National Prevention Week – Day Three: Prescription & Opioid Drug Misuse

There have been a lot of conversations surrounding this subject in the last couple years. It’s no secret the United States needs to regulate the way prescription opioids are dispensed and continue to educate doctors about the dangers involved in over prescribing. SACK Coalition is fortunate to have Dr. Brent Thompson, First Light Pharmacy Director, as an active member of our coalition and is passionate about this subject.

Did you know that the population of the United States makes up just 5% of the world’s population but consumers over 80% of the opioids produced? In many countries the use of opioid prescriptions is limited to acute hospitalization and trauma (burns, surgery, childbirth and end of life care).

Big Pharma began pushing opioids in the late 90’s when new opioids became available in extended-release formulas – like OxyContin.  Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, promoted it as a miracle drug for chronic pain. One of their marketing videos has a doctor quoted as saying, “they don’t wear out; they go on working; they do not have serious medical side effects and they should be used much more than they are for patients in pain.” Reduce pain? Great! Sales of Oxy and other opioid prescriptions skyrocketed! Dr. Thompson tells the story of being on a pain committee when he first came to First Light; they were encouraging physicians to prescribe these opioids. I’ve heard him say more than once, “I’m sorry”. By 2010, overdose deaths due to prescription opioid pain relievers more than tripled in 20 years.

Opioid dependence and overdose death across the US remain at a crisis level. In the Midwest we’ve been mostly shielded by the real epidemic. Places like Seattle, central Ohio, and the southwestern US have seen some of the worst outbreaks.

What happens now? Education. Prevention. Awareness.  There continues to be more research about the risks of long term opioid treatment, ways to maximize the use of non-medical strategies for pain management, non-opioid medications, and screening tools to assess for potential medication abuse and create adequate resources to help people who develop dependence.

SACK will be hosting a showing of “Chasing the Dragon” on May 25th, 6:30 p.m. at the Paradise Theater (FREE POPCORN!) with a Q & A to follow with a panel of experts. Even if you’ve seen the movie, invite a friend or neighbor. The more we can educate people about the danger of opioids in their medicine cabinet or the addictive nature of this drug the further ahead we will be!

Click here to view the flyer for “Chasing the Dragon”

Police officer overdoses after brushing fentanyl powder off his uniform

An Ohio police officer suffered a near-fatal drug overdose after he tried to brush what was believed to be powdered fentanyl off his shirt with his bare hand, authorities said.

East Liverpool Officer Chris Green had just carried out a traffic arrest of two drug suspects on Friday night. Another officer pointed out the white substance on Green’s shirt, the same substance that was allegedly strewn about in the suspects’ car.

“Just out of instinct, he tried to brush it off — not thinking,” Police Capt. Patrick Wright told Youngstown’s WKBN-TV.

At that point, Green was no longer wearing the protective gloves and mask he’d donned to search the car for evidence, the captain said.

An hour later, Green passed out at the station.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, can enter a person’s body through inhalation and through skin contact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns.

It ultimately took four doses of the opioid antidote Narcan to revive Green, Wright said.

The East Liverpool police officer, who was described as over 200 pounds and “solid muscle,” needed four doses of the opioid antidote Narcan (a brand name for naloxone), police said.

“Chris is a big, strong guy. He’s an ex-[mixed martial arts] fighter, 220-something pounds of solid muscle, and it overtook him just like that,” Wright told WFMJ News. “If you really think about this, these drugs could be used as a weapon of mass destruction. All you have to do is walk into any room, flip it into the air and people are going to start dropping out.”

Just two milligrams of fentanyl is enough to kill a person, according to Dr. Nora Wolkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In a safety alert video released by the Drug Enforcement Administration, two New Jersey detectives describe feeling like they were “dying” after inhaling a small amount of the drug that “poofed up into the air” as a bag containing fentanyl was sealed.

“It was just a little bit … and that’s the scary thing about it,” says D. Kallen, an investigator for New Jersey’s Atlantic County Task Force. 

Wright, speaking to HuffPost on Monday morning, said Green continues to feel unwell and plans to return to a hospital for evaluation.

As for exactly what was in the powder, police said the suspects first identified the substance as cocaine. After a field test came back negative for that drug, they said it was fentanyl, WFMJ reported.

Wright told HuffPost that it could take up to a month for test results on the substance to come back. He said the two suspects will likely face additional charges related to the officer’s overdose.

“They put everyone in danger that was at the scene, in the car,” he said.

Asked about the suspects’ health, Wright said one of the men complained about a potential asthma attack and an ambulance was called. Another officer also reported feeling unwell but did not require medical treatment. Wright suggested that the suspects had a higher tolerance for the drug than Officer Green did.

Like many other police departments dealing with America’s opioid epidemic, this wasn’t the first time that the East Liverpool Police Department made news over an opioid overdose. Last September, the department’s Facebook page shared a chilling photo of a couple passed out in a car after overdosing on an opioid. A child was also in the vehicle.

The photo quickly went viral and drew controversy, with viewers expressing distress over both its graphic imagery and its disregard for the couple’s privacy.

