More than 8,200 Americans—an average of 23 people each day—died of heroin overdoses in 2013. That’s according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and it’s the latest evidence that the nation’s heroin problem is becoming more severe. The rate of overdose deaths in 2013, the CDC report states, is almost triple what it was in 2010.
The state Department of Health is offering a smartphone app to help Washingtonians kick their tobacco habits, and the first 1,900 app downloads are free.
SmartQuit follows a unique program created at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to help people become tobacco-free.
A study conducted by the Seattle cancer research center found that SmartQuit users were two-to-three times more likely to kick their nicotine addiction than those who tried to quit on their own.
The first 1,900 app downloads are free.
“Quitting tobacco is one of the best things a person can do for their health,” said Joella Pyatt, cessation coordinator at the Department of Health, “and we want to give people the tools they need to succeed. Tobacco related illnesses are still one of the top killers in our state.”
The agency is offering 1,900 free downloads through funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People must complete an online survey before receiving a code that provides access to a version of the app that is unique to the state health department.
The app can be purchased for $49.99 after the free codes are given out, and will be available in the iTunes and Android app stores.
By Teresa Wiltz
On Super Bowl Sunday, most football fans watched ads for Victoria’s Secret, the lost Budweiser dog and a deadpan Kim Kardashian extolling the virtues of T-Mobile. But in St. Louis, those national ads were supplemented with a different kind of Super Bowl commercial.
On screen, the camera focused on the face of a white middle class teenager as he died of a heroin overdose. Off screen, a singer crooned along to perky guitar music: First you stole prescription pills from your mom/You threw back a few and then they were gone/So you’re jonesing real bad and you need some more… And that’s how, how you got addicted to heroin.
Beginning in the 1920s, when heroin became illegal, people tended to think of heroin abuse as a problem plaguing people of color in the big cities.
But in the past decade, heroin abuse has exploded—and it is hitting white people in suburbs and rural areas particularly hard. As the demographics of heroin use have changed, so have states’ efforts to combat the problem.
“People have recognized that (heroin addiction) is a problem facing folks they know as well as groups that are distant from them. That certainly affects the way you view the problem,” said Kurt Schmoke, who as Baltimore mayor from 1987 to 1999 was harshly criticized for his efforts to decriminalize drug use.
Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia now have laws designed to make naloxone, a heroin antidote that is 99 percent effective, more easily accessible to overdose victims, according to the Network for Public Health Law.
From Public Health – Seattle & King County
Public Health – Seattle & King County has filed papers in King County Superior Court asking the court to stop two hookah bars for exposing employees and the public to tobacco smoke in violation of Washington’s Smoking in Public Places Act and local Board of Health Code.
The request for an injunction was filed against The Night Owl in Seattle’s University District and Medina Hookah Lounge in south Seattle.
A hookah is a glass pipe filled with water that is used for smoking flavored tobacco, often by several people at once.
During a typical 45-minute session of hookah use, a person may inhale as much smoke, tobacco and carcinogens as smoking 100 cigarettes or more.
Smoking in public places law
Washington’s Smoking in Public Places law was passed by voters in 2005 and prohibits smoking in public places and places of employment. The local Board of Health code mirrors the state law and includes provisions that prohibit the use of electronic smoking devices.
Hookah bars have claimed that they are exempt from the indoor smoking law because they are private clubs. However, smoking is prohibited by law if an establishment has employees and/or the club is open to the public.
A previous ruling by a King County Hearing Examiner on February 12, 2014 found that both the Night Owl and Medina are open to the public, operating similarly to night clubs that charge a cover for admission.
“Hookah smoke is as addictive as traditional cigarettes”, said Patty Hayes, Interim Director, Public Health- Seattle & King County. “Asking the court for an injunction is a measure of last resort, but it is necessary now to ensure all our businesses are protecting the health of employees and the public.” Continue reading
By Chrisine Vestal
Under the Affordable Care Act, millions of low-income adults last year became eligible for Medicaid and subsidized health insurance for the first time.
Now states face a huge challenge: how to deal with an onslaught of able-bodied, 18- to 64-year olds who haven’t seen a doctor in years.
“It took a lot of time and effort to enroll everyone, particularly those who were new to the system,” said Matt Salo, director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. “The next big step, and the biggest unknown, is finding out exactly how this newly insured population will use the health care system.”
In addition to increasing the number of people with health insurance, the Affordable Care Act for the first time made coverage of addiction services mandatory for all insurers, including Medicaid.
The newly insured, most of them young adults, have different needs. Though not as sick as existing Medicaid beneficiaries, the newcomers are more likely than the general population to have undiagnosed and untreated chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.
The starkest difference between the new population and the old one, however, is that the new enrollees have much higher rates of drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness.
The number of Medicaid enrollees receiving addiction services is expected to skyrocket over the next two years.
In addition to increasing the number of people with health insurance, the ACA for the first time made coverage of addiction services and other behavioral health disorders mandatory for all insurers, including Medicaid. As a result, the number of Medicaid enrollees receiving addiction services is expected to skyrocket over the next two years.
