This Week's News in Substance Use: 12/29/17

Addiction Inc., The New York Times

“America’s addiction crisis ranks among the great epidemics of our age. Millions of people have fallen victim to painkiller [misuse], alcoholism, the rise of meth and the revival of heroin. Sorrowful tales of death at a young age and of families torn apart have become a defining feature of the early 21st century American experience.

“In crisis, there is opportunity — and entrepreneurs have swept in. The industry of addiction treatment is haphazardly regulated, poorly understood and expanding at a rapid clip, bringing in $35 billion a year. Remarkably, this business is often conducted behind the closed doors of suburban homes scattered across the nation. With this report, we open those doors.”

A Tale of Two Drug Wars, Pacific Standard

“More than 30 years after Congress established new mandatory minimums for illegal drugs with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, it seems America's drug crisis has only gotten worse. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published last month showed that the rate of death from overdose over the last quarter of 2016 in the United States had exploded to 20.6 per 100,000 people, topping the previous record of 19.1 per 100,000 people seen during the preceding quarter, and a full 20 percent increase over the 16 per 100,000 overdose rate Americans experienced during the fourth quarter of 2015.”

Dr. Phil Says He Rescues People from Addiction. Others Say His Show Puts Guests’ Health at Risk, STAT

“America’s best-known television doctor presents himself as a crusader for recovery who rescues people from their addictions — and even death. But in its pursuit of ratings, the ‘Dr. Phil’ show has put at risk the health of some of those guests it purports to help, according to people who have been on the show and addiction experts. Guests have been left without medical help as they face withdrawal from drugs, a STAT/Boston Globe investigation has found, and one person said she was directed by a show staff member to an open-air drug market to find heroin for her detoxing niece.”

After Drug Treatment, Men in Recovery Work to Live a 'Normal Life', NPR

“When we first met Jarrod Book, Aaron Pardue and Terry Lilly, they were getting ready to begin navigating normal life in one of the hardest-hit cities by the epidemic, in the state that has led the nation in deaths related to [misuse] of opioids like heroin and prescription drugs.

Matt Boggs also graduated from the Recovery Point treatment program several years ago; he's now the executive director and worked with all three men. In addition to the work of staying drug-free, Boggs says leaving treatment poses a range of challenges, from finding housing and employment to getting adequate healthcare.”

The Opioid Crisis Is Getting Worse, Particularly for Black Americans, The New York Times

“The epidemic of drug overdoses, often perceived as a largely white rural problem, made striking inroads among black Americans last year — particularly in urban counties where fentanyl has become widespread.

Although the steep rise in 2016 drug deaths has been noted previously, these are the first numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to break down 2016 mortality along geographic and racial lines. They reveal that the drug death rate is rising most steeply among blacks, with those between the ages of 45 and 64 among the hardest hit.”