In publishing the photo, the police department acknowledged that it could be upsetting but concluded that the tragedy of the opioid crisis should not be hidden.




2017 National Prevention Week – Tuesday, May 16

Today’s National Prevention Week Spotlight Focuses on Underage Drinking & Alcohol Misuse 

Myths vs. Facts of Alcohol Use and Misuse
Youth  see and hear a lot about alcohol—from TV, movies, music, and friends. But what are the real facts about underage alcohol use?

Myth Alcohol isn’t as harmful as other drugs. 
FACT Alcohol increases your risk for many deadly diseases, such as cancer. Drinking too much alcohol too quickly can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can kill you.

Myth Drinking is a good way to loosen up at parties. 
FACT Drinking is a dumb way to loosen up. It can make you act silly, say things you shouldn’t say, and do things you wouldn’t normally do

Myth Drinking alcohol will make me cool. 
FACT There’s nothing cool about stumbling around, passing out, or puking on yourself. Drinking alcohol also can cause bad breath and weight gain.

Myth All of the other kids drink alcohol. I need to drink to fit in. 
FACT If you really want to fit in, stay sober. Most young people don’t drink alcohol. Research shows that only about 1 out of 9 youth ages 12 to 17 used alcohol during the past month.1

Myth I can sober up quickly by taking a cold shower or drinking coffee. 
FACT On average, it takes 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to leave the body. Nothing can speed up the process, not even drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or “walking it off.”

Myth Adults drink, so kids should be able to drink, too. 
FACT A young person’s brain and body are still growing. Drinking alcohol can cause learning problems or lead to adult alcoholism. In 2013, adults who had started to drink alcohol at age 14 or younger were much more likely to be classified with alcohol dependence or abuse than adults who had their first drink at age 21 or older (14.8 vs. 2.3 percent).2

Myth Beer and wine are safer than liquor. 
FACT Alcohol is alcohol. It can cause you problems no matter how you consume it. One 12-ounce bottle of beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine (about a half cup) has as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Alcopops—sweet drinks laced with malt liquor—often contain more alcohol than beer!

Myth I can drink alcohol and not have any problems. 
FACT If you’re under 21, drinking alcohol is a big problem: It’s illegal. If caught, you may have to pay a fine, perform community service, or take alcohol awareness classes. Kids who drink also are more likely to get poor grades in school and are at higher risk for being a crime victim.

Click here to visit the “Too Smart Too Start” webpage published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration for other interactive, informative and educational information!


2017 National Prevention Week | May 14 – May 20

The three primary goals of National Prevention Week are to:

  • Involve communities in raising awareness about behavioral health issues and implementing prevention strategies;
  • Foster partnerships and collaboration with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to behavioral and public health; and
  • Promote and disseminate quality behavioral health resources and publications.

Monday, May 15 – Youth Tobacco Use Prevention

Tobacco use is still the primary cause of preventable death and disease, claiming the lives of over 6,300 Minnesota adults annually and incurring $3.2 billion annually in medical costs.

Furthermore, nearly one in five non-smoking students is repeatedly exposed to secondhand smoke, which causes early death and disease in both children and adults who do not smoke, and nearly 102,100 Minnesota youth are projected to die from smoking.

While the use of cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco has all declined, e-cigarettes are increasingly popular. Among youth, e-cigarette use is now more than double that of cigarettes.

MN Department of Health reports Minnesota’s 11th grade student’s use of e-cigarette has more than double in comparison to conventional cigarette use. In Kanabec County, 10% of 11th grade students report using an e-cigarette in the last 30 days. (2016 MSS Student Survey)


Youth use of tobacco products in any form is unsafe, irrespective of whether it is smoked, smokeless, or electronic. If cigarette smoking continues at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness. That’s about 1 of every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger alive today. (CDC)

Youth are vulnerable to social and environmental influences to use tobacco; messages and images that make tobacco use appealing to them are everywhere. 

  • Young people want to fit in with their peers. Images in tobacco marketing make tobacco use look appealing to this age group.
  • Youth and young adults see smoking in their social circles, movies they watch, video games they play, websites they visit, and many communities where they live. Smoking is often portrayed as a social norm, and young people exposed to these images are more likely to smoke.

Successful multi-component programs prevent young people from starting to use tobacco in the first place and more than pay for themselves in lives and health care dollars saved. Strategies that comprise successful comprehensive tobacco control programs include mass media campaigns, higher tobacco prices, smoke-free laws and policies, evidence-based school programs, and sustained community-wide efforts.

We all play a role in prevention. Talk to your kids. Be a positive role model.


‘Gray death’ is the latest opioid street mix causing worry

IT’S being called “gray death” — a new and dangerous opioid combo that underscores the ever-changing nature of the U.S. addiction crisis.

Investigators who nicknamed the street mixture have detected it or recorded overdoses blamed on it in Alabama, Georgia and Ohio. The drug looks like concrete mix and varies in consistency from a hard, chunky material to a fine powder.

