Category : Drugs/Drug Addiction

(NYT) Meth, the Forgotten Killer, Is Back. And It’s Everywhere.

They huddled against the biting wind, pacing from one corner to another hoping to score heroin or pills. But a different drug was far more likely to be on offer outside the train station downtown, where homeless drug users live in tents pitched on the sidewalk.

“Everybody has meth around here — everybody,” said Sean, a 27-year-old heroin user who hangs out downtown and gave only his first name. “It’s the easiest to find.”

The scourge of crystal meth, with its exploding labs and ruinous effect on teeth and skin, has been all but forgotten amid national concern over the opioid crisis. But 12 years after Congress took aggressive action to curtail it, meth has returned with a vengeance. Here in Oregon, meth-related deaths vastly outnumber those from heroin. At the United States border, agents are seizing 10 to 20 times the amounts they did a decade ago. Methamphetamine, experts say, has never been purer, cheaper or more lethal.

Oregon took a hard line against meth in 2006, when it began requiring a doctor’s prescription to buy the nasal decongestant used to make it. “It was like someone turned off a switch,” said J.R. Ujifusa, a senior prosecutor in Multnomah County, which includes Portland.

“But where there is a void,” he added, “someone fills it.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(CNBC) The Economic cost of the opioid crisis: $1 trillion and growing faster.

The economic cost of the growing opioid epidemic topped an estimated $1 trillion from 2001 through 2017, according to an analysis released Tuesday.

And the opioid crisis is projected to cost the United States an extra $500 billion through 2020 unless sustained action is taken to stem the tide, the report from health research and consulting institute Altarum said.

That’s because in recent years the growth rate in the economic fallout from the epidemic has sharply accelerated, along with the number of overdose deaths related to prescription painkillers and heroin.

Altarum said “the greatest cost” identified in its analysis “comes from lost earnings and productivity from overdose deaths — estimated at $800,000 per person based on an average age of 41 among overdose victims.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine

(Times Picayune) Ted Jackson offers a stunning portrait of a former NFL star who played in 2 Super Bowls–The search for Jackie Wallace

One foot in front of the other, the hulking old man trudged up the ramp to the Pontchartrain Expressway. A cold wind stiffened his face, so he bundled tighter and kept walking. His decision was made. A life full of accolades and praise meant nothing to him now. A man who was once the pride of his New Orleans hometown, his St. Augustine alma mater and his 7th Ward family and friends was undone. He was on his way to die.

The man was tired. In his 63 years, he had run with the gods and slept with the devil. Living low and getting high had become as routine as taking a breath. A hideous disease was eating his insides. He was an alcoholic, and he also craved crack cocaine. He was tired of fighting. He was tired of playing the game.

He crossed the last exit ramp and continued walking the pavement toward the top of the bridge. He dodged cars as they took the ramp. No one seemed to notice the ragged man walking to his suicide. If they did notice, they didn’t stop to help.

Only a half-mile more and it would all be over. One hundred and 50 feet below, the powerful currents of the Mississippi River would swallow his soul and his wretched life. He dodged another car. But why did it matter? Getting hit by a car would serve his purposes just as well as jumping.

How did it come to this? This was long after Jackie had turned his life around, or so we both thought….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Sports, Theology

Drug firms shipped 20.8M pain pills to West Virginia town with 2,900 people

Over the past decade, out-of-state drug companies shipped 20.8 million prescription painkillers to two pharmacies four blocks apart in a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people, according to a congressional committee investigating the opioid crisis.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee cited the massive shipments of hydrocodone and oxycodone — two powerful painkillers — to the town of Williamson, in Mingo County, amid the panel’s inquiry into the role of drug distributors in the opioid epidemic.

“These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed across West Virginia,” said committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., in a joint statement.

Read it all.

Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

A NYT profile of Prescott, Arizone, a City of Addict Entrepreneurs

It first dawned on Erin Burk that her town had become a haven for drug treatment soon after she noticed the fleet of white vans zooming through her neighborhood. The vans, she learned after tailing one, were ferrying addicts all over town to what amounted to halfway houses for those in recovery: sober living homes.

Nobody she asked seemed to know how many sober living homes were located in Prescott, so she decided to conduct an improvised census.

“I followed those vans around for three months,” said Ms. Burk, a young mother of five whose sleuthing identified dozens of sober living homes in her city — including 15 within a block of her house. “Then I cried for a long time.”

That was in 2010, the beginning of a boom here in the addiction treatment business that turned this city of just 42,500 people into one of the rehab capitals of the country. Today there are some 33 sober living homes in operation, down from a peak last year of 170. At the time, by some estimates, one in 30 people living in Prescott was in recovery.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(NPR) The Foster Care System Is Flooded With Children Of The Opioid Epidemic

The U.S. foster care system is overwhelmed in part because America’s opioid crisis is overwhelming. Thousands of children have had to be taken out of the care of parents or a parent who is an addict. One of the states with the biggest one-year increase in the number of children who need foster care is Indiana. Judge Marilyn Moores heads up the Indianapolis juvenile court and joins us now from member station WFYI. Your Honor, thanks very much for being with us.

