Worrying statistics show just how hard the Midwest is being hit by the opioid epidemic

U.S. opioid epidemic cdc Drugs Updated | The true cost of the opioid epidemic gripping the U.S. has been laid bare in new statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There was a 70 percent rise in the number of overdose cases arriving at emergency departments in the Midwest during the 14 months to September 2017. Within the CDC's Midwest region are the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. A recent report by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute highlighted the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic on the region's construction industry. It said opioid overdoses killed almost 1,000 Midwest construction workers, costing the local economy $5 billion. Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now “What makes construction so vulnerable to this epidemic is the physical nature of the work,” said report author Jill Manzo. In the rush to get back to paying employment before injuries have fully healed, many workers are sucked into opioid abuse through pain relief—which can have fatal consequences. A used needle sits on the ground in a park in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on May 30, 2017, where individuals were arrested earlier in the day during raids to break up heroin and fentanyl drug rings in the region, according to law enforcement officials. REUTERS/Brian Snyder Across the whole of the U.S., CDC data shows there was a 30 percent rise in the number of emergency rooms treating patients for opioid overdoses. There was a 30 percent increase in the number of men overdosing and a 24 percent rise in women turning up for treatment. There was a 31 percent rise in the number of 24- to 35-year-olds overdosing, 36 percent increase in 35- to 54-year-olds and a 32 percent jump in those 55 and older. “People who have had an overdose are more likely to have Continue Reading

Colorado’s opioid epidemic explained in 10 graphics

Colorado’s opioid crisis is taking center stage at the state Capitol as policymakers look to curtail the drug abuse that is killing hundreds each year. The state’s problem is not the worst in the nation — actually the state ranks in the middle of the pack — but significant gaps in prevention and treatment for drug addiction remain, according to experts. Here’s a look at the opioid and heroin epidemic in Colorado in 10 graphics. The scope of the problem Colorado ranked 32nd in the nation in 2015 for its rate of total drug-overdose deaths, according to the latest federal data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and opioids are the most significant reason. Here’s a look at who’s dying from opioid-related overdoses in Colorado, which includes prescription opioids and other drugs, such as heroin and fentanyl. The data shows the issue is widespread across demographics in Colorado. One of the biggest increase in opioid deaths is related to heroin. Here’s a look at the spike in heroin overdoses in Colorado over the past decade. The most heroin deaths per capita occur in the southeastern corner of Colorado, as well as the populated areas in metro Denver, according to a map in a major report prepared by the state’s Department of Human Services. This is the age-adjusted opioid overdose death rate per 100,000 residents, 2013-2015 The gaps in opioid abuse treatment The four types of treatment and recovery services of opioid abuse are concentrated along Colorado’s Front Range — with some of the hardest-hit areas having few options. An analysis by the Keystone Policy Center shows the discrepancies in treatment options in the state. This map from the state’s human services department shows access to detox, residential treatment, outpatient services and methadone clinics in 2016. The most effective antidote to an opioid overdose is naloxone. The state is working to make it more widely Continue Reading

The untold story of how Utah doctors and Big Pharma helped drive the national opioid epidemic

1 of 12 View 12 Items Ravell Call Dr. Lynn Webster poses for a photo at PRA Health Sciences in Millcreek on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. With support from: About this project By Jesse Hyde with reporting from Daphne Chen   |  October 26, 2017 at 12:01 am MDT Editor's note: The illicit drug trade is undergoing a seismic shift, with Utah in the middle of the deadly impact of opioids. This is the fourth story in an ongoing series about this modern-day plague. Lynn Webster had long been fascinated by pain. As a boy growing up in Nebraska, he’d watch his grandmother spend the day looking out the window of their farmhouse, unable to move more than a few inches at a time because of advanced multiple sclerosis. When the pain got really bad, and his grandmother would writhe or scream out, pleading to God for relief, the young Webster would press her feet to the floor until the pain passed. It was a lesson he never forgot, taking it with him to his medical residency at the University of Utah, and within years it propelled him to the top of what appeared to be a remarkable new horizon in medicine: treating pain as a disease. “The same type of thing you would have with a music scene, where you would have a lot of people interested in the same thing, happened in Salt Lake with pain medicine,” said Sam Quinones, author of "Dreamland," a book that explores the roots of the opioid epidemic. “There was a lot of collaborating between doctors, sometimes competing. A lot of them understood that they were looking for new ways of alleviating pain. They became great proponents in the opioid scene.” No doctor in Salt Lake City had a bigger influence than Webster. He wrote numerous studies that touted the benefits of opioids, served as president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, and advanced the notion that addictive behaviors should be seen not as warnings, but as indications of untreated pain. He Continue Reading

Black Americans “whitewashed” from opioid epidemic despite increases in drug deaths, report finds

