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Chronicle AM: DEA Cuts Prescription Opioid Production Quotas, Legal Pot Sales Keep Getting Higher, More... (10/4/16)

Treatment (STDW) - Tue, 10/04/2016 - 20:52

The campaign ads start rolling out in Maine and Massachusetts, legal pot sales keep getting higher, the DEA cuts quotas for prescription opioid manufacturing, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Legal Pot Sales Keep Going Up, Up, Up. This year is on track to be another record-setter when it comes to legal marijuana sales. A new report from the financial services company Convergex finds that sales growth at legal pot shops in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington was "impressive." Through July, Colorado has already done $458.7 million in revenues, while Washington has come in at $415.8 million through August. The Colorado figure is only 20% below the total for all of 2015, while the Washington figure already exceeds sales for all of last year. Oregon dispensaries reported $42.4 million in retail sales in June and July.

New England Legalization Initiatives Launch First TV Ads. The Question 1 campaign in Maine and the Question 4 campaign in Massachusetts both rolled out their first television ads Monday. The Massachusetts ads feature a former Boston police officer who is now a criminal justice professor, while the Maine ad also features a former law enforcement official, former Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

DEA Reduces Amount of Opioid Controlled Substances. The DEA announced Tuesday that it is reducing quotas for the amount of Schedule II opiates and opioid medications that can be produced in the US next year by 25% or more. DEA said it is responding to decreased demand for these substances, based on reduced prescribing of them. The quota has been cut by 25% for oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine, and other such medications and a whopping 66% for hydrocodone.

Thirty-Five States and DC Sue Suboxone Maker Over Price Gouging. Illinois is among the 35 states and the District of Columbia that have filed a lawsuit against the drugmaker Indivior over its maneuvers to keep a monopoly on the market for Suboxone, which is used to treat patients addicted to heroin and other opioids. The lawsuit charges that Indivior changed Suboxone from a tablet to a dissolving film only in order to get a new patent that would protect it from competition and allow it to charge exorbitant prices. The company has made over a billion dollars in annual sales every year since 2009, when the original patent was set to expire. "These companies rigged a system to ensure they profited at the expense of the people who depended on this drug to treat and recover from addiction," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in a statement.

Categories: Treatment

Powerful Coalition is Building Pressure on Feds to Think Again on Kratom Ban [FEATURE]

Treatment (STDW) - Wed, 09/28/2016 - 22:31

This article was produced in collaboration with AlterNet and first appeared here.

In a last ditch bid to stop the DEA from criminalizing an herb widely hailed for its ability to treat pain, depression, and anxiety, and help people wean themselves from more dangerous opioid pain relievers, a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to the agency Monday asking it to reconsider its decision to place kratom on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Kratom is a southeast Asian herb made from the leaves of Mitragyna speciose, a tree related to the coffee plant. In small doses, it has a mild stimulant effect, but in larger doses, it acts like a mild opioid. To be precise, the DEA has moved to criminalize not the herb itself, but two alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxmitragynine, which activate opioid receptors in the brain.

Last month, the DEA exercised its emergency scheduling powers in announcing that it was moving kratom to Schedule I, effective at the end of this week. The drug agency said kratom poses "an imminent hazard to public safety," citing only press reports of some 15 deaths linked to kratom use. But in at least 14 of those cases, the victims were also using other drugs or had pre-existing life-threatening conditions. (Meanwhile, some 25,000 people died of prescription drug overdoses last year.)

Kratom users, who could number in the millions, immediately raised the alarm, organizing campaigns to undo the decision and lobbying Congress for help. That's what sparked Monday's letter from 51 lawmakers, including 22 Republicans.

"This significant regulatory action was done without any opportunity for public comment from researchers, consumers, and other stakeholders," reads the letter, drafted by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Matt Salmon (R-AZ). "This hasty decision could have serious effects on consumer access and choice of an internationally recognized herbal supplement."

Given the ongoing high level of heroin and prescription opioid use and the associated overdose deaths, he DEA was hypocritical in mounting a campaign against kratom, the lawmakers said.

"The DEA's decision to place kratom as a Schedule I substance will put a halt on federally funded research and innovation surrounding the treatment of individuals suffering from opioid and other addictions -- a significant public health threat," they wrote.

