Opioid Crisis News | September 23, 2019

PR Newswire PR Newswire • September 26, 2019

The opioid crisis continues to grip the American public. While strides continue to be made, much still needs to be done to raise opioid awareness. In this next part of our ongoing series, we look at recent developments, including several stories on what is being done on the state level to make opioid dependence less of a public health crisis.

Massachusetts Senator Proposes Legislation To Combat Opioid Epidemic

Boston’s South End, a respite for numerous homeless people struggling with drug addiction, has just received the attention of local legislatures in an effort to combat the current opioid crisis. Sen. Nick Collins  (D-South Boston) recently proposed legislation to combat the problem and, during a walk along the notorious area known as “Methadone Mile,” spoke to reporters about how the problem has impacted him directly. “I had to come here and search for a loved one battling addiction. No one knew where my cousin was after she ran from treatment,” Collins said. Family members eventually found the cousin and she was sent to court to seek addiction treatment under Section 35, a law that allows a family member to petition the court to hold someone for addiction treatment against his or her will. Section 35 does have limitations, leading Collins to propose a different law that would hold someone for 72 hours after a petition is filed with the court.

Collins has also recommended establishing separate recovery facilities to better help addicts. As of right now, many end up in correctional facilities, which many Massachusetts residents believe is not a helpful place for addicts to seek recovery. Collins has proposed legislation that would allocate $2 million annually to set up homeless services and addiction treatments around Boston Harbor. Collins believes both federal and state action is required to address this continuing issue.

Pennsylvania Governor Fights To End Stigma Associated With Opioid Dependence

Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania has joined with the Independence Blue Cross to end the stigma surrounding those who seek treatment for opioid addiction. Recently in the state, Naloxone kits have been offered for pickup at 78 locations. They can be found in distribution centers around Pennsylvania, and one week prior, more than 4,000 kits were distributed to people in need.

Naloxone is a medication that works to reverse the effects of an opioid-related drug overdose. One study found that more than 25,000 individuals in Pennsylvania had been revived using Naloxone since 2014.

Ohio Kids Learn About the Devastating Impact of the Opioid Crisis

Ohio has been one of the states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic. In 2017, Ohio ranked second in the country in regards to the rate of overdose deaths, with roughly 4,300 people losing their lives. While the battle rages on to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in the problem, Ohio students are learning firsthand about the problem. The Minford Local School District recently started a program to help children impacted by the opioid crisis.

Through the program, kids learn about the physical, behavioral and emotional consequences of opioid dependence. At a single Ohio elementary school, nearly half of all students have experienced drug use in their homes. Minford Elementary even provides some students with exercise balls, toys and blankets. Many children at this school were born dependent on the drugs, so those with special needs can receive the resources they need to cope with their dependencies. Other children can learn how to deal with seeing their parents suffer from opioid abuse.

Penn Med Study Reveals Growth in Opioid Prescriptions Following Eye Surgeries

Over the last several decades, the rate of opioid dependence has skyrocketed, due in part due to the higher number of opioid prescriptions written for people undergoing surgery. A recent study out of Penn Med revealed that from 2000 to 2014, the number of opioid prescriptions written after eye surgeries doubled.

This is particularly surprising considering the ocular field has undergone innovations to make surgeries less painful. Theoretically, patients should not need as many painkillers for less invasive surgeries. Scientists researching the study expected the number of opioid prescriptions to decrease during that time period, but the opposite proved to be true.

The team looked at various demographics and found that people living in the Mountain region were more likely to fill their opioid prescriptions than people living in the Northeast. Males, blacks and individuals who did not have a bachelor’s degree were more likely to fill their prescriptions, too. A similar study was recently conducted that found that pet opioid prescriptions also climbed within the last 10 years. The trend indicates that various medical fields increased their opioid prescription rate, which undoubtedly contributed to the crisis the country now has to deal with.

The Future of Pain Management

Lastly, the future of pain management has received a lot of attention. One option is an oxycodone pill known as Xtampza ER, which is more difficult to abuse than regular opioids. More doctors have begun to lean toward non-opioid plans, with roughly 10% of these experimental drugs being approved out of Phase 1 clinical trials. While there are some hopeful prescription medications on the horizon, more research is necessary to see if they will one day overtake opioids in managing pain.

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