MARILYN MOORES: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: You’ve called this a tsunami. What’s happening, from where you see it?

MOORES: Well, we’ve gone from having 2,500 children in care three years ago having 5,500 kids in care. It has just exploded our systems.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Drugs/Drug Addiction

(WSJ) Chasing a new type of Buzz–Big Brewer Makes a Play for Marijuana Beverages

The U.S. distributor of Corona beer is chasing a new type of buzz.

Constellation Brands Inc. has agreed to take a 9.9% stake in Canopy Growth Corp. , a Canadian marijuana company, and plans to work with the grower to develop and market cannabis-infused beverages.

Canopy Growth is the world’s largest publicly traded cannabis company, with a market valuation of 2.2 billion Canadian dollars on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The C$245 million (US$191 million) deal gives Constellation a toehold in an industry that the brewer expects to be legalized nationwide in the U.S. in the coming years.

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Posted in Alcohol/Drinking, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Canada, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Theology

(NYT) As Overdose Deaths Pile Up, a New Hampshire Medical Examiner Quits the Morgue

In the state morgue here, in the industrial maze of a hospital basement, Dr. Thomas A. Andrew was slicing through the lung of a 36-year-old woman when white foam seeped out onto the autopsy table.

Foam in the lungs is a sign of acute intoxication caused by an opioid. So is a swollen brain, which she also had. But Dr. Andrew, the chief medical examiner of New Hampshire, would not be certain of the cause of death until he could rule out other causes, like a brain aneurysm or foul play, and until after the woman’s blood tests had come back.

With the nation snared in what the government says is the worst drug epidemic in its history, routine autopsies like this one, which take more than two hours, are overtaxing medical examiners everywhere.

“It’s almost as if the Visigoths are at the gates, and the gates are starting to crumble,” Dr. Andrew said. “I’m not an alarmist by nature, but this is not overhyped. It has completely overwhelmed us.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Methodist

([London] Times) Melanie Phillips–Our Thinking is warped on Cannabis Legalisation

At the Labour Party conference yesterday the comedian Russell Brand called for drugs to be decriminalised. At next week’s Conservative conference, the free-market Adam Smith Institute will be pushing for the legalisation of cannabis. Legalisation means more users. That means more harm, not just to individuals but to society. The institute, however, describes cannabis as “a low-harm consumer product that most users enjoy without major problems”. What? A huge amount of evidence shows that far from cannabis being less harmful than other illicit drugs, as befits its Class B classification, its effects are far more devastating. Long-term potheads display on average an eight-point decline in IQ over time, an elevated risk of psychosis and permanent brain damage.

Cannabis is associated with a host of biological ill-effects including cirrhosis of the liver, strokes and heart attacks. People who use it are more likely than non-users to access other illegal drugs. And so on.

Ah, say the autonomy-loving free-marketeers, but it doesn’t harm anyone other than the user. Well, that’s not true either. It can destroy relationships with family, friends and employers. Users often display more antisocial behaviour, such as stealing money or lying to get a job, as well as a greater association with aggression, paranoia and violent death. According to Stuart Reece, an Australian professor of medicine, cannabis use in pregnancy has also been linked to an epidemic of gastroschisis, in which babies are born with intestines outside their abdomen, in at least 15 nations including the UK.

The legalisers’ argument is that keeping cannabis illegal does not control the harm it does. Yet wherever its supply has been liberalised, its use and therefore the harm it does have both gone up.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

(Time) The Affordable Care Act is being exploited to allow people to prey on Opiod addicts

As so often happens, a frantic mother called us about her 19-year-old daughter, who I’ll call Jen. A heroin addict, Jen had been shuttled between multiple treatment centers and sober homes by greedy marketers looking to cash in on the teenager’s insurance benefits by keeping her perpetually in recovery, but never sober. As our investigator searched Palm Beach County for Jen, her mother finally reached her by phone. She pleaded with her daughter to leave Florida, to which Jen replied, “Why would I come home? I have all I need here.” In the ensuing months, Jen has become a victim of a vicious cycle known as “the Florida shuffle.” She has continued in and out of treatment, repeatedly relapsed and overdosed, been on the brink of death, was revived and all the while trafficked by marketers offering free rent and other gifts — as she ignores her mother’s desperate pleas to come home.

Americans know of the carnage wrought by the opioid epidemic. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, opioids caused 91 deaths every day in 2015. Expect a significant increase when the 2016 medical examiner and coroner reports are released nationwide. In my jurisdiction alone, 596 people died from opioid-related deaths in 2016, an increase of 286% since 2012.

