September is National Recovery Month
Recovery is For Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community
Recovery Month is a national observance held every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life.
Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in recovery, just as we celebrate health improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. This observance reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.
There are millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery. Since these successes often go unnoticed by the broader population, Recovery Month provides a vehicle for everyone to celebrate these accomplishments.
The 2021 theme, “Recovery is For Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community,” reminds people in recovery and those who support them that no one is alone in the journey through recovery. Everyone's journey is different, but we are all in this together. Recovery Month will continue to educate others about substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders, the effectiveness of treatment and recovery services, and that recovery is possible. All of us, from celebrities and sports figures to our co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family members, throughout our lives have experienced peaks and valleys, both big and small. But with strength, support, and hope from the people we love, we are resilient.
A Proclamation on Overdose Awareness Week, 2021
THE WHITE HOUSE
AUGUST 27, 2021
The overdose epidemic has taken a toll on far too many Americans and their loved ones. Addiction is a disease that touches families in every community, including my own. The epidemic is national, but the impact is personal. It is personal to the millions who confront substance use disorder every day, and to the families who have lost loved ones to an overdose. During Overdose Awareness Week, we recommit to taking bold actions to prevent overdoses and related deaths, and enhance our support for individuals with substance use disorders.
In recent years, we have seen synthetic opioids, such as illicitly manufactured fentanyl, drive many overdose deaths with cocaine- and methamphetamine-related deaths also increasing at alarming rates. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the overdose epidemic, as necessary pandemic restrictions made it harder for individuals with addiction to receive the treatment and support services they need. These factors contributed to the more than 93,000 drug overdose deaths in 2020. As a Nation, we need a strong response to America’s overdose epidemic and an investment in prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery services, as well as strategies to reduce the supply of illicit drugs.
Settlement Reached in Opioid Suit as Negotiations Continue in CA
California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a historic $26 billion settlement that will help bring desperately needed relief to people in California and across the country who are struggling with opioid addiction. The settlement includes Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – and Johnson & Johnson, a company that manufactured and marketed opioids. Read CSAC’s full response to the announcement here.
“These critical settlement funds are desperately needed to help California’s local communities heal from the severe devastation caused by opioids,” said Graham Knaus, Executive Director of the California State Association of Counties. “We are optimistic and confident that the Attorney General’s Office will negotiate and reach an agreement that provides funding and resources for counties and local communities to address this crisis.”
Upon the news of this national settlement, California’s Counties renew their ongoing commitment to working with the California Attorney General to reach an intrastate allocation agreement. Without such an agreement, counties cannot access funds from this national settlement, even though they are tasked with providing substance use disorder and prevention services on behalf of the state. California’s cities and counties have been in negotiations with the Attorney General’s office since last year, including thwarting legislative efforts to cut local governments out of the national settlement negotiations.
COAST Newsletter - July 2021
Every quarter we send out COAST Newsletters to keep you informed about our COAST grant efforts to address the Opioid crisis in Ventura County. Through the COAST grant, Ventura County agencies are working together to reduce illicit opioid supply, decrease opioid demand, and save lives. By sharing and comparing data, we can leverage information, analyze trends, and target resources to respond to this evolving public health crisis. See the July 2021 Newsletter and learn about recent efforts being made by our team.
In the News: Drug overdose deaths soared to a record 93,000 last year
The Washington Post, July 14, 2021
Deaths from drug overdoses soared to more than 93,000 last year, a staggering record that reflects the coronavirus pandemic’s toll on efforts to quell the crisis and the continued spread of the synthetic opioid fentanyl in the illegal narcotic supply, the government reported Wednesday.
The death toll jumped by more than 21,000, or nearly 30 percent, from 2019, according to provisional data released by the National Center for Health Statistics, eclipsing the record set that year.
- Opioids, primarily illegal fentanyl, continued to drive the death toll, as they have for years. Overdose deaths involving opioids reached 69,710 in 2020, up from 50,963 in 2019, according to the data. Deaths from methamphetamine and cocaine also rose.
- Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in an interview that fentanyl has so thoroughly infiltrated the illegal drug supply that 70 percent of cocaine overdose deaths and 50 percent of methamphetamine overdose deaths also involved fentanyl
- In many cases, she said, users are unaware that their drugs are laced with the powerful painkiller, which can halt breathing even if a minute amount is ingested. In others, users knowingly take multiple drugs. “Most of the deaths are from multiple drugs,” she said.
