Klobuchar Pushes For Support On Bills Aiming To Curb Opioid Abuse

New figures show a dramatic jump in opioid deaths in the Twin Cities. At the same time, federal lawmakers are pushing for new measures to keep an especially lethal opiate from coming into the country. The new figures released by prominent Twin Cities drug abuse consultant Carol Falkoswki show opioid related overdose deaths in Hennepin County alone rose 57 percent — from 97 deaths in 2015 to 153 deaths in 2016.

As bad as that is, authorities are warning it could get worse. That’s because of a small but growing number of deaths in Minnesota from carfentanil. The synthetic opioid is 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, the opioid that killed Prince.

Top local and federal officials, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, highlighted the gravity of the situation at a news conference Monday. They outlined a series of measures to reign in the growing crisis.

In a tour of United Hospital’s emergency room in St. Paul, Sen. Klobuchar got a lesson in administering the lifesaving opioid antidote Narcan. Klobuchar helped write a bill in the Senate aimed at the latest opioid threat: closing  a loophole that allows a synthetic opioid called carfentanil to enter the country via the United States post office.“It’s tough to overstate the urgency of the crisis and the need for action,” Klobuchar said.

A tiny amount of carfentanil — smaller than a penny — is enough to sedate an elephant. A microscopic amount can kill humans, and is already being blamed for five deaths in Minnesota. “Individuals that are trafficking in this drug are pedaling death. There is no way to sugarcoat it,” Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Ken Solek said.

Another Klobuchar bill would create a mandatory opioid registry to curb a wide-scale practice known as “opioid doctor shopping.”  “I met a rehab guy up in Moorhead that had a patient that had 108 different opioid prescriptions from 85 different doctors in 50 different towns,” Klobuchar said.

Lexi Reed Holtum is herself a recovering addict and the executive director of the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation. She says doctors and patients need to know anyone can get hooked.“One third of the people who are prescribed opioids become addicted to them,” she said.

Klobuchar’s registry would require states to share information from their registries to cut down on doctor shopping. In the example she mentioned, that patient was getting prescription in at least five different states, including Minnesota. The senator is optimistic both her bills will eventually pass because they have bipartisan support. Klobuchar also says she’s hopeful that President Trump, who talked about the opioid scourge on the campaign trail, will also be supportive.

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Drug overdoses now kill more Americans than guns

CBS News AP / December 9, 2016, 11:44 AM

More than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year — the most ever.

The disastrous tally has been pushed to new heights by soaring abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers, a class of drugs known as opioids.

Heroin deaths rose 23 percent in one year, to 12,989, slightly higher than the number of gun homicides, according to government data released Thursday.

HealthNew approaches to pain and addiction amid America’s opioid epidemic
CBS News examines the pathway from pain to prescription painkillers and addiction, while opioid related overdose deaths continue to climb.

Deaths from synthetic opioids, including illicit fentanyl, rose 73 percent to 9,580. And prescription painkillers took the highest toll, but posted the smallest increase. Abuse of drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin killed 17,536, an increase of 4 percent.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this. Certainly not in modern times,” said Robert Anderson, who oversees death statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new numbers were part of the agency’s annual tally of deaths and death rates in 2015.

Overall, overdose deaths rose 11 percent last year, to 52,404. By comparison, the number of people who died in car crashes was 37,757, an increase of 12 percent. Gun deaths, including homicides and suicides, totaled 36,252, up 7 percent.

As part of its annual report, the CDC also found that rates for 8 of the 10 leading causes of death rose last year, causing the nation’s life expectancy to go down for the first time in more than 20 years. Drug overdoses were a significant factor, but an unexpected increase in the death rate from heart disease, the nation’s No. 1 killer, was another major reason.

Source:  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/drug-overdose-deaths-heroin-opioid-prescription-painkillers-more-than-guns/


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Experts: Government Should Call on Naloxone Makers to Reduce Costs

By Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
December 8th, 2016

The government should call on manufacturers of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone to reduce the cost of the life-saving drug, experts write in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.

Rising naloxone prices may threaten attempts to reduce opioid-related deaths, researchers from Yale University and the Mayo Clinic warn. “The challenge is as the price goes up for naloxone, it becomes less accessible for patients,” Ravi Gupta, the study’s lead author, told HealthDay.

The researchers suggested a number of strategies to lower naloxone prices, including encouraging generic competition, buying in bulk and importing generics from international manufacturers. The government could also invoke a federal law that allows it to contract with a manufacturer to produce cheaper versions. The Food and Drug Administration could make naloxone an over-the-counter drug, the researchers noted.