The substance is a combination of several opioids blamed for thousands of fatal overdoses nationally, including heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil — sometimes used to tranquilize large animals like elephants — and a synthetic opioid called U-47700.

“Gray death is one of the scariest combinations that I have ever seen in nearly 20 years of forensic chemistry drug analysis,” Deneen Kilcrease, manager of the chemistry section at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said.

Gray death ingredients and their concentrations are unknown to users, making it particularly lethal, Kilcrease said. And because these strong drugs can be absorbed through the skin, simply touching the powder puts users at risk, she said.

Last year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration listed U-47700 in the category of the most dangerous drugs it regulates, saying it was associated with dozens of fatalities, mostly in New York and North Carolina. Some of the pills taken from Prince’s estate after the musician’s overdose death last year contained U-47700.

Gray death has a much higher potency than heroin, according to a bulletin issued by the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. Users inject, swallow, smoke or snort it.

Georgia’s investigation bureau has received 50 overdose cases in the past three months involving gray death, most from the Atlanta area, said spokeswoman Nelly Miles.

In Ohio, the coroner’s office serving the Cincinnati area says a similar compound has been coming in for months. The Ohio attorney general’s office has analyzed eight samples matching the gray death mixture from around the state.

The combo is just the latest in the trend of heroin mixed with other opioids, such as fentanyl, that has been around for a few years.

Fentanyl-related deaths spiked so high in Ohio in 2015 that state health officials asked the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to send scientists to help address the problem.

The mixing poses a deadly risk to users and also challenges investigators trying to figure out what they’re dealing with this time around, said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Republican.

“Normally, we would be able to walk by one of our scientists, and say ‘What are you testing?’ and they’ll tell you heroin or ‘We’re testing fentanyl,’” DeWine said. “Now, sometimes they’re looking at it, at least initially, and say, ‘Well, we don’t know.’”

Some communities also are seeing fentanyl mixed with non-opioids, such as cocaine. In Rhode Island, the state has recommended that individuals with a history of cocaine use receive supplies of the anti-overdose drug naloxone.

These deadly combinations are becoming a hallmark of the heroin and opioid epidemic, which the government says resulted in 33,000 fatal overdoses nationally in 2015. In Ohio, a record 3,050 people died of drug overdoses last year, most the result of opioid painkillers or their relative, heroin.

Most people with addictions buy heroin in the belief that’s exactly what they’re getting, overdose survivor Richie Webber said.

But that’s often not the case, as he found out in 2014 when he overdosed on fentanyl-laced heroin. It took two doses of naloxone to revive him. He’s now sober and runs a treatment organization, Fight for Recovery, in Clyde, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) southeast of Toledo.

A typical new combination he’s seeing is heroin combined with 3-methylfentanyl, a more powerful version of fentanyl, said Webber, 25. It’s one of the reasons he tells users never to take drugs alone.

“You don’t know what you’re getting with these things,” Webber said. “Every time you shoot up you’re literally playing Russian roulette with your life.”

View Source

Positivity in the Park!

Positivity! It is something we hear often. “Accentuate the Positive”, “Stay Positive”, “Focus on the Positive”, but what is positivity? Is it encouraging? Is it expressive? Is positivity a feature or characteristic? Maybe for you it’s all of those things, and maybe it means more. Each of us have our own way of creating positivity in our lives, most of us would agree that positive attitudes, or positive influences, make the way we feel about ourselves and our surroundings better.

In mid-March members of the Mora High Schools Above the Influence (ATI) group began working on ways to change the stigma associated with the Library Park. They met with local law enforcement officials, the City of Mora Park and Recreation Board, East Central Regional Library Director, and other community members to identify ways in which they could improve the negativity the park has been associated with over the last several years. The culmination of their ideas and feedback they received, led them back to the word “positivity”!  Inviting positive elements to the park on a consistent basis by encouraging positive behavior with activities was one of the most economical ways they identified. They felt that positive activities happening more often in the park would effectively create a better atmosphere and to encourage children and families to utilize Library Park more frequently.  

To kick off their “Positivity Initiative” the ATI students and SACK are hosting the first, “Positivity in the Park” event from 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17th. In addition to a FREE meal (hot dogs, fruit, chips, and a beverage), there will be games and activities from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.  Activities will include: basketball games, free throw contest, sidewalk art, yoga, face painting, volleyball games and instruction, music, food, and FUN! There will be other community partners involved, sharing their message and plans for other positive park events.

The mission of the Substance Abuse Coalition of Kanabec County (SACK) is to promote better choices in the community through collaborative partnerships that will help reduce substance use among youth and residents in Kanabec County. SACK envisions a community of people who embrace and enjoy life fully, and who reject the cultural pressure to abuse alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Mora High Schools Above the Influence (ATI) and Ogilvie Schools We Act Now (OWN It!) youth groups add an influential role in helping to accomplish SACK’s vision. Essential partners in SACK’s success in primary youth prevention are the youth groups in both Mora and Ogilvie schools. They discuss ways students can stay substance free, ways they can promote and make better choices and ways to become community stewards in preventing substance use and abuse.

We are Better Together, and together we can bring positivity back to the Library Park!