Monday, August 5, 2013

USA Today's Article "OxyContin: A Gateway to Heroin for Upper-Income Addicts"

Heroin seizures by authorities throughout the Northeast have been running at nearly twice the U.S. average for the past five years and it is projected to spike sharply, according to data collected by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

According to USA Today’s article, “OxyContin: A Gateway to Heroin for Upper-Income Addicts,” part of the reasoning sited for the increasing heroin usage is the fact that powerful prescription painkillers have become pricier and harder to use. So addicts across the USA are turning to this more volatile drug. The new twist: heroin is no longer just an inner-city plague.

America arrived at this moment after a decades-long increase in the number of people using, and abusing, powerful pain pills. The narcotics had become easier to obtain — some pain clinics issued prescriptions by the thousands — and many found a quick path to the black market.

To stem the abuses, authorities over the past decade began cracking down on clinics, and drug companies began creating pill formulations that made them harder to crush and snort for a quick high. Thus, opiate addicts have found it more difficult, and expensive, to get their fix.

Additionally, the price is much higher for OxyContin. An 80 mg OxyContin can cost $60 to $100 a pill. In contrast, heroin costs about $45 to $60 for a multiple-dose supply.

In Delaware, heroin investigations have soared over the past two years, says Sgt. Paul Shavack. In 2011, Delaware State Police conducted 578 heroin investigations, which more than doubled in 2012 to 1,163. In 2013, heroin continues to be the top street drug, due to its inexpensive cost and easy availability.

To read the USA Today article and watch the video, click here.

Protect Yourself During this Bug Season

August is slated as the worst month for bug season this year. Not only are insects annoying, they can carry diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease.  A report released last month by the Environmental Working Group, finds that no one bug repellent works against every insect, but your best bets are those products made with active ingredients registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus and DEET.

Despite DEET's reputation as a harmful substance, the EWG researchers found it to be one of the most effective chemicals against the risks of West Nile virus and Lyme disease.  The West Nile virus, which is carried by mosquitoes, infected more than 5,600 Americans last year, and 286 people died from the virus, according to the CDC, showing the importance of protecting yourself and staying safe.

In addition to applying insect repellent, other tips to stay safe this month include:
  • Avoid outdoor activities around dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long-sleeve shirts and pants when outdoors.
  • Keep tight-fitting screens on doors and windows to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Eliminate all sources of standing water around their homes and properly maintain ornamental ponds, pools and spas.

Warning: Fentanyl Laced Heroin

In July, SAMHSA released an urgent warning for Physicians and Treatment Providers to be aware of the new risk of illicit fentanyl-laced heroin and cocaine on the drug market.

Recently, small clusters of overdoses and overdose fatalities in a variety of communities, mostly in the eastern United States have raised alarms.  

Some of the dangers of Fentanyl are:
·         Fentanyl amplifies the potency of heroin and cocaine, and even a small amount can result in overdose or death.
·         The appearance of fentanyl analogues occurs against the backdrop of increasing overdose fatalities due to high rates of opioid prescribing and misuse, as well as individuals transitioning to heroin as prescription-pharmaceuticals becomes more restricted. Whether the fentanyl analogues persist and spread or not, the situation with regard to opioid overdose and fatalities is desperate.  
·         The CDC Vital Signs released a July 2013 report that noted that although more men die from prescription painkiller overdoses nationally, the gap between men and women is closing. The number of prescription painkiller overdose deaths increased fivefold among women between 1999 and 2010.