News

29Aug 2017

An SUV crashed after all four occupants overdosed on heroin in North Carolina. The same day, a man in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, grabbed the steering wheel after his grandson lost consciousness while driving. Police in the city of 30,000 responded to 11 other overdose reports that day, including a woman who crashed her car just before a highway entrance.

The next day in Cleveland, a rescue squad found an unconscious 43-year-old man who had driven off the road and hit a pole. An overdose antidote brought him back around, police say. He was seriously hurt from the crash and was cited for driving under the influence.

Car crashes caused by overdosing drivers are becoming so commonplace, authorities say, that some rescue crews immediately administer the antidote, naloxone, to any unresponsive driver they find at an accident scene.

People who use heroin and related drugs are sometimes so eager to get high, or so sick from withdrawal, that they’ll shoot up in the car as soon as they get their hands on more, police say. Often they’re back on the road before the overdose takes hold, and they lose consciousness, a recipe for traffic accidents.

“There’s no waiting period like we used to see with other drugs where you go buy it, then go home and get high, or go to a party and get high,” said Scott Houston, a major with the sheriff’s office in Pamlico County, North Carolina, where the SUV crashed June 29. “We don’t see that anymore.”

Police in New Hampshire charged a man with driving under the influence June 7 after he allegedly shot up heroin before crashing into a parked tractor-trailer in Manchester.

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17Aug 2017

Drug overdose deaths continue to climb in the United States, despite efforts to combat the nation’s ongoing opioid addiction crisis, a new federal report states.

The drug overdose death rate reached 19.9 cases for every 100,000 people during the late summer of 2016, compared with 16.7 cases per 100,000 the year before, the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) stated in its quarterly mortality report.

The 12-month overdose death rate also showed an increase. The rate was 18.5 overdose deaths per 100,000 people for the 12-month period ending in September 2016, compared with 16.1 deaths per 100,000 during the same period a year before, the NCHS said.

The increase shows that drug deaths have continued to rise from 2015, which itself had been a record-breaking year for overdose deaths.

A total 52,404 people died from overdose in 2015, a 75 percent increase from the 29,813 overdose deaths in 2005, the NCHS reported.

About 33,091 of overdose deaths in 2015 involved opioids. Prescription or synthetic opioid pain relievers — like Percocet, OxyContin and fentanyl — were implicated in more than two-thirds of opioid-related overdose deaths, the agency said.

On the same day the NCHS statistics were released, President Donald Trump said he would receive a “major briefing” on the opioid crisis with top administration officials Tuesday afternoon at his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

Trump said he would be joined at the 3 p.m. ET meeting by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and acting Director of National Drug Control Policy Richard Baum, according to published reports.

The president is still reviewing a preliminary report on the opioid crisis from the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which he established in March, a White House spokesman told the Washington Post.

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21Jul 2017

A Macomb County factory owner sees a chance to increase production at his metal-stamping plant. He puts out a call for job applicants and dozens respond.

About half are rejected. Why? They cannot pass a basic pre-employment drug test.

A major manufacturing facility in Detroit furloughs workers during a downturn. When 100 of the workers are called back several months later, every last one of them fails the company’s drug screening, mostly for marijuana.

In Traverse City, an addiction treatment center surveys 30 companies across the region and finds only 1-in-4 conduct drug tests. The reason: They fear the results would require them to reject or fire the workers they desperately need.

“More often than not, we are finding that employers are not testing because of that problem,” said Chris Hindbaugh, executive director of Addiction Treatment Services. “They’d rather not know. And that’s dangerous.”

Across Michigan, employers say they can’t fill job openings because too many people can’t pass a drug test. Shortages are particularly acute in manufacturing, construction,  warehousing or shipping companies, which routinely impose pre-employment drug screening for workers who operate heavy machinery or heavy-haul trucks.

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17Jul 2017

One month after the FDA asked it to remove an opioid from the market, pharmaceutical maker Endo has announced it will pull the drug.