The lawmakers called on DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg to delay the emergency scheduling and instead "engage consumers, researchers, and other stakeholders, in keeping with well-established protocol for such matters."

Since first emerging in the US a few years ago, kratom has been unregulated at the federal level, although the Food & Drug Administration began seizing shipments of it in 2014. At the state level, a half dozen states have entertained moves to ban it, but such efforts failed in all except Alabama. In other states, kratom advocates have managed to turn bans into regulation, with age restrictions and similar limits.

[image:2 align:right caption:true]A ban on kratom would be disastrous, said Susan Ash, founder of the American Kratom Association. Ash said she had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2006 and ended up essentially disabled under the weight of 13 different prescriptions, including opioids, benzodiazepines, and amphetamines (to counter the opioids and the benzos). She became addicted to the opioids and finally tried kratom as a last resort.

"I didn't really want to have anything to do with a plant, but I decided to try it, and it worked day and night," she said Tuesday. "Within two weeks, I went from home bound to starting this organization."

With the kratom ban looming, her members are facing "our darkest hour," Ash said. "Our average member is a middle-aged woman, about 40% of whom have experienced addition, and tens of thousands of them are using it as an alternative to pharmaceutical medications because they believe it is safer and more natural. Now, people are saying they are going to lose their quality of life, that they will be re-disabled. People are terrified. What we need is regulation, not prohibition."

"Despite the moral, political, and scientific consensus that drug use and addiction are best treated as public health issues, the DEA wants to subject people with kratom to prison sentences," said Jag Davies, director of communications strategy for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), which is also fighting the ban. "The DEA's move would also effectively halt promising scientific investigations into the plant's uses and medicinal benefits, including helping many people struggling with opioid addiction."

The scientific studies are promising indeed. Researchers at Columbia University just published a study on kratom alkaloids and found that they activate opioid receptors in a way that doesn't trigger respiratory depression, the lethal side effect of most opioids. Such research could lead to the "holy grail" of narcotic analgesics, a painkiller that doesn't kill users and doesn't get them addicted.

"Our research shows that mitragynine and its analogs activate the opioid receptors in a unique way compared to morphine or oxycodone," said Dr. Andrew Kruegel, one of the Columbia researchers. "They activate a certain protein pathway while avoiding other pathways, and that gives you a better safety profile, mostly for respiratory depression. The scientific data is consistent with an improved safety profile from the alkaloids and suggestive of the same with the raw plant," he explained.

"This new prohibition will really restrict our ability to purse new opioid painkillers based on alkaloids and new safer drugs for pain," Kruegel said.

And then some, DPA's Davies added.

"Placing kratom in Schedule I would place regulatory and funding barriers in front of research, drive users into the black market, and leave them facing lengthy prison terms," he said. "It's troubling that the DEA is moving hastily to criminalize kratom at the same time Congress and the president have been made sentencing reform a priority this year and when communities are grappling with unprecedented rates of heroin and opioid overdoses, the DEA is threatening to punish people for using it instead of potent pharmaceutical preparations. Kratom has a role to play in mitigating the opioid crisis."

But not if the DEA refuses to budge from its ban plan. If the DEA cannot be moved, kratom is illegal as of this coming Friday.

Categories: Treatment

Seattle Aims to Open the First Safe Injection Sites in the US [FEATURE]

Treatment (STDW) - Wed, 09/21/2016 - 21:48

Seattle and surrounding King County are on a path to establish the country's first supervised drug consumption sites as part of a broader campaign to address heroin and prescription opioid misuse. A 99-page report released last week by the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force calls for setting up at least two of the sites, one in the city and one in the suburbs, as part of a pilot project.

[image:1 align:left]The facilities, modeled on the Canadian government-funded InSite supervised injection site in Vancouver, just 140 miles to the north, would be places where users could legally inject their drugs while under medical supervision and be put in contact with treatment and other social services. There have been no fatal overdoses in the 13-year history of InSite.

Although such facilities, which also operate in various European countries and Australia, have been proven to reduce overdose deaths and drug use-related disease, improve local quality of life, and improve the lives of drug users, they remain controversial, with foes accusing them of "enabling" drug use. Thus, the report refers to them not as "safe injection sites," or even "supervised consumption sites," but as the anodyne "Community Health Engagement Locations" (CHELs).

