Drugs are prepared to shoot intravenously by a user addicted to heroin on Feb. 6, 2014, in St. Johnsbury Vermont. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin recently devoted his entire State of the State speech to the scourge of heroin. Heroin and other opiates have begun to devastate many communities in the Northeast and Midwest leading to a surge in fatal overdoses in a number of states. As prescription painkillers, such as the synthetic opiate OxyContin, become increa | Spencer Platt via Getty Images
Overdose deaths linked to heroin jumped 39 percent in 2013 from the year before, according to data released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC said 8,257 people died of heroin-related deaths in 2013, compared with 5,925 deaths in 2012. The number of overdose deaths overall increased to 43,982 from 41,340.
Many more Americans die from prescription opioids. But the rise in fatal heroin overdoses came as users of prescription painkillers switched to the cheaper, illicit street drug. The heroin deaths contributed to an overall 6 percent jump in drug overdose deaths in 2013 from 2012. Read more…
Tina Wolf demonstrates the use of naloxone to community members in Lindenhurst, N.Y., during an overdose prevention training. Georgia Dolan-Reilly (left) of the Suffolk County Prevention Resource Center helped with the training.
Kevin Hagen for NPR
When Priscilla Graham-Farmer went to get her hair done in Newark, N.J., recently, she noticed the elevator in the building was broken, so she took the stairs. And that’s when Graham-Farmer saw him: a young guy sprawled out, not breathing.
“He was literally turning blue,” she says. “And everybody was walking over him.”
But Graham-Farmer stopped. And looked closer. She saw that he had a needle and some cotton balls. The guy had clearly overdosed.
“I’m screaming in the hallway,” Graham-Farmer remembers. “Nobody’s answering.” Click here for the rest of the story…
The Public Health Alliance for Syringe Access (PHASA) was formed in 2011 as an ad hoc policy committee to the Nevada State AIDS Task Force to bring forth policy change regarding Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 458.480, which prohibited the distribution of hypodermic devices beyond medical purposes. This law served as a barrier to reduce the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne illnesses by inhibiting syringe service programs and the distribution of hypodermic devices to people who inject drugs. Syringe Service programs are considered evidence based practice to reduce the spread of disease among people who inject drugs and have also provided linkages into continued care.
In 2012, PHASA evolved to become an ad hoc policy of the Northern Nevada Outreach Team (NNOT) with the same mission in mind. Taking lessons from the 2011 Nevada legislative session, PHASA conducted a statewide needs assessment for syringe access to obtain localized data, mobilized the community for support and testimony, and educated all of Nevada on the benefits of syringe service programs. In 2013, SB 410 passed (sponsored by Senator David Parks) and Governor Brian Sandoval signed legislation into law. In 2014, the first syringe service program in Nevada opened called Change Point in Reno, Nevada.
PHASA has since evolved to the Public Health Alliance for Safety Access to tackle further policy, systems and environmental changes that will establish sound law regarding health and wellness for all Nevadans. In the 2015 legislative session, PHASA will be tackling the regulation of naloxone distribution which provides as a barrier to reduce opioid overdose deaths in Nevada. Additionally, PHASA will be supporting legislative reform to institute a Good Samaritan Law in Nevada which will protect people from persecution if they assist an individual who may be fatally sick from a drug overdose.
n this 2011 photo, results of a Regional Street Enforcement Team and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency raid show 3 pounds of heroin, 3 ounces of cocaine and $10,639 in cash.
(Photo: RGJ file photo )
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Some states, including Nevada, are reporting a rise in heroin use as many addicts shift from more costly and harder-to-get prescription opiates to this cheaper alternative. A look at what’s happening in Nevada:
Drug counselors and law enforcement officers say they see a direct tie between heroin use and abuse of prescription painkillers like Oxycodone. Patients become hooked on doctor prescribed medications, then go in search of supplies on the black market when their prescriptions run out. But a single pill on the street can run as much as $80 a pop. Heroin is more prevalent on the street and cheaper — about $15 for a fix.
But officials are also seeing younger people trying heroin at an earlier age. “Ten or 12 years ago we saw no kids using heroin or opiates,” said Kevin Quint, bureau chief for the state Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Agency. “The last four or five years, the numbers have increased dramatically.”
Reno Police Sgt. Ron Chalmers said law enforcement has seen a massive increase in the amount of heroin seizures in recent years. He’s also experienced the heartache of heroin, having watched his younger brother struggle with addiction most of his adult life. Read More…
Glenna, a FROST’D worker, holds up photographs of when she was using. March 27th, 2014. Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed
With heroin use at epidemic levels, harm reduction — a bold, long-contested approach to treating addicts — is gaining political traction. But are we ready to make it easier to shoot heroin even if it means fewer deaths?
On a chilly Monday morning in mid-March on Coney Island, down Surf Avenue from the famous Wonder Wheel and Cyclone, a parked Dodge van blasts its heater. Stuffed with all manner of injection-drug paraphernalia — needles of different gauges, cookers, ties, pearl-sized cotton balls, alcohol wipes — as well as plastic bags of nonperishable food items called “pantry” and thousands of condoms and lube packets, it’s a clinical stockroom meets therapist’s office on wheels. The van has these supplies to make using drugs safer, all for free — though getting high in the van is not permitted.
Ian, 60, sits in the back of the van, rubbing his hands to keep warm. “I used for over 45 years. Last 25 years was basically crack,” he says. He suffered what he calls “three minor strokes” that doctors said should have killed him, but kept getting high. So when someone slid a flier under his door for something called harm reduction — an approach to combating drug use that allows the person to continue to get high, but in a safer way — he was interested. Slowly, he decreased his use from daily, to weekends, to monthly — until he could finally quit. Now he works for FROST’D (Foundation for Research on Sexually Transmitted Diseases) — one of New York City’s harm reduction programs and the organization that runs this mobile unit — as a peer educator, a paid, part-time position that serves as a bridge between the staff and the communities they serve. Read More…
Researchers at George Washington University found a dramatic increase in opioid prescriptions during emergency department visits over the last decade, while only a modest increase in pain-related complaints.
“This trend is especially concerning given dramatic increases in opioid-related overdoses and fatalities in recent years,” said Maryann Mazer-Amirshahi, M.D., co-author of the study and adjunct instructor of emergency medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS). “Using prescription opioids to treat acute painful conditions in emergency departments and hospitals might do more harm than good, as they can potentially lead to misuse and addiction. More needs to be done to monitor opioid prescriptions in emergency departments — having recommended standard approaches may be a good starting point.”
Read more here