The company said in a statement posted on its website it still believes in the efficacy and safety of Opana ER, or oxymorphone hydrochloride.
The FDA said the request was the first time it had asked that an opioid pain medication be pulled because of “the public health consequences of abuse.”
Opana ER is a powerful painkiller, about twice as powerful as OxyContin, another often abused opioid.
Endo said it had worked for years to “combat misuse and abuse.” The drug was approved in 2006 and was intended to be used to manage moderate to severe pain over a long period with just one pill.
But addicts crushed it to get a massive high all at once
So, the company made the tablets with a coating that made them hard to crush. It also changed the formula in 2012.
The FDA said post-market data suggested that after the company reformulated the medication, people were injecting it more than they were snorting it.
10Jul 2017

Potheads everywhere use today, as an informal celebration of what it means to smoke, eat and vape marijuana.

Again, like every year, people will honor the day by smoking lots and lots of weed. Meanwhile, marijuana still toes the line between recreational drug and medicine, while the federal government deems it illegal without any health benefit.

The truth is, doctors and addiction experts have only had a whiff of evidence on marijuana’s effects, positive or negative. Medicinally, marijuana can treat chronic pain, nausea and the effects of multiple sclerosis. However, experts are likely to tell you it’s too early to define marijuana’s effect without more testing.

In the meantime, people continue to use the drug recreationally and medicinally. Here’s what experts say happens when you smoke weed every day:

Dr. Stuart Gitlow, a professor at the University of Florida and a past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, said marijuana is much stronger than it was years ago, giving a more psychedelic feel rather than a mild sense of intoxication.

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07Jul 2017

The number of youngsters binge drinking across the U.S. has dropped dramatically, according to new research.

Figures from a national survey on drug use by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) show a significant fall in the number of young drinkers taking part in booze binge sessions since 2010.

Between 2010-2012 nearly 16 percent of all 12- to 20-year-olds nationwide engaged in binge drinking — defined in the study as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks on a single occasion in the last 30 days. But that number has now dropped to 14.4 percent, according to statistics collected from 2012 to 2014.

The report still points to 5.5 million underage drinkers taking part in alcohol binges across the U.S., but the drop shows that there are now half a million fewer adolescents drinking to a dangerous excess.

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27Jun 2017

Legalizing recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Oregon and Washington has resulted in collision claim frequencies that are about 3% higher overall than would have been expected without legalization, according to a new analysis from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).

HLDI, part of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), reported in a statement on Thursday that it conducted a combined analysis using neighbouring states as additional controls to examine the collision claims experience of Colorado, Oregon and Washington before and after law changes. Control states included Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, plus Colorado, Oregon and Washington prior to legalization of recreational use, the statement said. During the study period, Nevada and Montana permitted medical use of marijuana, Wyoming and Utah allowed only limited use for medical purposes, and Idaho didn’t permit any use. Oregon and Washington authorized medical marijuana use in 1998, and Colorado authorized it in 2000.

HLDI also looked at loss results for each state individually compared with loss results for adjacent states without legalized recreational marijuana use prior to November 2016.

Data spanned collision claims filed between January 2012 and October 2016 for 1981 to 2017 model vehicles. Analysts controlled for differences in the rated driver population, insured vehicle fleet, the mix of urban versus rural exposure, unemployment, weather and seasonality.

HLDI noted that that collision claims are the most frequent kind of claims insurers receive. Collision coverage insures against physical damage to a driver’s vehicle in a crash with an object or other vehicle, generally when the driver is at fault. Collision claim frequency is the number of collision claims divided by the number of insured vehicle years (one vehicle insured for one year or two vehicles insured for six months each).

“The combined-state analysis shows that the first three states to legalize recreational marijuana have experienced more crashes,” said Matt Moore, senior vice president of HLDI, in the statement. “The individual state analyses suggest that the size of the effect varies by state.”