Drug overdose deaths soared to a record 93,000 last year, The Washington Post, July 14, 2021
Drug overdose deaths in 2020 hit highest number ever recorded, CDC data shows, CNN, July 14, 2021
Spotlight: New Partners in Opioid Overdose Prevention
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
By Kirsti V. Thompson, Director, Give an Hour California
We have all heard the saying “It takes a village." Our story is “It takes a transportation center.” Our new "village" is serving the needs of the Oxnard Transit Center and the surrounding community.
In early 2020, VCBH was contacted by Gold Coast Transportation Services. They shared that a team of bus operators who work in the Oxnard area had concerns about drug use paraphernalia left behind at the Oxnard Transit Center, which is located in downtown Oxnard and is the busiest transportation center in our region. They reached out for our help.
The Overdose Prevention Program was founded in 2014 and offers outreach, training, and access to Overdose Rescue Kits to those who qualify in Ventura County. Ashley Nettles, Program Manager of the Overdose Prevention Program offered training and overdose kits to the Gold Coast team. Since then, a collaborative work group was born! Members from Ventura County Public Health, Oxnard Police Department, VCBH, City of Oxnard, and Gold Coast Transit met virtually several times to identify the issues that were contributing to the problem and brainstorm ways to solve it.
One of the initial issues identified was ensuring that the resources that are available are promoted to those who may benefit from them. Instead of ignoring the problems with drug use and paraphernalia at the Transit Center, or simply calling the police, the collaborative recommended developing an outreach tool that highlights the local social services that could help. A bilingual resource card was developed.
The resource cards are on display at the Oxnard Transit Center and on the buses that travel through that area. Gold Coast drivers and managers have been trained in Opioid Overdose Response, and Opioid Overdose Rescue Kits are now kept on hand at the Transit Center and with Gold Coast Field Managers.
This a new project, and we recognize it is a relatively small step in the big world of substance abuse and homelessness in Ventura County. We also know that it takes true collaboration (a real village!) to get meaningful work accomplished, and we are thankful to all who worked on this initial village building, and will continue to work together to take steps together to address the big issues we face.
FDA Approves Higher Dosage of Naloxone Nasal Spray to Treat Opioid Overdose
FDA News Release, April 30, 2021
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today the approval of a higher dose naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray product to treat opioid overdose. The newly approved product delivers 8 milligrams (mg) of naloxone into the nasal cavity. The FDA had previously approved 2 mg and 4 mg naloxone nasal spray products.
Naloxone is a medicine that can be administered by individuals with or without medical training to help reduce opioid overdose deaths. If naloxone is administered quickly, it can counter the opioid overdose effects, usually within minutes. A higher dose of naloxone provides an additional option in the treatment of opioid overdoses.
“Today’s action meets another critical need in combatting opioid overdose,” said Patrizia Cavazzoni, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Addressing the opioid crisis is a top priority for the FDA, and we will continue our efforts to increase access to naloxone and place this important medicine in the hands of those who need it most.”
COAST Newsletter - April 2021
Every quarter we send out COAST Newsletters to keep you informed about our COAST grant efforts to address the Opioid crisis in Ventura County. Through the COAST grant, Ventura County agencies are working together to reduce illicit opioid supply, decrease opioid demand, and save lives. By sharing and comparing data, we can leverage information, analyze trends, and target resources to respond to this evolving public health crisis. See the April 2021 Newsletter and learn about recent efforts being made by our team.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day - April 24
April 24, 2021, 10am - 2pm
Ventura County is committed to preventing prescription drug misuse and abuse. One of the ways the county works to address the issue locally is by reducing access, especially to teens. The Ventura County Sheriff's Office in collaboration with Ventura County Behavioral Health established a countywide Rx disposal program that allows residents to safely dispose of unused, unwanted, or expired Rx medication via secure, confidential disposal bins. Over the last several years, this has expanded to other jurisdictions and retail pharmacies.
The DEA’s Take Back Day provides an opportunity to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths. It encourages people to dispose of prescription drugs while also educating the public about the potential for abuse of medications.