"If it's a strategy that saves lives then regardless of the political discomfort, I think it is something we have to move forward," said County Executive Dow Constantine, discussing the plan at a news conference last week.

The safe sites will address the region's high levels of opioid and heroin use, or what the task force called "the region's growing and increasingly lethal heroin and opioid epidemic." As the task force noted, the number of fatal overdoses in the county has tripled in recent years, with the rate of death rising from roughly one a week (49) in 2009 to one very other day (156) in 2014. The current wave of opioid use appears centered on young people, with the number of people under 30 seeking treatment doubling between 2006 and 2014, and now, more young people are entering detox for heroin than for alcohol.

[image:2 align:left caption:true]Overdose deaths actually dropped last year to 132, thanks to Good Samaritan laws that shield people who aid overdose victims from prosecution and to the wider use of the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone. But that's still 132 King County residents who needn't have died. Task force members said the CHELs would help reduce that number even further.

"The heroin epidemic has had a profound effect not just on our region, but across our country as a whole," said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. "It is critical that we not only move forward with meaningful solutions that support prevention and treatment, but that we remove the stigma surrounding addiction that often creates barriers to those seeking help.

Not only are key local elected officials on board, so is King County Sheriff John Urquhart. He said the safe site plan was workable.

"As long as there was strong, very strong, emphasis on education, services, and recovery, I would say that yes, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks," he said. "We will never make any headway in the war on drugs until we turn the war into a health issue."

The region may willing to embrace this ground-breaking harm reduction measure, but it is going to require some sort of federal dispensation to get around the Controlled Substances Act and the DEA. How that is going to happen remains to be seen, but Seattle is ready.

The task force wasn't just about CHELs. In fact, the safe sites are just a small, if key, component of a broad-based, far-ranging strategy to attack the problem. The task force report's recommendations come in three categories:

[image:3 align:right caption:true]Primary Prevention

  • Increase public awareness of effects of opioid use, including overdose and opioid-use disorder.
  • Promote safe storage and disposal of medications.
  • Work with schools and health-care providers to improve the screening practices and better identify opioid use.

Treatment Expansion and Enhancement

  • Make buprenorphine more accessible for people who have opiate-use disorders.
  • Develop treatment on demand for all types of substance-use disorders.Increase treatment capacity so that it’s accessible when and where someone is ready to receive help.

Health and Harm Reduction

  • Continue to distribute more naloxone kits and making training available to homeless service providers, emergency responders and law enforcement officers.
  • Create a three-year pilot project that will include at least two locations where adults with substance-use disorders will have access to on-site services while safely consuming opioids or other substances under the supervision of trained healthcare providers.

Will Seattle and King County be able to actual implement the CHELs? Will the federal government act as obstacle or facilitator? That remains to be seen, but harm reductionists, policymakers, and drug users in cities such as Portland, San Francisco, and New York will be watching closely. There have been murmurs about getting such sites up and running there, too.

Categories: Treatment

CN BC: Ottawa Failed To Act On Tests Showing Toxins In Retail Pot

Treatment (MAP) - Wed, 09/21/2016 - 07:00
Globe and Mail, 21 Sep 2016 - Health Minister Jane Philpott's office was warned nearly a year ago that dangerous contaminants had been found in retail marijuana sold by unregulated storefront dispensaries, but the federal government appears to have done nothing to act on the concerns. Documents obtained by The Globe and Mail through the Access to Information Act show test results from a Health Canada-accredited lab were sent to the government last fall, and to Dr. Philpott's office a few months later, revealed cannabis from several Vancouver dispensaries contained pesticides and fungicides "not approved for any human use."
Categories: Treatment

CN ON: Creating Safe Injection Sites Won't Be Easy

Treatment (MAP) - Wed, 09/21/2016 - 07:00
Hamilton Spectator, 21 Sep 2016 - Drug problem 'already in everybody's backyard,' physician says Advocates of safe injection sites for intravenous drug users in Hamilton believe they face an uphill battle in gaining public acceptance for the idea. But they feel the effort is worth it. "I don't expect it will be easy. I've already had one particular communication that was rather disturbing. I'm sure it won't be the only one," said Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr, whose ward would likely end up with a site if the city allows them.
Categories: Treatment