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23Jun 2017

Beginning in October when the 2017-18 season starts, the PGA Tour will begin blood testing as part of its revised anti-doping program.

The Tour also is updating its list of banned substances to include those currently forbidden by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Further, any suspensions of players abusing any banned substance will be announced publicly for the first time.

“We believe that these changes to our program are prudent in that they further our objectives of protecting the well-being of our members and better substantiate the integrity of golf as a clean sport,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement released Tuesday.

Kevin Kisner, who won the Dean & DeLuca Invitational at Colonial in May, said it was inevitable that the Tour, which began drug testing in 2008, added blood testing.

“If we’re going to test, we might as well do it the most efficient way. And if urine can’t detect for all the drugs they want to test for, and blood is another option, we should do it,” Kisner said Tuesday. “I don’t think anyone will be thrilled about giving blood during golf tournaments. Hopefully it will be done earlier in the week. Testing becomes annoying when you play late on Thursday and early Friday, and you’re out there late knowing you have to get up early.”

Similar to how tests are administered in the Olympics, blood will be drawn from a player’s arm. Urine testing will still account for the vast majority of tests administered by the Tour, and while urine testing can detect most banned substances, it cannot detect human growth hormone.

“If you’re going to do drug testing out here you might as well do drug testing for everything and the big elephant in the room the past few years has been HGH,” eight-time Tour winner Brandt Snedeker said.

Snedeker has long been against drug testing, saying it’s a waste of time, money and energy in a game built on honor and integrity. But he understands golf’s return to the Olympics necessitated the action.

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22Jun 2017

Tiger Woods is receiving help to manage his medications.

“I’m currently receiving professional help to manage my medications and the ways that I deal with back pain and a sleep disorder,” Woods said in a statement on Monday night. He underwent back surgery in April.

“I want to thank everyone for the amazing outpouring of support and understanding especially the fans and players on tour.”

Woods was charged with driving under the influence after police in Jupiter, Florida, found him asleep at the wheel of his Mercedes-Benz about 2 a.m. May 29. Breath tests showed no presence of alcohol, but Woods told officers he had a reaction to several prescription drugs, including Vicodin and Xanax. His arraignment has been delayed until Aug. 9.

Woods could qualify for a diversion program in which the DUI charge is downgraded to reckless driving, which results in probation, fine and other conditions such as taking a DUI course.

Last week, reports said Woods was entering a rehab program near his home in Jupiter, Florida. He previously sought treatment for sex addiction in 2009 and an addiction to prescription drugs in 2010.

21Jun 2017

 

More than 400 Ontarians died from an opioid overdose in just the first six months of last year, a grim statistic that was revealed as the provincial government launched an online tracker to monitor the drug’s impact across the province.

“The opioid crisis in Ontario is a growing and evolving problem, and one we are continuing to work diligently to combat,” said a joint statement from Health Minister Eric Hoskins, Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams and Chief Coroner Dirk Huyer, all of whom are doctors.

Having access to data on the opioid situation is a part of the provincial strategy to fight addiction and overdose deaths and the numbers show that “the opioid problem is affecting people of all ages, right across Ontario,” they also said.

In 2015, some 371 people died of an opioid overdose in the first six months of the year, and 412 during the same time period in 2016, which represents an 11 per cent increase.

The province’s new “opioid tracker” has more 13 years’ worth of statistics, listing cases that required medical care, hospitalization or resulted in death, and is meant primarily for health-care workers but is also accessible to the public.

Opioids are painkilling drugs that can be illegal — such as heroin — or prescribed, including morphine and oxycodone. Prolonged or regular use can lead to addiction.

The provincial government has previously announced opioid-fighting strategies including free naxolone, supervised injection sites and better supports for addicts.

Naxolone, or Narcan, is a life-saving drug that can be given to combat an opioid overdose. It can be taken via injection or nasal spray, and works almost immediately.

In all of 2015, more than 700 Ontarians died from using opioids, a number that has increased 94 per cent since 2003.

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