addiction

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Over the last four years, local emergency departments saw a 50 percent increase in opioid overdoses. Often, it's hospital emergency rooms that treat people who are suffering from chronic pain. Now, Connecticut hospital ERs are looking at ways to manage pain but also prevent the abuse of prescription painkillers.

Several medical associations in Connecticut have endorsed voluntary guidelines for local emergency departments to reduce the inappropriate use of opioids.

Carl Schiessl, Director of Regulatory Advocacy with the Connecticut Hospital Association, said directors of emergency rooms gather monthly at CHA. He said it was at one of those meetings where the idea for the guidelines came up. 

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According to a new Yale study, addiction is a chronic disease that is treated like an acute illness. But what if we treated it differently, with longer-term goals? 

Earlier this year, the heroin epidemic in this country was front and center. It's not in the headlines anymore, but that doesn't mean the problem of opioid addiction, fueled by abusing prescription drugs or heroin, has gone away.

Torrington received a lot of attention for the number of overdose deaths there in 2013.  Late last year, community stakeholders came together to form the Litchfield County Opiate Task Force. One of the task force's biggest initiatives to combat the problem throughout the entire county was the creation of a community case manager to work at the local hospital.

Meds to Alleviate Stress May Help Women Smokers Quit

Sep 2, 2014
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For the last 50 years, men have consistently had an easier time quitting smoking than women. More men go cold turkey. More men stop on nicotine blockers like gum and patches. More men succeed on medications. Sherry McKee, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, thinks she may know why.

Tobacco control advocates disagree on whether e-cigarettes are a useful tool to get smokers off tobacco, or just a sleeker form of one of the world's deadliest addictions.

A lot of that discord comes from the fact that there's just not enough science to know the risks and benefits of e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine in a vapor rather than through tobacco smoke. And it could take years to find out if vaping causes cancer and other deadly diseases.

CVS Caremark will be joining Walgreens in allowing pharmacists to dispense a life-saving antidote for drug overdoses, without a prescription. That means that soon Narcan will be much more widely available throughout the state.

Rhode Island Hospital drug abuse epidemiologist Traci Green has been working with a statewide overdose prevention task force to get Narcan – also known as naloxone—into as many hands as possible. The drug can rescue someone who has overdosed on an opioid like heroin or prescription painkiller OxyContin.

In the wake of at least nine fatal drug overdoses in Worcester in less than a week, the city is taking the problem into its own hands by trying to get those struggling with addiction the help they need.

Underneath the charm of Martha's Vineyard's picturesque beaches, peaceful woods and luxury homes is a problem: Since August, there have been six overdose deaths on the island.

"That's a phenomenal rate for a community of 16,000 people — and that's not to mention the overdoses that haven't been fatal," says Charles Silberstein, an addiction specialist and psychiatrist at Martha's Vineyard Hospital. "We've had overdoses for years, but I don't think we've ever seen this kind of number or frequency."

Cigarette smoking among U.S. high school students has dropped to the lowest level in 22 years, federal health officials reported Thursday.

The percentage of students who reported smoking a cigarette at least one day in the last 30 days fell to 15.7 percent in 2013, according to the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a large federal survey that has been tracking youth smoking since 1991.

For the first time ever, New England's governors will hold a summit to develop common strategies to deal with the region’s growing opiate addiction problem.  

In the last six months, Vermont’s growing opiate problem has received a lot of national attention but it turns out that most of the other New England states are also experiencing similar situations.

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The Food and Drug Administration will now require tanning beds carry a warning label saying they shouldn't be used by persons under the age of 18. Tanning beds emit UV radiation that may cause skin cancer. But the beds may also cause changes to the brain.

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a rare memo calling on more first responders to carry Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of opiate overdoses. Connecticut held its first-ever "overdose prevention summit" on Thursday to explore ways to expand Narcan's reach. 

Heroin was once the scourge of the urban poor, but today the typical user is a young, white suburbanite, a study finds. And the path to addiction usually starts with prescription painkillers.

A survey of 9,000 patients at treatment centers around the country found that 90 percent of heroin users were white men and women. Most were relatively young — their average age was 23. And three-quarters said they first started not with heroin but with prescription opioids like OxyContin.

A key government panel Tuesday voted unanimously against approval of a powerful opioid prescription painkiller intended to provide faster relief with fewer side effects.