CN ON: Health Unit To Develop Regional Drug Strategy

Treatment (MAP) - Wed, 09/21/2016 - 07:00
Northumberland Today, 21 Sep 2016 - A new coordinator has been hired to help develop a regional drug strategy, says the area medical officer of health (MOH). Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, the MOH of the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit, provided some information about the strategy to the health unit board during its most recent meeting in Port Hope.
Categories: Treatment

CN ON: Pot Store Owner Unfazed By Graffiti

Treatment (MAP) - Wed, 09/21/2016 - 07:00
The Peterborough Examiner, 21 Sep 2016 - The windows at Cannabis Culture on George St. N. were found sprayed with graffiti Tuesday morning, but supporters cleaned it up as a courtesy to the pot shop owner. Cannabis Culture has been closed since a police raid last Thursday.
Categories: Treatment

CN BC: Should We Be Pot-Production Capital Of The World?

Treatment (MAP) - Wed, 09/21/2016 - 07:00
Campbell River Mirror, 21 Sep 2016 - City council is considering allowing marijuana production facilities to set up shop in Campbell River. At its Monday meeting, council gave first and second reading to a zoning amendment bylaw that would permit industrial medical marijuana production plants in specific areas of the city.
Categories: Treatment

CN ON: Column: Safe Drug Use Sites A Way Station To Hell Or The

Treatment (MAP) - Wed, 09/21/2016 - 07:00
Hamilton Spectator, 21 Sep 2016 - Moral dilemmas, NIMBY-ism and budgets pose obstacles Coun. Donna Skelly was curious what safe injection places for drug addicts look like. So Dr. Jessica Hopkins, Hamilton associate medical officer of health, drew her attention to slides of the Insite facility in Vancouver, one of two legally operating injection sites in Canada, both in Gastown.
Categories: Treatment

CN ON: City Seeks Local Input On Injection Centres

Treatment (MAP) - Tue, 09/20/2016 - 07:00
Hamilton Spectator, 20 Sep 2016 - Crack pipes, overdose kits also get panel's OK Hamilton will join the vanguard of Ontario cities studying whether to give drug users a legal, supervised site to inject opioids such as heroin. The board of health voted Monday to study supervised injection sites - so long as the cost fits within the 2017 budget.
Categories: Treatment

US TN: Like Its Music, Nashville May Soften On Marijuana

Treatment (MAP) - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 07:00
New York Times, 19 Sep 2016 - NASHVILLE - Willie Nelson's famous habit of smoking marijuana is not seen as a badge of outlaw courage here anymore, so much as the frivolous foible of an eccentric uncle. A popular FM station disgorging the Boomer rock hits of yesteryear calls itself Hippie Radio 94.5; one of its sponsors is a smoke shop that incessantly hawks glass pipes and detox kits. Even mainstream country acts mention smoking marijuana now and again among the litany of acceptable American pastimes. So perhaps it is not surprising as much as telling that this city, which residents often refer to as the Buckle of the Bible Belt, may be on the cusp of joining the long roster of American cities, including New York, that have decriminalized the stuff.
Categories: Treatment

CN ON: Home Grown Ideas

Treatment (MAP) - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 07:00
Toronto Sun, 19 Sep 2016 - Activists want pot treated like beer, tobacco When the feds finally roll out their plan to legalize marijuana, advocates want to see home-grown weed treated like tobacco or alcohol. The Toronto Sun spoke with several cannabis advocates who cited the need for laws that allow people to grow pot at home - similar to those permitting the cultivating of tobacco or the brewing of beer for personal use.
Categories: Treatment

CN ON: Middle-Aged Adults Fuel Surge In Weed Use

Treatment (MAP) - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 07:00
Toronto Sun, 19 Sep 2016 - Pot use is on the increase among adults. A recent U.S. study found that for the first time since at least 2002, middle-aged Americans are more likely to smoke marijuana than teens. And here in Ontario, Dr. Robert Mann, of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), says they're seeing more people over the age of 18 sparking up the green, as well.
Categories: Treatment

CN ON: Biz Gone To Pot

Treatment (MAP) - Mon, 09/19/2016 - 07:00
Ottawa Sun, 19 Sep 2016 - Marijuana shops struggling with image, lack of regulation Two of Ottawa's most popular pot shops have closed after Canada Post intercepted shipments of marijuana mailed to them from B.C. Don Briere, the president of the B.C.-based Weeds Glass & Gifts chain, says he hopes his dispensaries on Bank Street and Montreal Road will reopen if he can figure out a way to ship the dried weed, cannabis-laced brownies, candy, concentrates and other merchandise across the country. Weeds buys the products from growers and "bakers" in B.C.
Categories: Treatment

