District to distribute more naloxone to combat opioid overdoses

The District will increase its supply of naloxone, the drug used to reverse opioid overdoses, in an attempt to curb the growing number of opioid-related deaths, city officials said Friday.

The D.C. Department of Health distributed 1,000 naloxone kits in 2016 as part of a pilot program, which prevented at least 290 residents from fatally overdosing, officials said.

Continue reading District to distribute more naloxone to combat opioid overdoses

CDC Data Shows Heroin Deaths Surpass Gun Homicides

heroin deaths vs gun deathsOpioid deaths continued to surge in 2015, surpassing 30,000 for the first time in recent history, according to CDC data released Thursday.

That marks an increase of nearly 5,000 deaths from 2014. Deaths involving powerful synthetic opiates, like fentanyl, rose by nearly 75 percent from 2014 to 2015.

Continue reading CDC Data Shows Heroin Deaths Surpass Gun Homicides

Progress against Chinese chemists selling dangerous synthetic drugs in US

China’s ban on certain chemicals is being credited by Drug Enforcement Administration officials in a noticeable decrease in certain synthetic drugs in the United States.

Police encounters with six substances that were part of China’s 115-chemical ban have dropped dramatically (PDF) since it took effect in October, DEA numbers show.

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Heroin Laced with Elephant Tranquilizer Hits the Streets

Source: CNN

heroin-fentanylThe American heroin epidemic has become more dangerous, as reports of heroin laced with carfentanil are being reported throughout the country.

Carfentanil is the most potent opioid used commercially, 10,000 times stronger than morphine. It is a version of fentanyl, the painkiller that most recently made headlines with its role in the death of pop star Prince.

Many users may not know they are even taking the drug, officials have said. In July, officials in Hamilton County, Ohio, issued a public health warning (PDF) after seeing 35 overdoses, including six deaths, in a three-day period.

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A Public Example of a Growing Cultural Problem

Prince’s death earlier this year was the result of an overdose of opioids, the Associated Press reported on Thursday, citing a law enforcement official. Now confirmed by the medical examiner, Prince has just become a key example of a problem that has spiked in recent years — and that has become a key undercurrent in American politics.

At the end of 2015, the CDC released figures for that year and the trend back to 1999. Sixty-one percent of drug-overdose deaths in 2014 involved some sort of opioid, including heroin.

cdc-opiod-chart

The CDC’s report identifies the trend as an “epidemic,” with the death rate from drug overdoses doubling between 2000 and 2014.

Continue to the the Washington Post full story.

ER Visits for Heroin Overdoses Spike in Virginia

reviveVirginia’s emergency rooms are seeing a dramatic spike this year in the number of patients seeking treatment for heroin overdoses, state data shows.

The state’s emergency departments reported nearly 500 visits in the first four months of 2016 with unintentional heroin overdose as the primary complaint or diagnosis at discharge, according to data provided to The Associated Press data the Virginia Department of Health.

That’s roughly two-and-a half times the number of emergency department visits for heroin overdoses reported over the same period last year.

The actual number of emergency room trips caused by heroin overdoses is likely much higher than reported because patients often will say only that they are suffering from overdose and won’t specify what drug they were using, said Emily Stephens, enhanced surveillance analyst for the Virginia Department of Health.

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D.C. Hospitals to Test Anyone With Synthetic Drug Use Symptoms

NBC4 in D.C. reports that due to a spike in hospital visits for suspected synthetic drug overdoses, D.C. hospitals will now do blood and urine tests on anyone who appears to have taken the dangerous drugs.

The emergency rules, that went into effect the first week of August, 2015, require hospitals to collect blood and urine samples from patients who “present and have symptoms consistent with having taken a synthetic cannabinoid,” the D.C. Department of Health announced Tuesday.

The unregulated, highly addictive synthetic drugs can cause psychotic episodes, aggressive behavior and seizures, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

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