What You Can Do
- Commit to safely disposing of your prescription drugs
- Get the facts on Rx & OTC drug abuse
- Dispel the myth that Rx drugs are safe to abuse
- Know the signs and symptoms of drug use
- Monitor and secure all medications
Medication Disposal Drop-off Locations
DEA Take Back Day
News: Overdose Deaths in Ventura County spiked in 2020, Largely Due to fentanyl
Ventura County saw a spike in overdose deaths in 2020, driven largely by a powerful synthetic opioid, a new report shows. Fatal overdoses reached 217 in 2020, a jump of more than 45% compared to the prior year, according to an annual report from the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office. "A few years ago, when there were reports about fentanyl in other parts of the country, we weren't seeing that many deaths from it here in Ventura County," said Dr. Christopher Young, the county's chief medical examiner. “This is a dangerous drug that's in our community and causing these deaths," Young said.
Source: Ventura County Star
Special Report: 2020 Fatal Overdoses
- Total overdose deaths between 2019 and 2020 increased by 68 (45.6% increase). Compared to the previous year, accidental overdoses for 2020 increased by 75 while suicidal overdoses decreased by 5.
- Fentanyl and benzodiazepine deaths increased significantly in 2020 compared to 2019. Fentanyl contributed to 54 more deaths than the previous year. Benzodiazepines contributed to 34 more deaths than the previous year.
- The highest number of overdose deaths in 2020 were between ages 31 to 40 years (49 deaths) and of these deaths, 24 involved fentanyl.
- Overdose deaths in Ventura County spiked in 2020, largely due to fentanyl, Ventura County Star, March 3, 2021
- Special Report: 2020 Fatal Overdoses, County of Ventura, Medical Examiner’s Office
- Opioid Data Dashboard, COAST Ventura County
Interview with Brad Friday, COAST Grant
Today we are talking with Brad Friday, Implementation Coordinator for the County Opioid Abuse Suppression Taskforce (COAST) Grant, Ventura County Behavioral Health, Substance Use Services - Prevention.
Hi Brad. Please describe your work with the COAST grant.
Brad: My work with COAST includes collection, dissemination, and publishing of pertinent County Opioid-related data via Public and Internal Dashboards, as well liaising between the requirements of the grant and our key stakeholders/partners.
How did you get interested in the field of prevention?
Brad: While serving as an Active-Duty Hospital Corpsman in the Navy, I was assigned to Marine Corps ground forces as a Field Medic. The prevention bug first bit while preparing/educating Marines prior to operational deployments rather than being strictly reactionary. After that tour I became a “Preventive Medicine Technician” within Navy Medicine which specialized in overall safety, health, and wellness of deployable forces within the Navy and Marine Corps.
What is your passion for working in the community?
Brad: It’s validating to contribute toward providing our diverse population a safe place to live and grow despite the challenges we face. This only happens by being at the ground level and interacting with the community along with our multi-agency partners who are working hard to achieve this mutual goal. My passion is to keep these threads tied together, to enhance these relationships and to maintain a unified front in suppressing the opioid crisis.
What are the areas that you hope to make changes in?
Brad: My goal in working within the COAST Project is to act as a conduit toward reducing opiate abuse, overdoses and overdose deaths via immediate communication of real-time data. This communication will then guide prevention, health care, and community leaders who join us in tackling the opioid crisis toward making more informed decisions.
Tell us one thing about you that helps us get to know you better?
Brad: I am originally from the Midwest but felt deeply connected to Ventura County upon being stationed in Port Hueneme some 20 years ago. While my career took me out of the county for a while, the attachment to this area never left. I’m not only happy that I get to live in this amazing area with so much to offer; I’m also increasingly proud I’m able to serve this community in this capacity.
Thank you Brad for sharing your experience with us. Your commitment and passion is inspiring.
Opioid Data Dashboard
Rx Drop-off Day - December 5
Drop off your unused and expired Rx Medications at the Oxnard Police Department's Rx Drop-Off Day on Saturday, December 5!
Cocaine, Meth & Stimulant Summit
Guest Post, Sheila Murphy, COAST Grant Administrator
Led by multi-disciplinary experts from across the nation, the Cocaine, Meth & Stimulant Summit provides the most extensive educational experience for professionals on the frontlines of this rising epidemic.
