This Week's News in Substance Use: 5/5/17

'Gray Death' Is The Latest Opioid Street Mix Causing Worry, Associated Press

"Investigators who nicknamed the street mixture have detected it or recorded overdoses blamed on it in Alabama, Georgia and Ohio. The drug looks like concrete mix and varies in consistency from a hard, chunky material to a fine powder.

The substance is a combination of several opioids blamed for thousands of fatal overdoses nationally, including heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil — sometimes used to tranquilize large animals like elephants — and a synthetic opioid called U-47700.

'Gray death is one of the scariest combinations that I have ever seen in nearly 20 years of forensic chemistry drug analysis' Deneen Kilcrease, manager of the chemistry section at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said."

How Virginia Dramatically Expanded Treatment Options for Addiction (And Skirted Federal Law), STAT News

"A few months ago, if you lived in Virginia, relied on Medicaid, and were seeking a residential treatment program for substance abuse, you had few to choose from. To be precise, you had four.

Today, you would have 71.

That increase was made possible in part by a new type of “waiver” from federal rules that has dramatically expanded treatment options for Medicaid beneficiaries here. It has also shed light on the ways in which, in much of the country, the program has limited opportunities for many people seeking help overcoming addictions."

Opioids Creating a Generation of American Orphans, NBC2

"Experts point to the heroin and opioid epidemic over the last decade for the rising number of children orphaned and/or essentially abandoned by their parents.

Across America, 2.7 million grandparents and other relatives are raising grandchildren. Another 430,000 are in foster care according to the 2015 Census. Exact figures correlating the rise in heroin use with the increase in children being cared for by someone other than a parent are hard to pin down. Anecdotally, however, school administrators in Kentucky say they have seen more and more grandparents or other relatives seeking social services and counseling for children whose parents can no longer care for them as a direct result of heroin or opioid addiction."

Lawmakers Consider ‘Medical Amnesty’ Bill for Drug Users Who Report Overdoses, Portland Press Herald

"Brianna Nielsen doesn’t regret calling for help when a fellow drug user overdosed in front of her last year, knowing now that her quick action saved his life.

But the decision also landed her in jail and further complicated an already difficult climb back to sobriety and regaining custody of her young son."

Overcoming Opioids: When Pills Are a Hospital’s Last Resort, The Washington Post

"The nation’s opioid crisis is forcing hospitals to begin rolling out non-addictive alternatives to treatments that have long been the mainstay for the severe pain of trauma and surgery, so they don’t save patients’ lives or limbs only to have them fall under the grip of addiction."

Stopping Teenage Substance Use Before It Starts, Philly.com

"DARE has come a long way from the 1980s and '90s, when it smacked of Nancy Reagan’s 'Just Say No' campaign, which was widely derided as being ineffective. Now, based partly on Pennsylvania State University research, the elementary and middle school curriculum uses “keepin’ It REAL,” interactive lessons that teach decision-making and other skills based on the four ways that teens turn down drugs: Refuse, Explain, Avoid and Leave. "