Canadian Doctor to U.S. Senators: Consider Legally Prescribed Heroin to Fight Abuse

Canadian Doctor to U.S. Senators: Consider Legally Prescribed Heroin to Fight Abuse
The head of a Canadian clinic that provides legally prescribed heroin to people addicted to the drug told U.S. senators this week the strategy can reduce the risk of serious illness and premature death, while reducing drug-related crime. Dr. Scott MacDonald, lead physician at the Crosstown Clinic in Vancouver, Canada, told members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that providing legal heroin to people addicted to the drug can improve their mental and physical health, according to U.S. News & World Report . “While methadone and buprenorphine are effective treatments for many people and should remain first line responses, no single treatment is effective for all individuals,” MacDonald said in his testimony. “Every person left untreated is at high risk for serious illness and premature death.” The Crosstown Clinic is the only place in Canada that provides legal heroin, called diacetylmorphine. The clinic also provides...
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New Partnership Helps 17 States Share Information to Fight Heroin Crisis

New Partnership Helps 17 States Share Information to Fight Heroin Crisis
A new federally funded program is partnering with police departments and health departments in 17 states in the northeast and beyond to share information quickly to respond to the heroin crisis. The new initiative, known as the Heroin Response Strategy , funded by the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, has hired drug enforcement officers and public health analysts in each of those states to share information on drug trafficking and drug overdoses. “There are thousands of police departments across the country, and they all face the challenge of opioid abuse—pills, heroin, fentanyl or a combination—which together are the leading cause of preventable death,” said Chauncey Parker, Director of the New York/New Jersey HIDTA, one of the seven HIDTA programs working together in the Heroin Response Strategy. A key challenge has been the lack of a structured way for police departments to efficiently share information about drug trafficking across the...
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Heroin Overdoses Becoming More Visible in Public Spaces

Heroin Overdoses Becoming More Visible in Public Spaces
The heroin epidemic is becoming increasingly visible as more people who use the drug are overdosing in public spaces, The New York Times reports. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, several people overdosed in the bathrooms of a church, leading church officials to close the bathrooms to the public. “We weren’t medically equipped or educated to handle overdoses, and we were desperately afraid we were going to have something happen that was way out of our reach,” said the Reverend Joseph O. Robinson, Rector of Christ Church Cambridge. Police in many towns find people who have been using heroin unconscious or dead in cars, fast-food restaurant bathrooms, on public transportation, and in parks, hospitals and libraries. Some people who use heroin seek out towns where emergency medical workers carry the opioid overdose antidote naloxone (Narcan), the article notes. They know “if they do overdose, there’s a good likelihood that when police respond, they’ll...
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Virtual Reality Tested for Heroin Addiction Treatment

Virtual Reality Tested for Heroin Addiction Treatment
Researchers at the University of Houston are testing whether virtual reality can be used to treat people addicted to heroin. They will navigate a simulated house party with stimuli that evoke drug cravings, according to Reuters . The virtual reality program includes two environments. One is a house party where heroin is snorted, and the other is a party where the drug is injected. The program uses an eight-camera infrared system. It projects life-sized 3-D avatars and environments. Participants interact with them in a chamber known as a “heroin cave,” the article notes. Details that could trigger a heroin craving include an open pizza box on the back patio, and cash on a table next to a cigarette lighter. “In traditional therapy we role-play with the patient but the context is all wrong,” said one of the study leaders, Patrick Bordnick. “They know they’re in a therapist’s office and the...
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Mayor of Ithaca, NY Wants to Host Nation’s First Supervised Heroin Injection Facility

Mayor of Ithaca, NY Wants to Host Nation’s First Supervised Heroin Injection Facility
The mayor of Ithaca, New York says he wants his city to be the first in the United States to host a supervised injection facility for people who use heroin, the Associated Press reports. The facility would allow people to inject heroin under the care of a nurse, without getting arrested. The mayor, Svante Myrick, is the son of a man who was addicted to drugs, the article notes. Myrick lived in a homeless shelter and went to Cornell University. Four years ago he became Ithaca’s youngest mayor, at age 24. “I have watched for 20 years this system that just doesn’t work,” Myrick told the AP. “We can’t wait anymore for the federal government. We have people shooting up in alleys. In bathroom stalls. And too many of them are dying.” Myrick said the injection facility would be part of a holistic approach to drug abuse in Ithaca that...
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Police Try New Approach to Heroin Crisis