The Cocaine, Meth & Stimulant Summit was held virtually from November 20-22, 2020. During a year in which conferences via Zoom have become the norm, the Summit came off seamlessly, while also informative and relevant. In its third year, the Cocaine, Meth & Stimulant Summit is the only educational event focused on addressing the Stimulant crisis. Drug overdoses in this country were increasing prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and have increased exponentially since March of this year.
Presentations included 28 live discussions, and two educational tracks, with field experts and change makers who work daily to address this emergency compounding the opioid epidemic. It provided a roster of clinical, law enforcement, and public health professionals with practical strategies and solutions. Stimulants have become increasingly prevalent in overdoses and addiction nationally and locally.
A session I attended on “Applying Best Practices to Communicate about Drug Overdose Prevention” shared that opioids were responsible for 60% of overdose deaths in 2018 across the country and sadly only 10% of those addicted to opioids ever receive treatment. Older people are less likely than the general population to perceive themselves at risk for addiction. Prevention communications about the dangers of opioid addiction to caregivers and first responders is essential.
Watch for my updates where I’ll share some more about lessons learned at the Summit.
Stats: 2.2 million people are current users of cocaine; 6 million Americans misuse prescription stimulants; 964,000 people aged 12 and older have a meth use disorder; and 0 is the number of FDA-approved medications to treat stimulant use disorder.
OK to Drive?
Many medications can impair your ability to drive, making you an unsafe driver while you’re taking them. It’s against the law to drive when you’re impaired. A prescription doesn’t mean it’s OK to drive.
This campaign launched in partnership with the California Office of Traffic Safety to share the message that pain medication and driving don’t mix! This is part of our Dental Prescribing Toolkit and patient education materials.
Ventura County Responds
County launches dashboard to track opioid use, abuse
Simi Valley Acorn, September 18, 2020
Online resource made possible by federal grant aimed at addressing crisis.
The Ventura County Behavioral Health Department launched on Sept. 1 a public-facing data dashboard that provides the community with statistics about opioid-involved drug use. Dr. Loretta Denering, chief of the county’s Substance Use Services Division, said the new dashboard will be a valuable resource to county residents. “Local trends and resources, including addiction treatment locations, prescription drug drop-off locations and overdose prevention strategies, are featured,” she said. “Until now, there has never been a one-stop site.”
In 2018, the department was awarded a federal grant that, in collaboration with multiple agencies, has allowed for more innovative ways to address the opioid crisis. One of the grant efforts was to create the community dashboard in addition to tracking the nature and extent of the crisis locally, as well as providing more services to the public, especially those with an opioid-use disorder.
Ventura County Launches COAST Opioid Data Dashboard
Fewer Overdoses and Increased Access to Care Are Priorities
Ventura County agencies are working together to reduce illicit opioid supply, decrease opioid demand, and save lives. By sharing and comparing data, we can leverage information, analyze trends, and target resources to respond to this evolving public health crisis.
On September 1st, The Ventura County Behavioral Health Department (VCBH) launched a public-facing data dashboard that provides the community with important statistics around opioid involved drug use. The public can access this user-friendly dashboard by visiting www.coastventuracounty.org.
“Local trends and resources, including addiction treatment locations, prescription drug drop-off locations, and overdose prevention strategies are featured. This is a one-stop site."
— Dr. Loretta Denering, Chief, Substance Use Services Division
As a response to the opioid crisis, VCBH has prioritized increased access to care for opioid users. In October of 2018, VCBH was awarded a federal grant, that in collaboration with multiple agencies, including Public Health, Emergency Medical Services, Ambulatory Care, Sheriff’s Office and the Medical Examiner’s Office, has allowed for more innovative ways to address the crisis. One of the grant deliverables was to create this dashboard for the community, in addition to tracking the nature and extent of the crisis locally, as well as providing more services to the public, especially those with an opioid use disorder.
VCBH provides a continuum of care for substance use and addiction problems, with six locations and access to a range of treatment services for achieving and maintaining recovery.
“Getting help for addiction starts with taking fifteen minutes to call the Access Line, or visiting our dashboard. We want people to get to the help they need."
