Shortage of Addiction Treatment Personnel Intensifies as Opioid Crisis Worsens

Shortage of Addiction Treatment Personnel Intensifies as Opioid Crisis Worsens
Addiction treatment centers are struggling to find enough qualified personnel as the opioid crisis worsens, The Wall Street Journal reports. Retention of addiction treatment workers has long been an issue because of low pay, high burnout rate and the stigma attached to addiction, the article notes. Many counselors move on to other fields after several years. There are many reasons the demand for addiction treatment workers—including psychiatrists, licensed counselors and house aides—is increasing. The number of patients addicted to heroin and prescription painkillers is on the rise. The Affordable Care Act requires private insurance companies and Medicaid to cover substance use disorders, and states that have expanded Medicaid under the law have made coverage available to many new patients. In addition, a growing number of localities are steering drug offenders to treatment instead of prison. “Our biggest problem right now is a lack of workforce,” said Becky Vaughn, Vice President...
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New York Battles Opioid Epidemic by Requiring Electronic Prescribing

New York Battles Opioid Epidemic by Requiring Electronic Prescribing
New York has become the second state to require electronic prescribing, in an effort to combat the opioid addiction epidemic. Minnesota has required e-prescribing since 2011, Marketwatch reports. Only two other states – Massachusetts and Maine – are currently considering similar requirements, the article notes. Under New York’s new law, all prescriptions in the state must be issued electronically after late March. The effort is aimed at reducing forged prescriptions. Lawmakers hope the measure will also reinforce the state’s drug prescription monitoring system, which is designed to cut down on “doctor shopping” by patients seeking multiple prescriptions. Only 1.4 percent of providers nationwide were equipped to e-prescribe controlled substances, including opioid painkillers, in 2014, according to the electronic prescription network Surescripts. Doctors say implementing e-prescribing is both complicated and expensive. “E-prescribing in the right circumstances is fast, efficient and liked by patients and pharmacists and physicians. But there are many...
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More Funding, Stronger Measures Needed to Fight Opioid Addiction, Officials Say

More Funding, Stronger Measures Needed to Fight Opioid Addiction, Officials Say
More funding and stronger measures are needed to fight opioid addiction, officials said recently at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They called for greater access to addiction treatment and more stringent rules for painkiller prescribing. Speakers at the hearing included governors, U.S. senators and law enforcement officials, according to The Wall Street Journal . They said heroin and painkiller addiction is overwhelming health care workers, police and families across the nation. In 2014, more than 47,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I have never seen anything like this, in terms of the epidemic we are facing,” New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte told the hearing. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, also from New Hampshire, called the problem a pandemic that affects “young and old, urban and rural, rich and poor, whites and minorities.” The hearing was called in part to...
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Massachusetts Dental Schools Will Train Students in Opioid Abuse Prevention

Massachusetts Dental Schools Will Train Students in Opioid Abuse Prevention
Dental schools in Massachusetts have agreed to begin training their students in opioid abuse prevention and management, WBUR reports. The state already has reached similar agreements with the heads of the state’s medical schools. “The fact is that over 80 percent of those prescriptions which are diverted or misused comes from prescriptions written by physicians and dentists,” said Dr. David Keith, a Massachusetts General Hospital oral surgeon who is also on the faculty at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. He said the agreement is a unique opportunity for the dental schools and the Massachusetts Dental Society to “come together to educate our dentists and advanced dental trainees in the correct prescribing of opioids,” including alternative pain management techniques and proper referral practices to other disciplines. The agreement between Governor Charlie Baker, the deans of the state’s dental schools, and the Massachusetts Dental Society will cover the 1,800 undergraduates and...
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FDA Announces Plan to Reassess Approach to Opioids

FDA Announces Plan to Reassess Approach to Opioids
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced it will reassess its approach to opioid medications, in an effort to reverse the epidemic of abuse. The plan comes in response to pressure from Congress, The New York Times reports. FDA Deputy Commissioner for Medical Products and Tobacco Dr. Robert Califf said Thursday the agency will toughen its response to the opioid crisis, while still allowing patients in pain to have access to effective relief. The agency said it will convene an expert panel before approving new opioids. It will toughen requirements to study drugs after they come to market, and increase access to pain management training for physicians and other prescribers. “Things are getting worse, not better, with the epidemic of opioid misuse, abuse and dependence,” Califf said in a news release. “It’s time we all took a step back to look at what is working and what we...
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White House Asks for More Than $1 Billion in New Funding for Opioid Addiction Treatment

