RU Texas The Beat

Misinformation Plays Significant Role in Texas Drug Epidemic

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 9, 2017 2:22:13 PM / by RU Texas posted in Overdose, Recovery, Addiction, Addiction Treatment, Heroin Addiction, Opioid, Underreporting

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

get-facts.jpgIt’s, frankly, little surprise that many healthcare organizations and state agencies would have a hard time keeping up with the glut of addiction-related fatalities consuming the United States. The reality is that this urgent and pervasive public health issue is growing faster than we, as a nation, can get our arms around it. The fact remains; however, that when inaccurately reported numbers (however unintentional) are allowed to fester and go uncorrected it has a nasty habit of dictating policy; this is a reality that the Lone Star State is finding out, first hand, as it endeavors to curb substance abuse within its borders.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released numbers that indicated Texas had among the lowest rates in the nation for heroin and opioid abuse. Data from the Houston Chronicle, however, indicates that these numbers might be a product of underreporting. There have been multiple examples of misalignment between state and county calculations that have resulted in a lowballing of the state’s overdose rates. County estimations, which are likely to be more accurate, are consistently higher than state calculations. Texas is just one of many states in which underreporting and misinformation further clouds the full scope of the addiction problem.

Why is it so important that these numbers are accurately reported? In addition to the obvious answer of making sure every human life is recognized and the state has a full and accurate picture of the public health matters affecting it, these figures translate into real and tangible resources to help counties fight drug and alcohol abuse in their communities. Lower estimates tend to get lower attention and subsequently lower prevention and treatment resources. For its own part, Texas is looking at the discrepancies in numbers and how to best ensure consistency of reporting at the state and local levels, going forward.

With heroin and opioid rates posing such an urgent threat to communities all over the country, it’s easy for certain locales to get lost in the shuffle. One of the best ways to accurately assess the full scope of threat and the progress we’re making to curb it as a nation, from year to year is to make sure everyone is doing their part to deliver the right information. We’ve seen what happens when inaccurate data is allowed to govern the addiction care conversation in this country, and it’s partly responsible for the escalation we have seen in recent decades.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Louisville Overdose Spike Reignites Treatment Versus Enforcement Conversation

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 16, 2017 12:49:00 PM / by RU Texas posted in Overdose, Recovery, Addiction, Treatment, Opioid

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

9090874_G.jpg

A city that has been at the forefront of the American opioid epidemic since its start, Louisville, Kentucky recently experienced an even higher-than-usual increase in overdoses this past week. The city’s Metro Emergency Medical Services reported 151 overdose calls in less than seven days. Concerned that these spikes are no longer mere anomalies-but rather the new normal as the rest of the state and the entire country continues to contend with an increasingly pervasive and sophisticated opioid problem-Louisville has pledged to hire 150 new police officers to crack down on dealers. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer also plans to collaborate with the DEA on overdose death investigations to get heroin dealers off our streets, and forming a task force with other agencies, including the FBI, the DEA, ATF, the US Attorney, Kentucky State Police and the State Attorney General's Office, to pursue, arrest and prosecute violent offenders.

Other Louisville officials-namely Dr. Joann Schulte, who heads the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness-have a different approach to combatting the statewide public health issue. In a recent apparent indictment of Louisville’s attitude toward medication-assisted treatment, Schulte told council members that Louisville needs to “grow up” and bolster medication-assisted treatment resources, as abstinence doesn’t work for everyone. Schulte forecasted a dim and prolonged battle with drug addiction in the city that saw 695 overdoses in the first month of 2017 alone. She lamented programs that don’t offer medications like methadone or buprenorphine-based drugs due to fears that patients will be replacing one drug with another. Proponents of mediation-assisted treatment claim that abstinence-based care doesn’t work for every patient.

While there is certainly wisdom in bulking up prevention and enforcement resources in the area, little has been said about Louisville’s plans to expand treatment to its sizable population of opioid addicts. Officials at Louisville’s Norton Audobon Hospital report that more overdoses are being treated at the hospital and the patients require larger amounts of the anti-overdose drug Narcan. They cite a significant spike in ER admissions and that more patients are needing to admitted for prolonged periods, rather than just being treated and released. Hospitals alone can’t offer the comprehensive treatment resources of a high-level treatment facility with medically supervised detox and rehab. While the situation in Louisville is unique in its own right, it also paints a larger picture of the ongoing battle between treatment and enforcement-first approaches when it comes to addiction.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Kroger to Sell Narcan at Pharmacies in 105 East Texas Locations

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 9, 2017 7:27:56 PM / by Sample HubSpot User posted in Recovery, Treatment, Heroin Addiction, Narcan, Opioid, Kroger

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

AR-151129842.jpg

With the state of Texas battling a fierce and pervasive heroin and opioid problem, lawmakers, police, recovery advocates and ordinary residents alike are banding together to come up with more and more solutions to curtail overdose. Most recently, the statewide prevention effort gained a new ally: Kroger Supermarkets. The national grocery chain as partnered with the Texas Pharmacy Association to offer the anti-overdose drug Narcan in the pharmacies at all 105 of their East Texas stores. NARCAN® (naloxone HCl) Nasal Spray delivers a 4mg concentrated dose of naloxone, which is simple, ready-to-use, and needle free. NARCAN® can be easily administered to someone who is actively overdosing on an opioid.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 2,600 Texans died from drug overdose. Marlene Stewart, president of Kroger’s Houston division, has stated the company’s intention to be part of Texas’ initiative to decrease heroin and opioid overdoses across the state. In 2016, Texas SB 1462 took effect, which allows authorized medical professionals to prescribe naloxone through a standing order. Kroger pharmacists have received special training and education as part of the program. They are now educated and empowered to teach patients or third-party deployment agents to properly administer the drug in the event of an overdose.

Texas’ relationship with Narcan has evolved considerably over the past few years. In 2016, more and more police departments across the state were mandated to carry the drug amidst escalating overdose fatalities. Kroger is the latest company to offer the much-needed Narcan. In 2015, Walgreens started offering the drug in its 715 stores throughout the state. As the rate of opioid-related deaths continues to rise throughout Texas, increased access to Narcan in vulnerable areas is just one of a few proactive measures communities can take to protect themselves against losing a loved one.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Subscribe to Email Updates

New Call-to-action

Lists by Topic

see all

Posts by Topic

see all