— Dr. Sevet Johnson, Director, Ventura County Behavioral Health
If you believe you or a family member may be struggling with addiction, talk to your healthcare provider or call the confidential 24/7 Access Line: 1-844-385-9200.
View Promotion Resources
Coast Data Dashboard
Video: Effects of COVID-19 on the Opioid Crisis, with Francis Collins and Nora Volkow
NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins and NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic may be escalating the opioid crisis and efforts to adapt research as a result of the convergence of two drastic health crises.
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse, July 6, 2020
The Opioid Crisis and the Hispanic/Latino Population: An Urgent Issue
SAMHSA’s Office of Behavioral Health Equity is pleased to announce a new issue brief: The Opioid Crisis and the Hispanic/Latino Population: An Urgent Issue. The opioid crisis has not abated and has had a significant impact on Hispanic/Latino communities in the U.S. This issue brief presents recent data on prevalence of opioid misuse and death rates in the Hispanic/Latino population; contextual factors and challenges to prevention and treatment; innovative outreach and engagement strategies to connect people to evidence-based treatment; and the importance of community voice.
Getting Naloxone during COVID-19
Could someone you care about Overdose? For more information on how naloxone can save lives and how to get an Overdose Rescue Kit.
FDA Requiring Labeling Changes for Opioid Pain Medicines, Opioid Use Disorder Medicines Regarding Naloxone
Goal is to Help Reduce Opioid Overdoses and Deaths
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced it is requiring that labeling for opioid pain medicine and medicine to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) be updated to recommend that as a routine part of prescribing these medicines, health care professionals should discuss the availability of naloxone with patients and caregivers, both when beginning and renewing treatment. Naloxone is a medicine that can be administered by individuals with or without medical training to help reduce opioid overdose deaths. If naloxone is administered quickly, it can counter the overdose effects, usually within minutes.
“Even during this global pandemic, we have continued to prioritize addressing the opioid crisis,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. "Today’s action can help further raise awareness about this potentially life-saving treatment for individuals that may be at greater risk of an overdose and those in the community most likely to observe an overdose. We will use all available tools to address this crisis, and we know efforts to increase access to naloxone have the potential to put an important medicine for combatting opioid overdose and death in the hands of those who need it most – those at increased risk of opioid overdose and their friends and family.”
2020 AMA Opioid Task Force Drug Overdose Report
Sharp reductions in prescription opioid supply, continued increases in PDMP use, but staggering increase in fatalities involving illicit opioids, methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine were demonstrated last year. AMA calls on policymakers and others to remove barriers to evidence-based care for patients with pain and those with a substance use disorder.
Although fatal opioid overdoses hit a record high in 2019 — and the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to make matters worse — the latest report from the American Medical Association's Opioid Task Force finds that prescriptions for these drugs decreased last year for the sixth year in a row. There was a 37% decrease in opioid prescriptions last year — from more than 244 million in 2014 to around 154 million in 2019. Other trends also point to higher scrutiny of these prescriptions: There was a 64% increase since 2018 in physicians' use of state drug monitoring programs, for instance, which are online databases meant to track prescriptions of controlled substances. And more doctors are also prescribing naloxone: More than 1 million prescriptions of the drug were dispensed last year, which is more than double the number in 2018.
COVID-19 Resources and Substance Use Disorders
The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for people with substance use disorders and in recovery. The following resources from Dr. Nora Volkow, NIDA Director, may help. See interviews with Dr. Volkow and read the FAQs on COVID-19 and Addiction/Substance Use Disorder.
Many People Treated for Opioid Overdose in Emergency Departments Die Within 1 Year
This study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported:
- About 1 in 20 patients treated for a nonfatal opioid overdose in an emergency department died within 1 year of their visit, many within 2 days.
- Two-thirds of these deaths were directly attributed to subsequent opioid-related overdoses.
- Immediate treatment for substance use disorder in the ED that continues after discharge is needed to reduce opioid-related deaths.