At the conclusion of a hearing, the Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted 14-0 against recommending that the agency approve Moxduo, the first drug to combine morphine and oxycodone into one capsule.

New Haven Independent Melissa Bailey

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy held a roundtable forum on Thursday about how to deal with the heroin problem in Connecticut. Senator Blumenthal described the situation as an "epidemic and [a] scourge." 

Heroin use is rising at an alarming rate here in Connecticut and in the northeast. According to U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty, 257 state residents have died from heroin overdoses, many in her district, which covers Torrington and Waterbury. Thursday, Esty met with the mayors of those two cities, along with law enforcement and public health professionals to explore options to combat the problem. 

I was fighting a rat for the remnants of a corn dog I'd salvaged from the trash. That's when I realized I'd crossed the final line I had drawn.

I had told myself, as long as I don't shoot up, I'm OK. As long as I'm not homeless, I'm OK. But now I was shooting up and homeless, and there was nowhere left to draw. I had reached the bottom line of my existence.

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The U.S. is in the middle of a heroin epidemic. It’s something that has become increasingly problematic in northeastern states like Connecticut. This hour, a panel of local reporters and health experts from Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts share their stories. 

We also hear about a controversial decision by the state Department of Children and Families to transfer a transgender teenager to one of Connecticut’s adult prisons, even though, as we’ve discussed on the show, the state now has a “locked” facility for girls like her. WNPR’s Lucy Nalpathanchil joins us with more on that story.

Lucy Nalpathanchil

In 2012, a legislative committee found seven percent of Connecticut adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 had substance abuse issues. And the majority of those who needed treatment did not receive it.

In the last story of a three-part series, WNPR reports on the challenges families encounter with their insurance plans when seeking help for their teenage son or daughter.

Rushford

One out of every 22 Connecticut high schoolers has taken medication such as painkillers that weren’t prescribed for them, according to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health. In the second of a three-part series, WNPR looks at treatment options available for local teens with substance abuse issues.

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

A big increase in opiate overdoses nationwide has focused attention on substance abuse. Nine out of ten adults suffering from addiction said they began using drugs or alcohol when they were adolescents.

In the first of a three-part series on youth battling addiction, WNPR introduces you to the Harmons of Guilford.

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy joined health advocates, law enforcement, and local service providers today to talk about the growing heroin problem in Connecticut. 

Hartford Police Department

Hartford police said heroin-related overdoses are on the rise in the capital city, and they're trying to disrupt the drug's supply. Earlier this week, police arrested five people, and seized 2,000 bags of heroin. 

Bludgeoner86 on Flickr Creative Commons

There's widespread attention on an increase in heroin overdoses nationwide. On Monday, U.S Attorney General Eric Holder called it an "urgent public health crisis" and suggested law enforcement carry Narcan or naloxone, a drug that can reverse opiate overdoses. 

Mark Wragg/iStock / Thinkstock

Over the last six years, heroin use nationwide has nearly doubled. In Connecticut, attention has focused on the city of Torrington, where there are reports of multiple fatalities last year from heroin overdoses. 

Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

This Sunday Conversation with Ruben Castaneda was inspired by WAMU's five-part series, "Crack: The Drug that Consumed the Nation's Capital."

When Ruben Castaneda first moved to Washington, he lived his life along two separate tracks.

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Heroin use is on the rise in Connecticut and nationwide. According to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, heroin arrests and seizures in the northeast outpace the rest of the country, two to one.

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To some it’s "smack"; to others, it’s "tar." But the majority of us know it as heroin, the dangerously addictive opioid drug that has claimed countless lives across the nation. 

Less than a week ago, 46-year-old actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died from a heroin overdose in his Manhattan apartment. Sadly, he’s just one of many creative minds lost to addiction. Singer-songwriter Janis Joplin was 27 when an overdose took her life. Frankie Lymon was 25.

But heroin isn’t just a celebrity drug. Its use spans the country -- particularly in northeast states, like Connecticut, where it has become a growing problem among teens and adults.

Saturday marks an important milestone in public health – the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health.

Few if any documents have had the impact of this one — both on the amount of disease and death prevented, and on the very scope of public health.

Stagophile / Creative Commons

Fairfield University has opened the state’s first off-campus home for college students recovering from alcohol or drug addiction. The university's Recovery House differs from other substance-free college housing because it’s designed specifically for students who are actively trying to stay sober.

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