own.

Drugged and drunk driving are both terrible and deadly actions that can always be avoided. If you find yourself so out of control that you are repeatedly in this situation, or getting arrested for DUI’s, then it may be safe to say you could use some help before someone gets hurt. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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