Citation: NIDA. (2020, April 2). Many People Treated for Opioid Overdose in Emergency Departments Die Within 1 Year. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2020/04/many-people-treated-opioid-overdose-in-emergency-departments-die-within-1-year on 2020, June 10
The Opioid Crisis and the Black/African American Population: An Urgent Issue
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by SAMHSA’s Office of Behavioral Health Equity, March 2020
The opioid crisis has not abated and has had a significant impact on African American communities. This issue brief presents recent data on prevalence of opioid misuse and death rates in the Black/ African American population; contextual factors and challenges to prevention and treatment; innovative outreach and engagement strategies to connect people to evidence-based treatment; and the importance of community voice.
DEA launches Secure Your Meds campaign, calls on Americans to keep medications safe
With families encouraged to stay at home due to the nationwide health crisis, the Drug Enforcement Administration is asking Americans to keep prescription medications safe and secure until they can properly dispose of them. The Secure Your Meds awareness campaign addresses a vital public safety and health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. The campaign also prompts families to discuss the issue of controlled prescription drug abuse.
Vaping, Opioid Addiction Accelerate Coronavirus Risks, Says NIDA Director
Volkow spoke with Kaiser Health News about the emerging science around COVID-19’s relationship to vaping and to opioid use disorder, as well as how these underlying epidemics could increase people’s risks. In 2018, opioid overdoses claimed about 47,000 American lives. Last year, federal authorities reported that 5.4 million middle and high school students vaped. And just two months ago, about 2,800 cases of vaping-associated lung injuries resulted in hospitalizations; 68 people died. Until mid-March, these numbers commanded attention. But as the coronavirus death toll climbs and the economic costs of attempting to control its spread wreak havoc, the public health focus is now dramatically different.
Addressing the Stigma that Surrounds Addiction
Untreated drug and alcohol use contribute to tens of thousands of deaths every year and impact the lives of many more. Healthcare already has effective tools including medications for opioid and alcohol use disorder that could prevent many of these deaths, but they are not being utilized widely enough, and many people who could benefit do not even seek them out. One important reason is the stigma that surrounds people with addiction.
NIDA. (2020, April 22). Addressing the Stigma that Surrounds Addiction.
Coronavirus Crisis Spurs Access To Online Treatment For Opioid Addiction
Opioid addiction isn't taking a break during the coronavirus pandemic, but the U.S. response to the viral crisis is making addiction treatment easier to get. Opioid addiction isn't taking a break during the coronavirus pandemic. But the U.S. response to the viral crisis is making addiction treatment easier to get. Under the national emergency declared by the Trump administration in March, the government has suspended a federal law that required patients to have an in-person visit with a physician before they could be prescribed drugs that help quell withdrawal symptoms, such as Suboxone. Patients can now get those prescriptions via a phone call or videoconference with a doctor
Opioid Summaries by State
Opioid-involved overdose deaths dropped in 2018. Learn how the Opioid Crisis is affecting your state.
HHS Official: ‘Fourth Wave’ Looms in Drug Crisis
Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit 2020
Despite overall drug overdose-related deaths decreasing in 2018, other statistics indicate a rising “fourth wave” in the nation’s substance use disorder crisis means there is more work to be done, federal officials said in addresses presented during the evening plenary session of the virtual Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit on Wednesday.
Admiral Brett Giroir, MD, assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said methamphetamine-associated deaths saw a 20% to 30% year-over-year increase in 2018, with methamphetamine-associated deaths overtaking those linked to prescription opioids and heroin, with cocaine soon to be next. Polysubstance use is now the norm, Giroir said, noting that methamphetamine and illicit fentanyl or fentayl analogue use together is on the rise.
DEA releases 2020 Drugs of Abuse Resource Guide
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has released the 2020 edition of Drugs of Abuse, A DEA Resource Guide, which is designed to be a reliable resource on the most commonly abused and misused drugs in the United States. Drugs of Abuse provides important science-based information about the harms and consequences of drug use, describing a drug’s effects on the body and mind, overdose potential, origin, legal status, and other key factors.
Researchers: Hope is on the horizon
Many clinical trials and research initiatives targeted to the opioid crisis have had to be placed on hold while our country focuses on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the potential that awaits just over the horizon is encouraging, stated two of the country’s leading researchers. Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – both long-time contributors to the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit – joined Thursday, April 16, for a conversation to discuss the status of promising research.
U.S. Representatives: Don’t Dial Back Opioid Response Now
RX Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit.