Police Try New Approach to Heroin Crisis
A growing number of police departments are trying new approaches to battling the heroin epidemic, the Associated Press reports. Instead of simply arresting people, they are helping steer people into treatment. In Colerain Township in Ohio, a “Quick Response Team” includes police officers, paramedics and addiction counselors. Dan Meloy, the township’s Public Safety Director, told the AP the program appears to be having an impact already. When the program started last July, Meloy thought the township would end up with more than 200 overdoses in 2015. By the end of the year, there were 167 overdoses. The program is also helping to reduce other crimes, Meloy noted. “They’re not breaking into their neighbors’ sheds, they’re not robbing the local stores, they’re not stealing from their families trying to feed their habit,” he said. John Tharp, sheriff in Lucas County, Ohio, says some people object to this new approach, and say...
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Poll Finds Widespread Concern Over Heroin Addiction

Poll Finds Widespread Concern Over Heroin Addiction
A new poll finds 49 percent of Americans say heroin use is a very serious national problem, while an additional 38 percent say it is a somewhat serious problem. The HuffPost/YouGov poll found 46 percent of whites and 59 percent of both blacks and Hispanics say heroin addiction is a very serious problem, The Huffington Post reports. More than one-third of respondents say they know someone who has been addicted to heroin or another opiate, and about half say that heroin use is at least as much of an issue in their community as it is elsewhere. Only 8 percent of respondents said they think heroin abuse is more common among blacks than whites. In contrast, a 2005 poll on heroin found 37 percent of respondents thought heroin abuse was a greater problem for minorities, while 26 percent thought heroin use was more of a problem for whites. When asked...
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Massachusetts Officials Report Eight Deaths in One Week From “Hollywood” Heroin

Massachusetts Officials Report Eight Deaths in One Week From “Hollywood” Heroin
Massachusetts State Police report eight people have died in one week from a deadly strain of heroin known as “Hollywood” heroin. Officials say they are not sure how long the strain has been in the state. The deaths were reported in small cities in Western Massachusetts, CNN reports. State officials say they are investigating why this strain of heroin is so deadly. There may be additional dangerous chemicals added to the batch, according to Holyoke Police Department Lt. Jim Albert. The strain may be so pure that even some people addicted to heroin can’t handle it, he noted. A few people who used the deadly strain of heroin were saved by the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. While police seized 9,000 bags of heroin with the “Hollywood” stamp and arrested four people on heroin trafficking charges, there still may be more of the heroin circulating, according to Springfield Police Sgt. John...
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Treatment Admissions Increase for Heroin and Painkillers

Treatment Admissions Increase for Heroin and Painkillers
A growing number of Americans are seeking treatment for addiction to heroin and prescription painkillers, while alcohol-related treatment admissions are declining, according to a new report. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found 19 percent of admissions to publicly funded substance-use treatment programs were related to heroin in 2013, up from 15 percent in 2003. Admissions for opioid painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin increased from 3 percent to 9 percent during that period, HealthDay reports. Alcohol-related admissions declined from 42 percent to 38 percent during that period. Overall admissions decreased from almost 1.9 million to just under 1.7 million. Admissions for marijuana rose from 16 percent to 17 percent, while those for methamphetamine/amphetamines increased from 6 percent to 9 percent. Cocaine-related admissions (including crack) decreased from 14 percent to 6 percent. In 2013, 55 percent of patients admitted for treatment said they used more than one...
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The White House Tackles Opioid Addiction With New Plan

The White House Tackles Opioid Addiction With New Plan
President Obama traveled to West Virginia this week to announce steps to curb the rise in deaths from prescription drug overdoses. He is mandating more training of federal doctors and requiring federal health insurance plans to treat addiction, reported The New York Times . In the Times article, a White House official stated that they had “identified prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse as critical problems.” Previously, the Obama administration has worked to address excessive prescribing practices, being mindful that patients experiencing pain, like those suffering from cancer, can get the medicine they need. Currently, the federal government does not regulate the practice of medicine, and only West Virginia and nine other states require specialized training for doctors who prescribe opioids. Deaths from prescription drug abuse total to more than 20,000 people in the United States each year, making it the country’s leading cause of death by injury. Recently, this...
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Facing Addiction and The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) are proud to announce the merger of our organizations – creating a national leader in turning the tide on the addiction epidemic.
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