Several articles recently addressed a study which found that providing buprenorphine after an overdose significantly increased the likelihood of individuals accessing opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment.
The current protocol for paramedics and emergency departments in treating opioid overdose is to administer naloxone in order to reverse the effects of overdose. A recently published study showed that also providing buprenorphine immediately afterward reduced withdrawal discomfort and increased outpatient addiction follow-up care.
A separate article referenced data showing a nearly six-fold increase in patients accessing outpatient addiction treatment within 30 days of the overdose event.
These are highly encouraging finds which demonstrate the far-reaching effectiveness of medication-assistance in the treatment of opioid addiction. Saving a life through overdose reversal is obviously a critical benefit, but increasing motivation for follow-up treatment is a huge step in helping addicted individuals plug into a long-term solution.
Structured treatment which utilizes medication-assistance provides so much to those aspiring to face their addiction challenges. Naloxone, buprenorphine, and methadone have saved countless lives, and these medications have provided an unrivaled opportunity for those in opioid addiction to plot a new path in life.
Minnesota officers recently seized a large quantity of fentanyl in the Midwest based on extensive investigation and “very, very good police work”.
The drug bust removed enough fentanyl pills to kill over 1 million people, and the suspected dealer now faces federal charges for possessing a large quantity of synthetic opioids.
Of particular concern was that the fentanyl doses had been pressed into a familiar pill that was indistinguishable from that provided in a typical oxycodone prescription. So oxycodone obtained on the street now presents with a much higher risk of fatal overdose than was previously thought.
The article reported that large quantities of fentanyl continue to come across the U.S. southern border. The U.S. Senate is currently examining how this influx of fentanyl is impacting American communities as drug seizures hit historic levels.
Those currently struggling in active opioid addiction should explore getting professional help as soon as possible. Fentanyl “in disguise” is making its way across the country.
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The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services has awarded $1.5 billion in an effort to support States in their fight against opioid addiction.
The grant programs will provide funding to increase access to “24/7 Opioid Treatment Programs”. $104 million will be specifically allocated to bring treatment services to rural areas of the country that have been historically underserved.
While stabilizing and rebuilding lives through medication-assisted treatment is a priority, the prevention of overdose deaths is a distinct goal of the new funding initiative. Major confiscation of fentanyl continues month to month as law enforcement authorities intercept huge quantities of the drug pouring across the southern border.
Another $20.5 million is being earmarked for the development of programs that help connect individuals with addiction issues to local community resources that can enhance their overall recovery effort.
Additional focus will be placed on increasing the availability of naloxone which is the emergency medication that can quickly reverse the effects of opioid overdose. Thousands of lives have been saved in the last 10 years through the timely administration of naloxone to those who have overdosed.
The White House report outlines further efforts to disrupt global drug trafficking through the addition of more law enforcement officers.
There are plenty of illegally manufactured medications of unknown origin currently flooding the country. In addition to heroin, methamphetamines, and other highly addictive substances, common prescriptions for managing psychiatric disorders are now accessible on the street as well.
Often these seemingly “legit” meds are manufactured outside of the U.S. where they are not subject to FDA oversight. Some of them are laced with fentanyl as is now occurring with street opiates, cocaine, and ecstasy.
Fentanyl availability is becoming widespread and creating an epidemic of accidental overdoses. News of fentanyl drug busts are being reported with increasing frequency since U.S. law enforcement and border patrol have stepped up their efforts to confiscate this deadly drug before it hits the streets.
It is important to remember that medications provided by methadone clinics and buprenorphine-approved doctors are beneficial drugs that are carefully formulated by pharmaceutical companies operating under FDA guidelines and safety checks. Please, only take medications prescribed by your doctor.
Every OTP (opioid treatment program) clinic and prescribing physician aim to custom fit the medication and dosage that will best treat your opioid use disorder. Self-medicating with drugs obtained on the street is highly dangerous. Your recovery success depends on you believing in your treatment team and relying upon their medical expertise, and their administration of safe, approved medications designed to manage your opioid withdrawal symptoms.
While it is fairly common knowledge these days, it bears repeating that fentanyl is leading to dramatic increases in drug overdose deaths. The Families Against Fentanyl group, using three years of CDC mortality data, recently concluded that fentanyl overdose had caused more deaths than the corona virus, automobile accidents, or suicide in the 18-45 age group.
Fentanyl is finding its way into other dangerous street drug combinations, and is consequently posing serious risks to both experienced and unexperienced users.
A December 2021 Wall Street Journal article mentioned that there were 100,000 fatal overdoses in the United States between April 2019 and April 2020. Fentanyl is making its way across the U.S. southern border smuggled in by Mexican drug cartels in a stream of drug trafficking that is yielding a constant challenge to U.S. law enforcement authorities.
Fortunately, community-based drug prevention programs across the country have begun including extensive discussions of the dangers of opioids and fentanyl as a common additive.
Opioid addiction in America will remain a chief concern for many more years to come. Securing local treatment and support has never been more important than it is right now.