In Wednesday’s morning plenary session in the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, three U.S. representatives expressed cautious optimism about the nation’s drug overdose death rate dropping by 4.6% in 2018—the first decline recorded in decades—but added that neither that development nor the COVID-19 crisis is a reason to throttle back now.
“For the first time in literally 20 years, the number of Americans who lost their lives to opioid overdose declined. Think about that. That’s bending the curve in a productive way. But obviously, the fight is not over. We’ll have to continue in the years ahead to devote additional resources to research, law enforcement and, most importantly, finding ways to help folks who have become addicted—usually through no fault of their own, usually by following a legitimate prescription given to them by a medical professional."
Officials worry of potential spike in overdose deaths amid COVID-19 pandemic
Health officials worry extended isolation could exacerbate the problem. Health officials acknowledged there could be a myriad of potential factors behind the increase of overdoses in some communities, with a primary concern being the obstacles that social distancing orders have created for public health services like addiction clinics and syringe exchange services.
For Drug Users, COVID-19 Poses Added Dangers
The National Institute on Drug Abuse director warns the coronavirus could increase the pressure to use, cause complicated health effects and curtail access to treatment for those struggling with addiction. As the novel coronavirus spreads and more states issue stay-at-home orders in the U.S., the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse says social isolation and overburdened health systems could paint a dire picture for people struggling with addiction.
"Every one of us is affected by COVID – maybe we don't get infected, (but) we're all anxious because of the uncertainties" surrounding it, NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow says. "How we cope with that anxiety is very much dependent on multiple factors, including our circumstances, but one of the ways that people cope with it is by taking drugs."
Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit 2020
The Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, a 2020 Virtual Experience, begins today through April 16. VCBH staff have been attending the Rx Summit since its inception in 2012. We brought back the inspiration and the momentum of the Rx Summit annually to inform our efforts to address the opioid crisis at home in Ventura County.
“The same power, the same drive that prompted you to be a part of the solution – to beat back the opioid epidemic, to save lives, and bring illegal drug dealers to justice – it’s that same victorious spirit that will carry this nation through the coronavirus pandemic. Together, we have witnessed a dramatic shift in the stigma behind drug abuse, and most importantly we have seen the number of overdose deaths finally decrease across the country – falling from more than 70,000 in 2017 to under 68,000 in 2018, according to the CDC. It’s a direct result of your comprehensive work. We have ambushed the opioid epidemic on every side – through improvements in law enforcement, treatment and education.” - Congressman Hal Rogers
COVID-19: Potential Implications for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders
We know very little right now about COVID-19 and even less about its intersection with substance use disorders. But we can make educated guesses based on past experience that people with compromised health due to smoking or vaping and people with opioid, methamphetamine, cannabis, and other substance use disorders could find themselves at increased risk of COVID-19 and its more serious complications—for multiple physiological and social/environmental reasons. The research community should thus be alert to associations between COVID-19 case severity/mortality and substance use, smoking or vaping history, and smoking- or vaping-related lung disease. We must also ensure that patients with substance use disorders are not discriminated against if a rise in COVID-19 cases places added burden on our healthcare system.
NIDA. (2020, April 6). COVID-19: Potential Implications for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2020/04/covid-19-potential-implications-individuals-substance-use-disorders on 2020, April 10
Getting Naloxone during COVID-19
If a loved one or someone you know may be at risk of an overdose, call us about getting an Overdose Rescue Kit. If you are eligible for a kit, we will train you online on how to use naloxone. You will then be instructed on how to pick up a kit by appointment at one of our VCBH locations.
Call about a Rescue Kit at (805) 667-6663.
NIDA director outlines potential risks to people who smoke and use drugs during COVID-19 pandemic
The precarious intersection of the COVID-19 national health emergency and the concurrent epidemic of drug overdose deaths is outlined in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week by Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Volkow discusses how the serious health risks of COVID-19 pose unique challenges to people who smoke or vape, are already struggling with substance use disorders (SUD), or are in recovery from addiction.
People recovering from addiction now face new challenges. Physical distancing measures, while critical to COVID-19 mitigation, eliminate the important element of social support needed for addiction recovery. Additionally, people with opioid use disorder may face barriers to obtaining medications (i.e., buprenorphine or methadone) or obtaining services from syringe services programs. Social distancing will also decrease the likelihood of observed overdoses; administration of naloxone to reverse overdose may be less likely, potentially resulting in more fatalities.
