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.
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.