White House Asks for More Than $1 Billion in New Funding for Opioid Addiction Treatment
President Obama is asking for more than $1 billion in new funding to address the opioid epidemic, USA Today reports. The funding would expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use. Under the proposal, the new funds would be used to help people with an opioid use disorder to seek and successfully complete treatment and sustain recovery. It would expand access to substance use treatment providers and to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. The funds will be included in the fiscal year 2017 budget request, the article notes. They include $920 million to support agreements with states to expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. States can use these funds to expand treatment and lower the cost of services. Fifty million dollars would be used to expand access to 700 substance use treatment providers in areas that need mental health treatment the most, while...
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Two Senators Call on Congress to Fund Effort to Combat Opioid Epidemic

Two Senators Call on Congress to Fund Effort to Combat Opioid Epidemic
Two U.S. senators are calling on Congress to pass an emergency spending bill to combat the growing opioid epidemic, according to The Hill . Senators Angus King of Maine and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire are asking for $600 million in funding. Senator Shaheen introduced legislation last year that would provide supplemental funding, including $225 million for the Department of Justice to increase spending for state and local initiatives on drug treatment and law enforcement programs. That amount would include $25 million to assist state drug task forces in dealing with particularly high rates of heroin abuse. The measure would provide $375 million to the Department of Health and Human Services to fund programs to prevent substance abuse and prescription drug overdoses. The funds would also go toward research on drug addiction, and programs targeting underage drinking and drug abuse among young people ages 12 to 25. Earlier this month,...
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High Prescribing Rates Likely Factor in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Increase

High Prescribing Rates Likely Factor in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Increase
High prescribing rates of opioid painkillers are likely a factor in the increase in neonatal abstinence syndrome, according to the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dr. Nora Volkow wrote the British Medical Journa l that between 2000 and 2009, the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome among newborns increased from 1.2 to 3.4 per 1,000 live births. An estimated 14 percent to 22 percent of pregnant women in the United States are prescribed opioid painkillers, HealthDay reports. There have been reports of an increase in the rate of painkiller abuse among pregnant women, the article notes. Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome undergo withdrawal from the addictive drugs their mothers took during pregnancy, such as oxycodone, morphine or hydrocodone. The syndrome affected seven babies for every 1,000 admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit in 2004. That number jumped to 27 infants per 1,000 by 2013. Opioid use...
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Opposition to Federal Effort to Curb Painkiller Prescribing

Opposition to Federal Effort to Curb Painkiller Prescribing
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) face stiff opposition to its effort to reduce prescribing of opioid painkillers, the Associated Press reports. Critics of new prescribing guidelines include drug manufacturers, industry-funded groups and some public health officials. The guidelines, which were originally scheduled to be released this month, are designed to reverse the increase in deadly overdoses of opioid painkillers such as Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet. They are not binding. Opponents of the guidelines say they have been largely written behind closed doors, the AP notes. Officials from the Food and Drug Administration and other health agencies called the guidelines “shortsighted,” relying on “low-quality evidence.” The officials said they plan to file a formal complaint. Following the officials’ comments, the CDC said the guidelines would not be released in January, and opened them to public comment for 30 days. “This is a big win for the opioid lobby,”...
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Three-Fourths of High School Students Who Use Heroin Have Also Used Painkillers

Three-Fourths of High School Students Who Use Heroin Have Also Used Painkillers
A survey of high school students finds 77 percent of those who use heroin say they also have used opioid painkillers for non-medical purposes. The survey of more than 67,000 high school seniors over a five-year period found 12.4 percent reported lifetime nonmedical opioid use and 1.2 percent reported lifetime heroin use. The more often teens used opioids for nonmedical purposes, the higher the odds they also used heroin, HealthDay reports. “The more times a teen uses nonprescribed painkiller pills, the greater the risk he or she is at for becoming dependent on the drug,” said lead researcher Joseph Palamar of New York University. “People who become dependent on painkiller pills often wind up resorting to heroin use because it’s cheaper and more available than these pills.” White students are more likely than black or Hispanic students to use opioid painkillers or heroin, the survey found. Black and Hispanic students...
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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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