Cutting Off Veterans from Opioids

veteransThe prescription opioid epidemic has had a lasting effect on every demographic in America. Years of overprescribing and limited options for those who become addicted to drugs like OxyContin ® (oxycodone) and Vicodin ® (hydrocodone), have created a problem that no one has been able to control. Efforts to reduce addiction rates and overdose deaths have done some good, but at the same time, new policies have failed to address the underlying addiction.

One demographic that has been hit especially hard by the new policies is veterans. Measures made to reduce opioid painkiller prescriptions among veterans, in favor of alternative pain management, have left many struggling with chronic pain, The Star Tribune reports.

A Double Edged Sword

Over an 11-year period, the number of prescriptions for opioids prescribed by VA doctors increased dramatically. In fact, prescriptions for oxycodone and morphine jumped 259 percent nationwide by 2013. After more than a decade of war, almost 60 percent of veterans listed chronic pain as their most common medical problem, according to the article.

Prescription opioids, while addictive, are by far the most effective way to manage chronic pain. The problem starts when addiction sets in and the drugs are still required. The federal government’s mandate to reduce opioid prescription did manage to reduce the rates of addiction, the article reports. Unfortunately, many veterans were left to deal with pain on their own, a number of which sought out illicit methods to manage their pain.

No Offers Of Assistance

Individuals who use any narcotic, especially opioids, require detoxification and effective alternatives to the drugs they were using. Simply cutting off the supply may look good for reports, but fails to address the addiction that comes with years of use. Addicts who are cut off from their supply will seek other avenues to find what they need, unless an effective alternative is offered.

“There wasn’t a lot of discussion with the veteran except for the provider saying, ‘We’re not going to be doing this anymore because it’s not good for you,’ ” said Joy Ilem, of Disabled American Veterans, one of the nation’s largest veteran service groups.

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If you are or loved one is addicted to prescription opioids, please contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you learn how to live a life free of opioid addiction.

New Bills to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

opioidThe United States has been in the grips of prescription opioid crisis of epidemic proportions for over a decade. While state and federal governments have worked hard to address the problem which claims thousands of lives every year, there is no question that more can be done – especially now that heroin has sunk its hooks into addicts who struggle to get their hands on prescription narcotics.

The eastern states have been hit especially hard by prescription drug abuse, and the subsequent rise in heroin use. As a result, politicians from both parties in Massachusetts and Kentucky have come together to advance a number of bills to combat the crisis facing America, MassLive reports. The new legislative measures address:

  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)
  • Opioid Overdoses
  • FDA Accountability
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)

Protect Our Infants Act

NAS is a condition which can occur when newborns are exposed to opioids in utero. Babies born with the condition exhibit signs of withdrawal and require extra attention and extended stays in the hospital. The Protect Our Infants Act was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass. and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., according to the article.

Under the bill, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would be required to conduct research and coordinate efforts, helping state agencies collect data on NAS.

Opioid Overdose Reduction Act

Over the last few years, first responders have been granted greater access to the opioid overdose antidote drug naloxone. If administered in a timely manner, the drug has the power to reverse the life threatening effects of opioid overdoses. In some states and municipalities, addicts and their loved ones can acquire naloxone without a prescription.

The Opioid Overdose Reduction Act was brought forward by U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass. and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., the article reports. If passed, the bill would protect doctors, first responders, and others trained to administer naloxone from civil liability.

“No one should be afraid to save a life because of a lawsuit,” U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass. said in a statement.

FDA Accountability for Public Safety Act

In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the pure-hydrocodone drug Zohydro, despite an advisory panel voting against the approval. A number of lawmakers and experts in the field of addiction were outraged by the approval, believing the drug was counter public safety. The FDA Accountability for Public Safety Act seeks to limit the FDA’s ability to approve opioid drugs against the recommendations of experts on advisory committees, according to the article.

National All-Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) Reauthorization

In the fight against doctor shopping, PDMPs have proven vital for informing doctors when patients are receiving opioids from other physicians. However, many state programs, including Massachusetts, have been operating without funding. With bipartisan support, a bill has been put forward to reauthorize NASPER. If passed, it would provide states with the crucial funding needed to maintain, improve, and expand PDMPs.

This program “will empower states and advocates on the front lines of this crisis to build successful (prescription drug monitoring programs) that can communicate across state lines and help identify at-risk behavior—a key first step in fending off addiction before it starts,” said Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass.

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If you are struggling with prescription opioids or heroin abuse, please do not hesitate to contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help show you how to live a life free of opioid addiction.

DEA Crackdown On Prescription Opioid Narcotics

Operation-PillutedPeople in the United States consume the majority of prescription painkillers made worldwide, which has led to a prescription opioid epidemic. While efforts to curb the problem, such as prescription drug monitoring programs, have yielded some promising results, many addicts have turned to heroin, a cheaper and stronger alternative – creating a new problem. Nevertheless, the fight to end the prescription opioid crisis continues, and on Wednesday, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced the results of a four-state prescription drug crackdown, Reuters reports.

The DEAs “Operation Pilluted,” set its sights on the illegal distribution of prescription opioid narcotics. The operation yielded 280 arrests, including:

  • 22 Doctors and Pharmacists
  • $404,828 in Cash Seized
  • 202 Weapons
  • 51 Vehicles

“DEA is committed to reducing the destruction brought on by the trafficking and abuse of prescription drugs through aggressive criminal enforcement, robust administrative oversight, and strong relationships with other law enforcement agencies, the public, and the medical community,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Brown in a statement. “The doctors and pharmacists arrested in Operation Pilluted are nothing more than drug traffickers who prey on the addiction of others while abandoning the Hippocratic Oath adhered to faithfully by thousands of doctors and pharmacists each day across this country.”

Over the course of 15 months, agents involved in Operation Pilluted, observed and arrested people on federal and state criminal charges, according to the article. The operation was headed up by the DEA’s New Orleans Field Division, which resulted in the arrests of individuals in Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi.

The south, arguably, has been hit the hardest by the prescription drug epidemic. Federal and state officials have been working tirelessly over the last several years to implement prescription drug monitoring programs aimed at doctor shoppers, and to shut down pill mills which were flooding the streets with powerful narcotics. Prescription drug companies have been urged to create abuse-resistant pain medications, drugs that make it more difficult for abusers to tamper with the medications.

The DEA called Operation Pilluted its largest-ever prescription drug operation.

If you are struggling with prescription opioids do not hesitate to call for help.

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