All across the U.S., communities are facing an epidemic of opioid addiction and all the negative consequences associated with it. What began with prescription painkillers has morphed into a heroin epidemic. The need for treatment to help the thousands of addicts is great, but experts still debate the best way in which to reach and care for everyone. A bill in the Massachusetts Legislature is stirring that debate, specifically over the effectiveness of inpatient treatment and who should pay for it.
A new bill signed into state law by Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts has garnered national attention. The bill is designed to fight substance abuse in the state, and it places a significant emphasis on treatment for people living with substance use disorders.
The legislation requires insurance companies to cover a number of services that have not been universally available, including up to 14 days of inpatient treatment for those with substance use disorders. The bill received bipartisan support in the Massachusetts legislature.
On June 18, 2014, the New York state legislature passed a series of bills that will affect drug abuse prevention, drug abuse treatment and drug distribution penalties throughout the state.
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the state legislature had made it clear that addressing the state’s opioid abuse problem was a priority before the end of the legislative session on June 19th. Lawmakers hope that the new measures will improve access to treatment for many people with opioid addictions and also provide more tools for law enforcement when it comes to disrupting the illegal sale of prescription and street opioids.
A key government panel has voted against approval of a powerful opioid prescription painkiller called Moxduo that is said to offer faster relief with fewer side effects than other painkillers on the market.
In April, the Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rejected the application for Moxduo. Moxduo is a strong opioid narcotic painkilling drug manufactured by the pharmaceutical company QRxPharma. The drug combines morphine and oxycodone, two opioid painkillers that are currently manufactured separately under a variety of names.
Medical marijuana is the common term for marijuana issued via prescription by a licensed physician. Although federal statutes prohibit the use of marijuana in this (or any other) context, roughly a third of all U.S. states have laws that permit doctors to prescribe the drug. In a study published in March 2014 in the International Journal of Drug Policy, researchers from two U.S. institutions sought to determine if state-level laws permitting doctors to prescribe medical marijuana have contributed to a sharp increase in marijuana potency that has occurred over the last 20-plus years.
In a tale too often told, another rock star has revealed that his stint in rehab was due to alcohol and prescription pill addiction.
Billie Joe Armstrong, who has enjoyed another round of success following his early 1990s success with punk rock group Green Day, recently revealed that he would use substances to such a degree that he would black out. He said that at times he would awaken in a strange place, unaware of how he got there.
Today, around 47 million Americans are taking pills made with Hydrocodone to manage some form of chronic pain. Known as opioids, these painkillers have become the focal point of a swirling debate. On one side are patients who are living with barely manageable chronic pain for whom the drugs are a godsend. On the other side are the families of those addicted to opioids, drug enforcement agencies and even the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, abuse of prescription opioids is an epidemic problem in this country.
In a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia demanded that the organization stand up for the American people and take a stronger stance against drugs containing Hydrocodone. Hydrocodone such as that found in Vicodin, is a powerful narcotic painkiller that is highly addictive. As such, it is often taken recreationally in the United States.
The letter comes on the heels of a meeting by the FDA advisory board in which members voted overwhelmingly to re-class drugs with Hydrocodone from Schedule III to Schedule II because of their high potential for misuse. While the FDA normally acts on the advice of its panels, so far the organization has remained silent.
In the long search for solutions to the problem of chronic drug abuse, one of the most promising developments has been the creation of drug courts reserved for non-violent offenders caught possessing illegal substances. Drug courts offer substance abusers taken into custody by the police an opportunity to avoid jail time–if they agree to submit to treatment and rehabilitation. Those who have been arrested for possession of an illegal intoxicant can apply for diversion to a drug court, and, if they have no history of violent crime, have not previously been convicted of selling illegal substances, and can prove they really are suffering from an addiction, their chances of being moved into the drug court system are excellent-assuming, of course, that drug courts are available (there are about 2,600 of these alternative judicial bodies in the U.S.).