Black Americans are increasingly dying from drug deaths, yet reports reveal that whites are still the center of the conversation surrounding the opioid epidemic.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that drug deaths for black Americans sharply climbed in urban communities by 41 percent compared to whites at 19 percent in its first numbers illustrating the 2016 deaths along geographic and racial lines, according to The New York Times.The data released Thursday uncovered that drug deaths for black Americans between the ages of 45 and 64 are on the rise. Black Americans are now dying from drug deaths at a rate equal to white Americans in 2014. Keep up with this story and more The opioid issue has largely been viewed as a white epidemic because whites still make up a large portion of overdose deaths, but the new data suggest the drugs are increasingly infiltrating the black community, with opioids being tainted by the deadly drug fentanyl, which has caused thousands of deaths in the U.S.“Despite beating the odds for the past 40 to 50 years,” Andrew Kolodny, an expert on opioid-related deaths at Brandeis University, told the Times, “they’re dying because the heroin supply has never been so dangerous — increasingly it’s got fentanyl in it or it’s just fentanyl sold as heroin.”The Chicago Urban League released a report in November titled “Whitewashed: The African-American Opioid Epidemic,” which found that in 2016 the overdose death rate for black Americans doubled in Illinois.“Now that addressing the opioid epidemic as a public health issue has become a national priority, we must ensure that the approach applies equally to African Americans as to other communities and that new recourses are considered for those who have been disproportionately penalized by the so-called ‘War on Drugs,’” President and CEO Shari Runner said in a statement.Black Americans Continue Reading

Report: ‘Substantial’ hepatitis C infection increase tied to opioid epidemic

The United States' overall rate of hepatitis C infection more than doubled from 2004 to 2014 — and among people under 40, it increased by 300 to 400 percent.The reason for the jump? Transmission through injecting opioid drugs, said a report published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.Lead author Jon Zibbell, senior public health analyst in the Behavioral and Urban Health program of North Carolina-based RTI International, said public health officials have long presumed the link, but the research, performed in conjunction with a number of other agencies, provides data to back it up. Spread through reusing equipmentInjection drug use is now the most common risk factor for hepatitis C, itself the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States, and data indicates 28 percent of injectors are infected within a year. "Once the virus is introduced into a network of persons who inject drugs, it can circulate quickly through the reuse of contaminated drug injection equipment — specifically, needles, syringes, cookers and filers," the report said.Zibbell said that's accounted for hepatitis C outbreaks in various parts of the country — and public health experts expect more. Hep C part of opioid epidemic Zibbell, formerly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had previously studied the relationship between hepatitis C infection and drug injection in four states — Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky — and found a 200 to 300 percent increase in the number of infected people who'd injected drugs."At the time, hepatitis C wasn't being talked about as part of the opioid epidemic," Zibbell said, noting the absence of infectious disease in the president's report on opioid addiction. "It was really kind of a game changer."Expanding the study model to look at all 50 states, "what we found was, the same thing happened." Up to 400 percent increase among youngThe study looks at Continue Reading

Hepatitis C: The public-health worry lurking behind the opioid epidemic

Kristen Fischer had been addicted to meth for two years when she got her first taste of heroin at the age of 18.The majority of people she started hanging out with, she recently recalled, were also using, and "all pretty much had Hep C."Hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus that attacks the liver and causes inflammation, is so infectious it can spread through a few microscopic dots of blood. Intravenous drug users are among the most high-risk populations for infection because they share syringes, cookers, cotton, water, ties and alcohol swabs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Fischer, now 28, was aware of the dangers of sharing needles, and she took what she assumed were suitable precautions."I thought that if you just bleached the syringes that you were sharing, that would kill everything," Fischer said. "And then I found out later that was not true."In 2013, Fischer tested positive for hepatitis C — at the same time she learned she was pregnant.The good news: Fischer has now been clean for almost five years. Following the birth of her daughter, she received what she recalled as "brutal" hepatitis C treatment.But Fischer's experience is increasingly common, driven by the national opioid epidemic. The national hepatitis C transmission rate among IV-drug users increased by 350 percent from 2011 to 2014, the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show.The state Department of Health Services reports that opioid overdoses killed more than two Arizonans a day last year, with heroin causing almost half of those. Gov. Doug Ducey declared a public-health emergency June 5.But as the state ramps up efforts to prevent overdoses, blood-borne-disease transmission among intravenous drug users is often overlooked."In a lot of these larger conversations, it doesn’t come up, and if it does, it’s kind of an afterthought," Haley Coles, executive director of Sonoran Prevention Works, said.Sonoran Prevention Continue Reading

National opioid epidemic emergency declaration will save lives

The opioid epidemic is a national emergency that requires special attention and greater focus and resources to fight it.President Donald Trump's declaration of a public health emergency is welcome, needed and essential to save lives.Drug overdoses are the No. 1 killer of Americans: 142 people are dying in the U.S. every day. Tennessee has the second-highest rate of opioid prescriptions in the nation.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 33,000 people died from an overdose and 20,000 were dying from their addiction in 2015, according to the most recent CDC data.There are 22 drug overdose deaths for every 100,000 Tennesseans, and 6,036 overdose deaths have been recorded over a five-year period through 2015 in the state. The number has grown annually, and experts say there may be more than official reports state.Although Trump on Tuesday initially declined to declare a public health emergency, he wisely reconsidered on Thursday."The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I'm saying officially right now it is an emergency," he said. "It's a national emergency. We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis."That is encouraging and hopefully he will set aside the law-and-order approach he initially touted because it simply does not work. ► Read More: Opioid crisis 'knows no bounds,' says Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price ► Read More: Max Barry died from combination of several drugs, including two opioids, autopsy shows The USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee has learned through reporting, research and by hosting public forums on the opioid epidemic in Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville over the past year that health, community and law enforcement officials believe an education and treatment approach is superior.Congress affirmed this when it passed and President Barack Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) last summer Continue Reading