Source: http://www.drugfree.org/news-service/experts-government-call-naloxone-makers-reduce-costs/

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Holidays for those in Early Recovery

How to Navigate the Holidays in Early Recovery

By Erin Goodhart

December 8th, 2016

With the holiday season upon us, many of us look forward to get-togethers with friends and family, and work celebrations with colleagues. From the smell of holiday cookies baking to hearing carols in stores, we’re primed to be in a holiday mood. But the season can also bring stress. Attending or planning holiday events can be exhausting and we often have high expectations that don’t always align with reality. For someone in early recovery – and their family members – it can be an especially stressful time.

Here are tips for those in early recovery on how to navigate the holidays.

For those in early recovery:

• Isolation is not beneficial for someone in early recovery. Even if you’re not in the mood to attend a holiday party, surround yourself with people who are healthy and sober. Attend a meeting, call a sponsor, or find supportive friends and family.

• Plan ahead for get-togethers. The combination of alcohol and family dynamics can be challenging. Consider an exit strategy or a safety plan if alcohol is being served or if you feel anxious at these events.

• Don’t plan to stay for the entire time if it’s going to make you uncomfortable. It’s fine to bring a friend as sober support or to call someone from a support group if you need to talk.

• Don’t stress if someone offers you a drink. It’s perfectly OK to just say no, without explanation. You can also keep a glass of water in your hand at all times.

• Remember that putting your sobriety first is your priority. You don’t have to accept every invitation. Spend time with sober friends instead, or create a new tradition like volunteering at a soup kitchen.

For families with loved ones in early recovery:

• We encourage you to be supportive and proactive about your family member’s recovery. You can reach to them in a way that lets them know you trust them with their own recovery but that you are there for them if needed. You don’t want to be controlling. Make them feel included in plans and if you know they are struggling, suggest they attend a meeting or call a sponsor.

• If you’ll be seeing relatives who don’t know your family member has just completed treatment, prepare beforehand as to who will communicate the information in a way your family member is comfortable.

• Remember to also take care of yourself this time of year. You may want to attend your own meeting to stay connected with other families with similar experiences. It will help to be around people who understand what you’re going through.

It’s important for individuals and families in early recovery to keep open communication with each other so everyone can enjoy the holidays together. Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!

Erin Goodhart, Director of Women’s Services
Caron Treatment Centers

Source:  http://www.drugfree.org/news-service/commentary-navigate-holidays-early-recovery/

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‘High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas’ Labeled in Minnesota

5 Minnesota Counties Labeled ‘High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas’

October 19, 2016 06:42 PM

New help is coming to the Twin Cities in the fight against drugs.  Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka, Dakota and Washington counties are being designated as “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas” by the White House, also know as HIDTA’s.

That designation opens the door to federal resources that will help coordinate drug control efforts among law enforcement.

Law enforcement won’t sugar coat it, drug abuse is a growing problem in Minnesota.

“572 overdose deaths in Minnesota in 2015 alone,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.  That’s an 11 percent increase over 2014.

But now, there is help.

The designation alone means immediately resources are multiplied.

“It’s bad news for the bad guys they’re not going to like it at all,” said Stanek.

It also means the five metro counties join Wisconsin’s HIDTA, and together could get more than $5 million from the feds to help fight drug abuse.

“We will be interconnected, we will know about things that are happening all the way in Chicago, to the southern borders, all across the country,” said Stanek.

“We can only prosecute people if cases are presented well, this will give resources and dollars to go after some of the kingpins and the big drug folks,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.  “We need to do everything we can to get ahead of this problem,” said Carol Falkowski, a state drug expert. 

“We have never had such a serious drug abuse problem in this state. Many people think Minnesota is Lake Wobegon and we’re somehow immune, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Falkowski said.

She says the drug problem affects everyone from law enforcement to public health and social services.

As to when we can see results?

“I would say immediately, immediately you will see results, because you will have that additional layer of cooperation between all the agencies,” said Ken Solek with the DEA. Sheriff Stanek says Minnesota has been asking for years to get this designation, and get access to these federal dollars. After being denied many times, he says they are very excited to be a part of this now.

Source:  http://kstp.com/news/minnesota-counties-high-intensity-drug-trafficking-areas-white-house-hennepin-ramsey-anoka-dakota-washington/4296043/

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Community Mobilization Event @ North Branch


Hazelden Publishing will be hosting a community mobilization event in North Branch, MN. It is free and open to the public.

November 18, 2016 
Registration begins at 8:00
Event hours: 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m
Lunch will be served
Trinity Lutheran Church
38460 Lincoln Trail
North Branch, MN 55056
Capacity is limited- Register in advance to reserve your seat.

Please click here to see attached invitation for full details
or click here for the registration link.

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