Stay supported, connected, and healthy during COVID-19 

Here's how

This Week's News in Substance Use: 1/26/18

'Someone Needs to Take the First Step': Philadelphia Looks to Fight Opioid Crisis by Becoming First US City to Open Supervised Injection Centres, The Independent

“As the United States wrestles with the effects of a devastating opioid epidemic – with the Trump administration promising action, but so far delivering very little in concrete steps – attention is turning to a new programme in Philadelphia.

“Local officials have announced their intention to open supervised drug injection sites, with the city facing the largest opioid death rate of any major US city. While not condoning illegal drug use, authorities hope the new approach will encourage people to get help. Experts say there is a good chance the measures could save lives and potentially encourage other cities that have considered doing so to try.

“’Someone needs to take the first step in the United States, and I think others will look to Philadelphia,’ said Samantha Arsenault, the manager of the National Treatment Quality Initiatives for the advocacy group Shatterproof.”

Follow The Evidence to Treat Opioid Addiction, STAT

“Unfortunately, for decades we’ve largely avoided the science of addiction and its treatment and stigmatized the use of these medications. Today, only a small fraction of programs offer all three medications. Among those that do, unnecessary barriers are often put in place to limit access to care.

Far too many people we know, like Gary’s son, Brian, experienced this firsthand. He attended eight different addiction treatment programs. Only one of them offered effective medication treatment and a subsequent program stopped the medication. Six months later, Brian took his life, writing in a note about his anger with the treatment industry.

Imagine if we treated any other illness the way we treat addiction. If Brian had cancer and his effective chemotherapy was suddenly stopped, resulting in death, it would be medical malpractice. Instead, this is the scary reality that patients with addiction face daily.”

Chinese Labs Use Mail to Send Opioid Fentanyl into US, Senate Report Finds, The Guardian

“Illegal shipments of the powerful and addictive opioid fentanyl are pouring into the United States by mail from China and the US Postal Service must step up the use of hi-tech detection methods to fight the problem, according to a congressional report unveiled on Wednesday.

“A year-long investigation by a Senate homeland security and government affairs investigations subcommittee found there is easy access for buyers in the United States to purchase fentanyl, often in relatively large quantities, through the internet.

The drugs are mailed by ‘labs’ in China to individuals who consume them or to middlemen who dilute them for resale.”

Opioid Commission Member: Our Work Is A 'Sham', CNN

“The Republican-led Congress has turned the work of the president's opioid commission into a "charade" and a ‘sham,’ a member of the panel told CNN.

‘Everyone is willing to tolerate the intolerable -- and not do anything about it,’ said former Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who was one of six members appointed to the bipartisan commission in March. ‘I'm as cynical as I've ever been about this stuff.’

President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a 90-day public health emergency in October, but did not make any new funding available. In November the president said he would donate his third quarter salary to the Department of Health and Human Services to help fight the crisis.”

I Nearly Died of a Drug Overdose. Would That Make My Dealer a Murderer? Politico Magazine

“There is no comprehensive data that compile all drug-induced homicide charges and convictions, but a recent report by The Drug Policy Alliance measured media mentions of cases and found that news stories on the topic of drug-induced homicide jumped from 363 in 2011 to 1,178 in 2016. This is partly a reflection of the new laws that have been added in some states, but also an indication that states which already had them on the books have renewed interest in pursuing these difficult-to-prosecute laws. With few exceptions, these stories tend to report the allegations and charges, but press stories do not often follow low-level dealers through their cases—to say nothing about broader stories about whether the laws are having any impact on the opioid crisis. So while they may give the appearance that policymakers are springing into action on the overdose crisis, we don’t actually have any idea how effective they’ve been.”

Don’t Call Her a Victim: After Surviving Opioids, Nan Goldin Goes After the Makers, The New York Times

“Now she has been [in recovery] for a year. Ms. Goldin is still feeling her way back into a world filled with ghostly reminders of addiction, but she decided that she was strong enough for a new battle. That began recently when, in her most personal project yet, she publicly confronted OxyContin’s manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, and that company’s longtime owners, who are also prominent art patrons: the descendants of Mortimer and Raymond Sackler, two of three physician brothers who built Purdue Pharma into a pharmaceutical behemoth.”