Study: Opioid epidemic increasingly reaching newborn babies

The surging opioid epidemic in the United States is increasingly affecting some of the country's most vulnerable citizens: newborn babies.A study released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on data in 28 states, reveals that babies born dependent on drugs increased 300% between 1999 and 2013. The babies, born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), experience withdrawal at birth. They often suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, feeding difficulties and sometimes respiratory distress.NAS is most often the result of opioid exposure, and the increase in NAS rates coincides with the ongoing heroin epidemic and the increase in the supply of prescription opioids. A CDC study released last month found that heroin addiction among women doubled from 2011 to 2014 compared with 2002 to 2004. Additionally, the CDC says the sale of prescription opioids nearly quadrupled between 1999 and 2014."NAS is an indicator of the nation's broader opioid epidemic," said Jean Ko, the lead author of the study. "It is a concerning condition and trend."To curb the problem, Ko said clinics should be stricter in handing out prescription opioids, which include painkillers such as oxycodone, morphine and methodone. They have high potential for addiction and are sometimes a gateway to heroin, which is an opioid.State-specific programs could also help solve the problem, Ko said.Four states — Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee — have made NAS a reportable condition to their respective state health departments. Such surveillance systems can help states monitor NAS and determine effective treatment for women and newborns, Ko said.In addition to withdrawal symptoms, babies affected by NAS are likely to suffer long-term cognitive disabilities such as attention-deficit disorder, said Dr. Suna Seo of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Seo, who specializes in neonatology, said concrete Continue Reading

Our View: What the opioid epidemic says about us

America is addicted and dying from drug overdoses. Arizona is anchored squarely in this dysfunctional new reality.There’s a lot of talk about who is to blame for the epidemic of opioid deaths.There’s a bigger need to ask how our culture enabled this crisis.Round up the usual suspects.Our pharmaceutical companies got us here.Our doctors got us here.Our desire to escape reality got us here.Let’s look at them one by one:Pharmaceutical companies made a lot of money selling opioid painkillers, and some say they did so without regard to the dangers.On May 31, Ohio filed suit against five pharmaceutical companies saying drug makers spent “millions of dollars on promotional activities and materials that falsely deny or trivialize the risks of opioids while overstating the benefits of using them for chronic pain.”A similar suit was filed in Mississippi in 2015, and other states, cities and counties have started litigation.Some people draw parallels with the lawsuits that states – including Arizona – pursued against the tobacco industry in the 1990s. Settlements totaled more than $200 billion nationwide.But unlike cigarettes, this situation has a middleman who facilitated the substance use.Too many doctors failed to look closely at the drugs they were prescribing.Before the spotlight was turned on this problem, it was not uncommon to hear stories of people returning home after surgery with enough oxycodone to chemically enslave or kill them. MY TURN: It'll take some pain (literally) to solve our opioid epidemic In 2015, more than 25,000 people nationwide overdosed on opioids like fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.In Arizona, last year, 790 people died from overdoses of prescription opioids and heroin, according to reporting by The Republic’s Ken Alltucker. That was a 74 percent increase since 2012.Deaths from heroin – the evil emperor of street drugs Continue Reading

Brick plans to sue drugmakers over opioid epidemic

BRICK - The township could soon join a growing number of state and local governments suing opioid manufacturers, claiming the companies misrepresented the dangers of their products.If approved by Township Council, the law firm Motley Rice LLC of Washington, D.C. will represent Brick in a lawsuit against drug makers, at no cost to the town. Instead, the firm will take a percentage of any settlement money the township may receive.Motley Rice is also representing Toms River in the lawsuit.The move follows a rising number of drug overdoses in Brick, from 69 in 2014 to 212 in 2016, Mayor John G. Ducey said in a news release. “While we will continue our efforts to attack the heroin problem through treatment and aggressive law enforcement, we also will hold the manufacturers accountable for telling doctors and patients that opioids are not addictive. They know that’s not true,"  Ducey said in the news release. Related:  Should NJ sue Big Pharma over the opioid epidemic? The Brick Township Council is expected to approve the agreement on Tuesday"The council joins the mayor in this effort against the opioid manufacturers," Council President Arthur Halloran said in the news release. "These drugs have unfortunately destroyed many lives across our nation and right here in Brick.” More: Brick toxic dry cleaner cleanup will last until 2022 Motley Rice, according to its website, has participated in such high-profile cases and negotiations as the BP Deepwater Horizon settlement for property damages and medical benefits, a $500 million decision for asbestos victims against Travelers Insurance Company, and has represented more than 6,600 Sept. 11 survivors and their families in court.Suing opioid manufacturers is part of a growing movement across the country.New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced Thursday that his office filed a four-count lawsuit Continue Reading