US: Marijuana Makes For Slackers? Now There's Evidence

Treatment (MAP) - Sat, 09/17/2016 - 07:00
Wall Street Journal, 17 Sep 2016 - In cities like Seattle and Vancouver, the marijuana icon has become almost as common on storefronts as the Starbucks mermaid. But there's one big difference between the products on offer: A venti latte tastes the same everywhere and provides an identical caffeine rush, while marijuana stores offer the drug's active ingredients in varying combinations, potencies and formats. There is no consistency in testing, standards or labeling. This matters because marijuana's two psychoactive ingredients, tetrohydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), have contrasting effects on the brain. "THC makes you feel high," said Catharine Winstanley, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia who does research on marijuana, while CBD "is responsible for its analgesic, antiseizure and purported anticancer effects."
Categories: Treatment

CN AB: Column: Safe Injection Not A Gateway

Treatment (MAP) - Sat, 09/17/2016 - 07:00
Edmonton Sun, 17 Sep 2016 - People get twitchy when you start talking about safe injection sites. A clean, safe spot where needle drug users can use needle drugs. Vancouver's still the only spot in the country but that could be changing if the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta gets their way.
Categories: Treatment

US: Drug Use Is On Rise Among Workers

Treatment (MAP) - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 07:00
Wall Street Journal, 15 Sep 2016 - The share of U.S. workers testing positive for illicit drug use reached its highest level in a decade, according to data from millions of workplace drug tests administered by Quest Diagnostics Inc., one of the nation's largest medical-screening laboratories. Detection of illicit drugs-from marijuana to heroin to methamphetamine-increased slightly both for the general workforce and the "safety-sensitive" workforce, which includes millions of truck drivers, pilots, ship captains, subway engineers, and other transportation workers. Employers are required to test those individuals at random, as well as in specific situations such as after accidents occur.
Categories: Treatment

Chronicle AM: CA&MA Polls, Kratom Proponents Mobilize, Canada OKs Prescription Heroin; More... (9/14/16)

Treatment (STDW) - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 20:24

The polling is looking good in Massachusetts and better in California, there will be no initiative for Michigan this year, kratom proponents fight a proposed DEA ban, Canada gives the go-ahead for expanded heroin prescribing, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Marijuana Could Be a $50 Billion a Year Industry Within a Decade. A new report from financial analysts Cowen & Company says the legal weed industry could grow to a $50 billion a year business by 2026. The report notes that legalizing pot in California alone could triple the size of the industry, currently around $6 billion a year.

California: LA Times Poll Has Prop 64 at 58%. The Prop 64 legalization initiative is supported by 58% of voters, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll. Only 34% said they would vote against the measure, with 8% undecided. "It's very clear that Californians' attitudes have changed dramatically on this issue over the last several years," said Dan Schnur, director of the poll and of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. "The opposition is going to have to identify a fairly sizable source of campaign funding if this initiative is to be close," he added.

California: Eyewitness News/Southern California Newsgroup Poll Has Prop 64 at 52%. The Prop 64 legalization initiative has 52% in a new poll from Eyewitness News/Southern California Newsgroup. Some 40% said they would vote no, with 8% undecided.

Massachusetts Poll Has Legalization Initiative Up By Five Points. A new poll from WBUR TV has support for the Question 4 legalization initiative at 50%, with 45% opposed. "There's some big demographic splits, particularly along age lines," pollster Steve Koczela said. "Younger people are very much in favor of legalization, and it declines steadily as you move up the age brackets to where you get to voters who are 60-plus, and they're opposed to it by a 17-point margin."

Federal Judge Puts Final Nail in Coffin of Michigan Legalization Initiative. A federal court judge rejected a last chance effort by MI Legalize to get its legalization initiative on the November ballot. Judge Linda Parker Tuesday denied a motion from the group to stop the printing of election ballots, saying there was not enough time to stop the election process. MI Legalize gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, but some of them came outside a 180-day mandated by state law. MI Legalize challenged rulings by state officials that knocked those signatures off the tally, but lost in the state courts -- and now, in federal court.