Although Medicaid and other state and federal programs historically have provided care for people with serious mental illness, coverage of addiction treatments has been spotty. Optional under Medicaid until now, coverage in most states was limited, typically just for pregnant women and adolescents.
“It’s the biggest change in a generation for addiction services,” said Robert Morrison, executive director of the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors. “Comprehensive addiction programs didn’t exist in Medicaid until now.” Continue reading
From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Alcohol poisoning deaths are caused by drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time.
This can result in very high levels of alcohol in the body, which can shutdown critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and body temperature – resulting in death.
Despite the risks, more than 38 million U.S. adults report binge drinking an average of four times per month and consume an average of eight drinks per binge.
Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men on an occasion.
The more you drink, the greater your risk of death.
Key findings of this Vital Signs report include:
- There are more than 2,200 alcohol poisoning deaths in the U.S. each year – an average of 6 alcohol poisoning deaths every day.
- Three in four alcohol poisoning deaths involve adults ages 35-64, and most deaths occur among men.
- While the majority of deaths are among non-Hispanic whites, American Indians/Alaska Natives have the most alcohol poisoning deaths per million people.
- Deaths rates from alcohol poisoning vary widely across states, from 5.3 alcohol poisoning deaths per million residents in Alabama to 46.5 deaths per million residents in Alaska.
From the US Department of Health and Human Services
Use of cigarettes, alcohol, and abuse of prescription pain relievers among teens has declined since 2013 while marijuana use rates were stable, according to the 2014 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, released today by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). However, use of e-cigarettes, measured in the report for the first time, is high.
These 2014 results are part of an overall two-decade trend among the nation’s youth. The MTF survey measures drug use and attitudes among eighth, 10th, and 12th graders, is funded by NIDA, and is conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. NIDA is part of the National Institutes of Health.
“With the rates of many drugs decreasing, and the rates of marijuana use appearing to level off, it is possible that prevention efforts are having an effect,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D.
Naloxone kits for treating opioid overdoses are now available at a number of pharmacies in Snohomish County.
These kits are available just by asking the pharmacists, there is no need to see a doctor to obtain a prescription.The cost of the kits is around $125.
Pharmacists will provide education to those being given a Naloxone kit on how to use it and when to use it.
In 2013 there were 86 opioid drug overdoses in Snohomish County, and 580 within Washington State.
The availability of naloxone (sold under the brand name Narcan) could potentially cut down on deaths due to heroin and prescription opioid drugs (morphine, oxycodone/OxyContin, methadone, hydrocodone/Vicodin, and codeine). Continue reading
You’ve been protecting your kids their whole lives. So don’t just hand them the keys to a two-ton machine with no rules… Talk it out. Tell your teenagers they have to agree to 5 rules to drive:
- No cell phones,
- No extra passengers,
- No speeding,
- No alcohol, and
Set the rules before they hit the road.
Learn more here.
Got Drugs? – National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
September 27, 2014
10AM to 2PM
The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.
Patients who use drugs containing hydrocodone as a pain reliever or cough suppressant are going to have to jump through more hoops to get them starting next month.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is reclassifying so-called “hydrocodone combination products” (HCP) from Schedule III to Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act, which will more tightly restrict access. Vicodin, for example, is an HCP because it has hydrocodone and acetaminophen.
The final regulation, which takes effect Oct. 6, will mean that patients generally must present a written prescription to receive the drug, and doctors will no longer be able to call in a prescription to the pharmacy in most instances.
Many patients with painful chronic diseases, including cancer, take hydrocodone combination products
In an emergency, doctors will still be able to call in a prescription, according to the new rule. And although prescription refills are prohibited, a doctor can, at his discretion, issue multiple prescriptions that would provide up to a 90-day supply.
These measures don’t satisfy consumer advocates or pharmacists who are opposed to the new rule. Continue reading
Fred Hutch and SCCA experts weigh in on the good, bad and ugly of the electronic cigarette quandary
By Diane Mapes / Fred Hutch News Service
“Our patients are highly motivated to quit, but they’re confused about the mixed messages of e-cigarettes,” said Donna Manders, a certified tobacco treatment specialist at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. “A lot of them believe the hype that is out there, that these must be safe because they’re being sold everywhere.”
Unfortunately, there are far more advertisements, celebrity spokesmodels (like anti-vaccine advocate Jenny McCarthy) and new brands of e-cigs than strong, evidence-based studies.
“There’s a lot of excitement but very little data,” said Jonathan Bricker, psychologist and smoking cessation researcher in the Public Health Sciences division of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “The FDA has to regulate the device before a researcher can conduct a trial on its efficacy for smoking cessation and the devices aren’t regulated yet. We’re in a Catch-22.” Continue reading
Sticking to a general rule of pouring just a half glass of wine limits the likelihood of overconsumption, even for men with a higher body mass index. That’s the finding of a new Iowa State and Cornell University study to be published in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Drug Policy.