Less known, however, is that this growing epidemic has been fueled in part by the manipulation of well-intended federal laws — such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Mental Health Parity Act — by unscrupulous individuals looking to profit on the misery and vulnerability of others. Fueled by new financial benefits in federal law, private drug treatment providers have flourished, as marketers often push individuals with substance use disorder to the warm weather states of Florida, Arizona and California as recovery destinations. The unethical players within the recovery industry see the addict as a valuable commodity and have exploited federal law to foster a cycle of relapse, rather than recovery.

Today, big money in the drug treatment industry comes through failure. …

Read it all.

Posted in --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine

60 Minutes latest story on the opiod crisis–Heroin in the Heartland

Federal and local authorities nationwide now consider heroin to be the biggest drug epidemic in the country. Not methamphetamines or cocaine, heroin.

Dealers, connected to Mexican drug cartels, are making huge profits pushing their poison into suburbs and small towns across the country. It’s basic economics: the dealers are going where the money is. And they’re cultivating a broad set of consumers: high school students, college athletes, teachers and professionals.

Heroin is showing up everywhere — in places like Columbus Ohio. The area has long been viewed as so typically Middle American that, for years, many companies have gone there to test their new products. A few years ago when we started reporting this story we went to the Columbus suburbs to see how heroin is taking hold in the heartland….

Read or watch it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(Sunday [London] Times) ‘They’re here, then they just die’: opioid addiction kills 175 Americans a day

At first glance, Manchester, New Hampshire, seems a typical New England town. A pleasant, low-key sort of place, free of extreme poverty or urban decay.

You do not have to look far, however, to see something is amiss: this is a town firmly in the grip of the opioid crisis that is devastating America.

Dotted around the central squares and parks are small groups of people visibly suffering from addiction. Yesterday, hundreds of residents took part in a “rally for recovery” in the town centre, gathering to highlight the plight of their friends and neighbours.

On the walls of the Hope addiction recovery clinic, a few hundred yards away, are pictures from a kayaking expedition. Karla Gallagher, who works at the clinic, cannot look at it without becoming close to tears.

“We lose these people all the time,” she said, pointing to a picture of a smiling young girl on a canoe. “We lost her. One day they’re here and then they just die.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

(Washington Post Wonkblog) Christopher Ingraham–Here’s one marijuana trend you should actually be worried about

The latest federal survey data shows that while teen marijuana use continues to decline in the era of legal pot, adult use is rising. The percent of people over the age of 18 who smoke it in a given year has risen from 10.4 percent in 2002 to 14.1 percent in 2016. In other words, 46 million people got high last year.

In and of itself, the increase in adult marijuana use isn’t particularly alarming. Public-health researchers are typically more worried about adolescent drug use, which can derail a young person’s life. If more adults are smoking marijuana once or twice a year — even once or twice a month — it’s not really a huge concern.

More concerning, though, is the number of people who are getting high all the time — heavy users who smoke on a daily or near-daily basis. The federal data shows that those numbers are increasingly precipitously.

In 2016,  nearly 19 percent of people who used marijuana that year used it at least 300 days out of the year. That figure’s up by roughly 50 percent from 2002, when 12 percent of marijuana users consumed the drug daily or near-daily.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine

(WSJ) Opioid Epidemic May Be Keeping Prime-Age Americans Out of the Workforce

New research suggests a significant portion of the post-1990s decline in labor-force participation among Americans in their prime working years could be linked to the opioid epidemic.

Conducted by Princeton University economist Alan Kruegerthe study found that a national increase in opioid painkiller prescriptions between 1999 and 2015 may have accounted for about 20% of the decline in workforce participation among men ages 25 to 54, and roughly 25% of the drop in prime-age female workforce participation.

“The opioid epidemic and labor-force participation are now intertwined,” Mr. Krueger said. “If we are to bring a large number of people back into the labor force who have left the labor force, I think it’s important that we take serious steps to address the opioid crisis.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Young Adults

(ABC Nightline) One Nation, Overdosed: Snapshots of Americans struggling under the opioid crisis

In 2015, more than 33,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses, according to the CDC, which says preliminary data from 2016 suggests the total number of overdose deaths will increase.

Daniel Ciccarone, an associate editor for the International Journal of Drug Policy and professor at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, said the lag time of a year is an improvement from how data was collected a few years ago, but it’s still a problem for understanding the scope of the current epidemic.

“The numbers are extraordinary and it’s easy to get kind of numbed when you’re in that kind of event when you say, ‘well, this has had more deaths than the Vietnam War, this has had more deaths in a given year than HIV-AIDS,'” Ciccarone said. “We’re reached epidemic levels because this is of crisis proportions. It’s going to require a crisis response: resources, time, effort, humanity, compassion of a historic proportion.”

Read it all or you can watch the full video report here (just under 11 minutes).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family