2020 ‘exacerbated all of the issues’ driving record drug abuse in America

From Yahoo News:

The coronavirus pandemic has had devastating mental health effects on Americans, and drug abuse is hitting record levels.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. in the 12-month period ending in May 2020. That’s the highest number ever recorded by the CDC.

“This pandemic and all that’s come along with it has really just exacerbated those vulnerabilities and the shortcomings of our own approach to treating those people,” Dr. Ryan Marino, a medical toxicologist and emergency physician based out of Ohio, told Yahoo Finance.

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The Deadliest Year In the History of U.S. Drug Use

From New York Magazine:

While over 300,000 Americans and counting have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, another public-health disaster is taking more lives than ever before: drug overdoses.

Overdose deaths in 2019 were significantly higher than 2018, jumping from 67,367 deaths in 2018 to 70,630 overdose deaths in 2019, marking a nearly 5 percent increase, according to a new report issued Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If that’s not grim enough, a separate health alert published by the CDC this week reports a “concerning acceleration” in overdose deaths for 2020, which provisional data show is on track to be the deadliest year for U.S. drug overdose deaths in recorded history. Complete data for 2020 is not expected to be available until some time next year.

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Statement of Elaine Pozycki, Founder of Prevent Opioid Abuse in Response to Purdue Pharma Guilty Plea

From Business Wire:

Purdue Pharma’s agreement to plead guilty to felony charges in part for illegally incentivizing doctors to prescribe more opioid-based pain relievers to patients, even-though the company knew full well how highly addictive these medicines are, underscores the importance of warning patients of the risks of addiction and discussing non-opioid pain relief alternatives. Patients who are being prescribed these medications have the right to be informed, by the prescriber, of the addictive qualities of these drugs as well as any non-opioid alternatives that are available.”

Eighteen states now have passed the Patient Opioid Notification Act, requiring this potentially life-saving conversation between doctor and patient. In a nation where more than 150 million opioid-painkiller prescriptions are written each year, and there are 50,000 annual opioid deaths, it is long past time for this to be the requirement in every state in the nation.”

About Prevent Opioid Abuse

Prevent Opioid Abuse is a national organization working to educate patients and parents about the risks of opioid-based painkillers and the availability of non-opioid alternatives. For additional information, visit https://preventopioidabuse.org/

Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges for Opioid Sales

From the New York Times:

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges related to its marketing of the addictive painkiller, and faces penalties of roughly $8.3 billion, the Justice Department announced on Wednesday. The settlement could pave the way for a resolution of thousands of lawsuits brought against the company for its role in a public health crisis that has killed more than 450,000 Americans since 1999.

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Melissa Etheridge talks son’s OD death and what she’s doing to honor him

““Etheridge shared that Beckett, who is one of two children Etheridge had with former partner Julie Cypher, was first introduced to painkillers after he broke his ankle during a snowboarding incident. That led to a downward spiral.“

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Preventing the opioid epidemic from getting worse requires attacking it at the source

From TheHill.com:

Experts are predicting, and we are beginning to see, a significant uptick in opioid use disorder and overdoses as a result of the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. We know that stress and isolation are significant contributors to the onset of opioid use disorder, and we also know that the reduced access to substance use disorder and mental health treatment spurred by the pandemic will make this crisis worse.

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‘Cries for help’: Drug overdoses are soaring during the coronavirus pandemic

Suspected overdoses nationally jumped 18 percent in March, 29 percent in April and 42 percent in May, data from ambulance teams, hospitals and police shows.

Anahi Ortiz, a medical examiner in Columbus, Ohio, and her staff recently moved into a facility three times the size of their old office. They’re already out of space.
Anahi Ortiz, a medical examiner in Columbus, Ohio, and her staff recently moved into a facility three times the size of their old office. They’re already out of space. (Ty Wright/For The Washington Post)

By William Wan and Heather Long
July 1, 2020 at 9:00 AM EDT
The bodies have been arriving at Anahi Ortiz’s office in frantic spurts — as many as nine overdose deaths in 36 hours. “We’ve literally run out of wheeled carts to put them on,” said Ortiz, a coroner in Columbus, Ohio.

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Yahoo Finance – Brandeis University Study Shows Few Opioid Prescribers Warned Patients of Risk of Addiction Before State Requirement

From Yahoo Finance:

Founder of Prevent Opioid Abuse says findings take on a new importance as COVID-19 is predicted to up substance abuse disorder

A New Jersey law requiring conversations between prescribers and patients to discuss risks of addiction before an opioid-based pain reliever is prescribed, resulted in a more than fourfold increase in the percentage of doctors warning patients about the risks of addiction and a significant drop in patients started on opioids. The study was conducted by Dr. Andrew Kolodny, medical director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Dr. Kolodny presented the findings today at the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, which was held virtually, rather than at its original Nashville location.

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Opioid Addiction Is ‘A Disease Of Isolation,’ So Pandemic Puts Recovery At Risk

Before the spreading coronavirus became a pandemic, Emma went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting every week in the Boston area and to another support group at her methadone clinic. She says she felt safe, secure and never judged.

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Still A Crisis: How Congress Continues To Battle Opioid Addiction

From Forbes.com:

We have to keep talking about the opioid crisis. Our approach to dealing with America’s addiction is expensive, and still struggling. Yes, we have seen a reduction in opiate overdose deaths since the widespread distribution of lifesaving Narcan administered in emergencies. And yes, significant work has been accomplished on state and federal levels to provide more access to treatment, but the costs, casualties, and care are still not where we need to be. 

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