RU Texas The Beat

Northern Kentucky Officials Taking Addiction Prevention into their Own Hands

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 21, 2017 11:12:20 AM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Drug Treatment, Addiction, Rehab, Kentucky

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Every so often, we’re reminded of the power of communities to mobilize and improve conditions for their citizens and outlying neighborhoods. Whether it’s an issue with drug trafficking, relations with law enforcement, environmental impact or anything else, real change starts at the grass-roots level with people who are directly affected by the problem that needs changing. Officials in Northern Kentucky-a region of the United States that has been hit particularly hard by the American opioid crisis-has demonstrated such a commitment to ground-level change with a bold new initiative that makes it harder for addicts to access prescription drugs for illicit use.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department has partnered with Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and several local officials and businesses to launch a program that will provide free drug disposal pouches to ensure that medications are disposed of properly. The organization announced the collaboration in a statement in which they also said officials will announce details of the initiative Thursday at the Boone County Sheriff's Office in Burlington. The initiative makes permanent in the area, the same kind of one-day opioid-disposal events we’ve seen in Kentucky as well as the rest of the country, including Florida and Texas. Further details are expected to be forthcoming.

In addition to federal and state funding, law enforcement awareness, increased treatment options and other vital anti-overdoses resources, community involvement is key to preventing the further proliferation of localized drug trafficking and abuse. In 2015, the state of Kentucky saw nearly 1,250 overdose deaths, an increase of over 200 from the previous year. Local officials have cause to believe the problem is getting worse. Like most areas of the United States, the proliferation of fentanyl has spiked overall overdose rates in the region. Most recently, the city of Louisville recorded 52 overdoses in a 32-hour period, a trend which area hospitals and law enforcement say is likely to continue.

Kentucky’s proactive action reminds communities everywhere of their power to affect change and keep themselves and he people around them safe. A culture of drug trafficking seriously erodes quality of life in any community it touches, and the sooner we realize that, and work to prevent it, the better off we will be. While we can’t expect our friends and neighbors to solve the world’s addiction problems, we can start the process of incremental change by asking ourselves what we can do to curb addiction in our own corners of the world.

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Donald Trump’s Drug Prevention Policy…So Far

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 10, 2016 1:51:06 PM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Drug Treatment, Addiction, Reform, Donald Trump

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On November 8th, the country made its choice regarding which candidate it wanted as its next Commander-in-Chief. Amidst the tumult, uncertainty and fair amount of political venom of one of the most bizarre and divisive presidential election cycles in modern American history, it would appear that the dust of campaign season is beginning to settle; and while many are finding the results to be problematic and unsettling, institutional consensus dictates the country move forward and that President-Elect Trump focus on policy. This includes taking on the drug addiction problem that has become the most deadly and pervasive public health issue facing the United States, claiming over 47,000 American lives at its peak in 2014.

Thus far, it would appear that Trump’s drug prevention policy is a mixed bag of treatment and enforcement. An October 15th speech in New Hampshire put him on record as favoring increased mandatory minimum sentences, a position echoed and implemented by VP-Elect Mike Pence when was he was Governor of Indiana. On the other side of the coin, President-Elect Trump favors increased access to medication-assisted treatment through increasing patient caps on buprenorphine dispensation and loosening restrictions on prescribing physicians. He also believes that the Food and Drug Administration takes too long in approving opioid treatment drugs.

One way a Trump Administration may negatively impact the upward trajectory of treatment access is by fulfilling his promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a law that has significantly increased access and funding of addiction treatment, and has solidified addiction as a bona fide medical illness in the eyes of clinicians and the insurance industry. It’s not clear as to how much of the ACA is slated for change or repeal; however, the impact on the thousands of Americans who have struggled in the past to get quality treatment could be significant. Ultimately we will have to wait and see exactly what a Trump presidency means for the current and future recovery population.

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2016 Red Ribbon Week Spreads Awareness of Drug Addiction

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 7, 2016 3:51:02 PM / by RU Texas posted in Drug Treatment, Drug Abuse, drug addiction, Red Ribbon Week, National Family Partnership, Education

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October 31st marked the conclusion of this year’s Red Ribbon Week, a nine-day event meant to spread awareness and education regarding the dangers of drug abuse and addiction. Red Ribbon Week was established by the National Family Partnership, an organization established in 1980 by parents affected by drug addiction in their families in an effort promote empowerment and action. Since their inception, they’ve become a national leader in prevention, education and advocacy on a mission to lead and support American families in nurturing the full potential of healthy and drug-free youth. This year marked the 31st anniversary of Red Ribbon Week, the organization’s flagship event.

Red Ribbon Week helps families and loved ones of those who are vulnerable to addiction recognize the signs, learn how to intervene in the event of a problem and how develop techniques to keep their loved ones away from drugs. This year’s theme was YOLO (You Only Live Once): Be Drug Free. Families and schools across America were invited and encouraged to participate in Red Ribbon Week in whatever capacity possible, whether it was through active curriculum ideas, integrating existing ideas in their schools or communities, or simply promoting the event on social media. This year marked the sixth annual photo contest, in which $20,000 will be dispensed among ten winning schools across America.

Events like Red Ribbon Week, as well as organizations like the National Family Partnership, are much-needed resources in an increasingly uphill battle against drug abuse and addiction. In a time which today’s youth are more vulnerable than ever to becoming tomorrow’s addicts, it’s critical that education, awareness and empowerment start as early as possible, and be offered in school and at home. There is no shortage of opportunities to get involved with NFP and Red Ribbon Week and do your part in curtailing substance abuse in your community.

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Holding Them Accountable: Find Out Where Your Candidates Stand on Addiction Treatment

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 26, 2016 1:57:36 PM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Drug Treatment, Drug Abuse, Alcohol Treatment, Treatment, Alcoholism, Election

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As coverage of the 2016 presidential election dominates virtually every media outlet in the country, far less attention is being paid to the down-ballot races that will be decided on the same day. We’ve only recently begun to hear about the importance of these contests, and it’s been largely in relation to the race for the White House. On November 8, 2016, Americans will determine the outcome of 469 separate elections (34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats) that will arguably prove to have more impact on their everyday lives than who’s sitting in the Oval Office. This is an opportunity to affect real change in their community and let their voices be heard.

Those of us that have been impacted by drug or alcohol addiction, whether directly or indirectly, will undoubtedly want to know what our current and prospective leaders plan to do to address this public health crisis going forward. One of the best and most accurate ways to do this is by getting engaged and investigating how they’ve acted on this issue in the past. We can start the process of vetting our candidates by checking their voting records. These records are public and are a profound indicator of our leaders’ level of involvement and willingness to improve the treatment climate in their communities.

The opioid elephant in the room is getting harder and harder to ignore. While it’s now wildly popular to come down in favor of treatment reform and increased access, funding this initiative is another matter, altogether. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act may have enjoyed a comfortable 94-1 vote in the Senate, but that’s not where the legislative battle ends. To date, the bill is nowhere near paid for. The point is that there is legislation being discussed every day to combat the rise of addiction in America; some even makes it to a vote. We can begin to turn the tide of substance abuse in this country by better understanding how the leaders we put in power plan to address it.

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