NIDA. (2020, April 2). NIDA Director outlines potential risks to people who smoke and use drugs during COVID-19 pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2020/04/nida-director-outlines-potential-risks-to-people-who-smoke-use-drugs-during-covid-19-pandemic on 2020, April 2
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Postponed
The upcoming National Prescription Drug Take Back Day scheduled for Saturday, April 25, 2020, is postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. DEA will reschedule Take Back Day for a date shortly after the health crisis recedes and national emergency guidelines are lifted.
COVID-19: Potential Implications for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders
As people across the U.S. and the rest of the world contend with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the research community should be alert to the possibility that it could hit some populations with substance use disorders (SUDs) particularly hard. People with opioid use disorder (OUD) and methamphetamine use disorder may also be vulnerable due to those drugs’ effects on respiratory and pulmonary health.
Source: NIDA. (2020, March 12). COVID-19: Potential Implications for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2020/03/covid-19-potential-implications-individuals-substance-use-disorders on 2020, March 20
Opioid Withdrawal Raises Health Risks for Injection Drug Users: Study
Having opioid withdrawal symptoms increases the odds that injection drug users will share needles or have a non-fatal overdose, new research suggests. For the study, the researchers questioned more than 800 injection drug users in San Francisco and Los Angeles. "Withdrawal is one of the main chronic health challenges for this population, and we need to be intervening on it," said lead author Ricky Bluthenthal. He's associate dean for social justice at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, in Los Angeles. An average 130 people a day die in the United States from an opioid overdose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Needle sharing increases a person's risk of infections such as HIV and hepatitis, as well as other serious health problems, the CDC says.
COVID-19 is an Emerging, Rapidly Evolving Situation, NIDA
Stay updated at the National Institute on Drug Abuse on the latest news about COVID-19.
News: Eco-tip: Safeguard drug discards in a time of opioid crisis
“Don’t be a drug dealer!” warned a flier distributed to seniors over the past month. The flier advocated safe disposal for expired and unused drugs and promoted a collection event, which collected and safely disposed more than 22 pounds of pills at three senior centers in Oxnard. To combat the problem of seniors unwittingly contributing to the opioid addiction epidemic by storing unused and expired medications in places accessible to friends, family, workers, intruders or just curious children, Eastlake obtained a grant to fund the Senior Volunteer Program, which includes the drug collection program. Using additional funds and assistance provided by the Ventura County Behavioral Health Department, Eastlake is also overseeing additional efforts by STOP, an acronym for Seniors Tackling the Opioid Problem.
News: Lethally potent counterfeit pills taking more lives with drug overdoses in Ventura County
More Ventura County drug abusers are overdosing on pills that look like real medications but are often spiked with a lethally potent synthetic opioid, according to authorities. While the overall number of overdoses appears to be holding steady, authorities are seeing a lower proportion from the street forms of drugs that are injected or smoked, according to the Ventura County Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit. Instead, the trend since the last quarter of 2019 is toward look-alikes of commonly abused prescription pills.
Armed with overdose drug Narcan, Oxnard police aim to reduce opioid fatalities
Ventura County Star
Public safety personnel locally and nationwide have seen a dramatic increase in drug overdose calls in recent years. In 2018, Oxnard police responded to 190 overdose calls, or nearly four per week. The Oxnard Police Department has responded to the opioid epidemic by training officers to administer an overdose-reversal drug and changing the protocol for logging overdose calls. In early 2018, the department began equipping officers with naloxone, also known as Narcan, a nasal spray that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Today, 150 officers are equipped with naloxone kits, Cmdr. Sharon Giles said Tuesday in a report to the City Council.
“If you have someone that you believe is suffering from drug dependency and has overdosed, this goes into the nostril, a couple pumps and it’s administered,” Giles told the council while showing the nasal spray. In 2018, 19 of the 96 opioid-related deaths in Ventura County were in Oxnard. Figures for 2019 were not yet available, but Giles said she expects the number will be lower due to naloxone. 2019 was the first full year in which officers were equipped with naloxone. Officers used the nasal spray nine times.