Kratom Supporters Fight Proposed DEA Ban. Proponents of the Southeast Asian plant with mild opium-like qualities have mobilized to block the DEA proposed emergency move to place the substance on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Hundreds marched in front of the White House Tuesday and more than 120,000 have signed a petition opposing the ban, meaning the White House will have to publicly address the issue.


Canada Has Approved Prescription Heroin. The Canadian government last week quietly approved new regulations that will allow doctors to prescribe diacetylmorphine (heroin) to long-term users who have not responded to more conventional approaches to weaning them from the drug. The Crosstown clinic in Vancouver is currently the only place in the country with a heroin maintenance program, but that should now not be the case for long.

British MPs Call for Medical Marijuana. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform has called for medical marijuana to be legalized in the United Kingdom. The call comes on the heels of a report by neurologist Dr. Mike Barnes urging that marijuana be moved from Schedule I to Schedule IV on the British drugs classification scheme. "Many hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are already taking cannabis for primarily medical reasons," said MP Caroline Lucas, who co-chairs the group. "It is totally unacceptable that they should face the added stress of having to break the law to access their medicine."

Categories: Treatment

Chronicle AM: MA Init Gets Big Bucks, Chicago's West Side is Heroin "Epicenter", More... (9/12/16)

Treatment (STDW) - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 20:50

The California legalization campaign heats up, the Massachusetts legalization campaign is sitting pretty with lots of cash, a North Carolina town becomes the first in the South to adopt Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) for drug users, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

California Legalization Supporters File Complaint Against Opposition Committee. Diane Goldstein, one of the proponents for the Prop 64 legalization initiative, filed a complaint last Friday against Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action, the lobbying and campaign arm of the prohibitionist Project SAM. The complaint claims the committee misreported donations, failed to file contribution reports, and left some contribution reports incomplete, including one for Pennsylvania millionaire Julie Schauer, who gave $1.3 million the opposition.

California Highway Patrol Says It Is Neutral on Legalization Initiative. The state Highway Patrol last Friday clarified that it has not taken a position on the Prop 64 legalization initiative. The move comes after the head of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen criticized the measure for not setting a legal driving limit for the amount of THC in drivers' blood. CHP provided technical assistance to the measure's authors and is involved in implementing medical marijuana regulations signed into law last year.

Massachusetts Legalization Initiative Getting Big Bucks Backing. Supporters of the Question 4 legalization initiative have taken in more than $2.4 million since January, most of it from the New Approach PAC, a group based in Washington, DC, that is led by Graham Boyd. Groups opposing Question 4 have only raised less than $400,000, giving supporters a six-to-one funding advantage.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Report Names Chicago's West Side as "Epicenter" of State's Heroin Crisis. A new report from Roosevelt University, Hidden in Plain Sight, examines heroin arrests, hospitalizations, and deaths on the city's West Side and finds that the area accounts for one out of four hospitalizations for overdoses in the entire state. The response to rising heroin use has focused on enforcement, not treatment, said report coauthor Kathy Kane Willis. "Incarceration or arrest is an extremely ineffective and expensive way to treat a health crisis like this. We cannot arrest our way out of this problem," she said. In response to the report, state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (D-Chicago) has launched the West Side Heroin Task Force to help find evidence-based solutions to the problem.

Law Enforcement

Fayetteville, NC, Starts First Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Program in the South. This month the Fayetteville Police Department and a number of partners, including the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC), are launching a new program to divert low-level drug and sex work (prostitution) offenders to treatment instead of jail. Currently, Fayetteville faces one of the highest rates of opioid abuse in the nation. Last year alone over 500 people were arrested for drug possession in the city. Under the new law enforcement assisted diversion program (LEAD) launched this month, police officers will be able to divert eligible citizens (people with under 4 grams of drugs, no violent record, etc) to treatment providers and social services instead of funneling them through the criminal justice system, where often the cases are thrown out or people serve minimal jail time and wind up back on the streets.


Rampant Meth Use is Driving Asia's Drug War. The Philippines isn't the only country in the region waging a deadly "war on drugs." In Thailand and Myanmar, drug users are sentenced to long prison terms, while Indonesia has declared a "narcotics emergency" and resumed the execution of drug convicts. But that tough response is only likely to make things worse, experts said.

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