A powerful drug that's normally used to tranquilize elephants is being blamed for a record spike in drug overdoses in the Midwest. Officials in Ohio have declared a public health emergency, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says communities everywhere should be on alert for carfentanil.
The synthetic opioid is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, the prescription painkiller that led to the death earlier this year of the pop star Prince. Fentanyl itself can be up to 50 times more deadly than heroin.
Why are some people more susceptible to addiction than others? How does genetic makeup influence a person’s chances of becoming an addict? This hour, we find out how researchers at Yale University and The Jackson Laboratory are working to better understand the science of addiction.
When Phillip decided to stop using heroin, he knew sticking around home was a recipe for failure.
"It's just, like, a heroin epidemic on Long Island where I'm from. So I had to get away from that and now I'm in Prescott, Ariz.," Phillip says. NPR agreed not to use his last name because he is struggling with addiction and fears it might hurt his chances of future employment.
Some arrive on their own, worried about what was really in that bag of heroin. Some are carried in, slumped between two friends. Others are lifted off the sidewalk or asphalt of a nearby alley and rolled in a wheelchair to what's known as SPOT, or the Supportive Place for Observation and Treatment, at the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.
Connecticut officials have responded to the state’s opioid epidemic with solutions like expanded access to overdose prevention kits at pharmacies, and limitations on pain killer prescriptions. But much of the fight to save lives is taking place after business hours, and in the most directly affected communities.
To say that Pam Livengood made an impression on Hillary Clinton’s campaign might be an understatement.
The Keene resident first met Clinton last year, on the candidate’s first campaign visit to New Hampshire. At the time, she spoke up about how her family’s been affected by the state’s substance abuse crisis – she took over guardianship of her grandson a few years ago because of issues stemming from her daughter's drug addiction.
Governor Dannel Malloy recently signed legislation that would expand Connecticut’s effort to combat the opioid epidemic. At the same time, he announced a partnership with a team of doctors from Yale University to help develop a strategic plan.
Stamford’s Purdue Pharma, the company that makes the controversial painkiller Oxycontin, has responded to a damning article in The LA Times that accused Purdue of turning a blind eye to abuse of the powerful opioid.
For lawmakers looking to address the crisis of drug addiction and overdose, limiting access to prescription painkillers and increasing availability of opioid-reversal drugs like naloxone have been two major policy points. A legislative push in Connecticut now aims to expand access to treatments as well.
Emergency rooms all over the country are seeing a huge surge in the number of people being brought in after overdosing on opioids or heroin. There’s no doubt this is a disruption for staff and a strain on resources. But one Connecticut hospital has decided this point of contact with the opioid epidemic actually represents a huge opportunity.
A new law aimed at combating Connecticut’s opioid and heroin epidemic will go into effect on July 1, 2016. The legislation, Public Act 16-43, has been described as one of the most comprehensive opioid laws in the country and includes several key provisions -- among them: a seven-day limit on all first-time, non-chronic pain opioid prescriptions.
For some patients looking to break their addiction to heroin or prescription painkillers, there's a drug out there that works. It’s called Suboxone, but government regulations and individual doctors have made it difficult to get, which is leading many to buy it illegally.
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, both Democrats from Connecticut, met with public health officials and law enforcement in Stamford on Tuesday for a forum on the opioid and heroin epidemic. Himes says the epidemic is affecting more well-off communities, like Stamford, and he asked how Connecticut could use emergency federal funds to fight it.