Opioid replacement drugs out of reach for many in upstate

Link to original: http://wrvo.org/post/opioid-replacement-drugs-out-reach-many-upstate#stream/0

  APR 25, 2016

When Melissa Ives was recovering from a brutal motorcycle accident, the opioid medication she was prescribed helped mask the pain. But eventually, those pills ran out so she turned to a cheaper alternative – heroin.

“I was addicted for five years,” Ives said. “I could do up to 40 bags a day of heroin and it’s just a miracle I’m not dead. I am grateful to be walking and talking.”

Ives, who lives in Fulton, attributes her recovery to the treatment she received in  Syracuse, where many drug abusers in central New York turn because there are few clinics in the area with comparable services.

One of those detoxification clinics is at Crouse Hospital, where they offer an opioid replacement called methadone. It’s administered daily under the supervision of health professionals. The hospital’s chemical dependency treatment director Monika Taylor said people from 17 counties in central New York travel to Crouse to get the daily dosage.

“Right now, we have a wait list of about 380 patients for this particular treatment,” Taylor said. “So, for the methadone program there is probably at this point a 9-12 month wait before somebody can get admitted.”

Taylor said this is not your typical wait list.

“There are definitely people that are continuing to use while they are out there waiting to get into the program and we have heard of people dying that are on the wait list.”

Conifer Park in Liverpool started sharing some of that load this month with their new methadone program, which will help alleviate the crushing demand. Conifer Park’s director of regional services Mike Kettle said Crouse and others were supportive of their efforts.

“This is something we saw a great need for, we got support from the state and the community and I truly do believe today we are going to be saving lives,” Kettle said.

Even with the two methadone clinics in Onondaga County, only 10 of the state’s 95 methadone clinics are located in upstate. That can mean long commutes for people in the 42 counties that don’t have a methadone clinic.

Federal officials are trying to expand access to another opioid replacement drug called Suboxone, which can be taken at home. But eligible doctors are currently allowed to prescribe Suboxone for only 100 patients a year. Mark Stevens, whose son was once an addict, said that’s not enough in rural areas like Oswego County where only three doctors can prescribe the drug.

“If each doctor only gives a hundred, that’s 300 people in this huge community – Oswego County,” Stevens said. “300 people, that’s all they can take care of? There’s more than 300 addicts out there.”

The U.S. Department of Health is currently in the process of raising the limit of suboxone prescriptions to 200 per year. And, central New York Congressman John Katko (R-Camillus) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have proposed a bill that would allow eligible doctors to prescribe an unlimited amount. Still, Stevens said Suboxone is only part of the answer.

“Some of these doctors that give the Suboxone keep them on it for so many years,” Stevens. “If you find a facility that will wean them off it, then they get the proper health and then educate them and keep them going.”

Those ancillary services like therapy and counseling, which are part of a holistic recovery, are also struggling to keep up with the spike in drug abuse.

Editor’s note:

Susan Craig with the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse services (OASAS) said the state is working to treat the abuse epidemic by expanding access to buprenorphine, opioid drug replacements, and other treatment services.

“The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has been actively engaged in adding more than 2,000 opioid treatment slots to its system of care, mostly in upstate NY,” Craig said in an email. “In addition, OASAS has made it possible for current opioid treatment providers to request an increase in their treatment capacity limits. Additionally, prescribers of buprenorphine in OASAS-certified opioid treatment programs are allowed to treat an unlimited number of patients, so OASAS is encouraging New Yorkers interested in buprenorphine treatment to ask their opioid treatment provider about this treatment option.”

Craig said people can find inpatient treatment services available in real time at its bed availability dashboard.

Governor Cuomo Launches Newest Phase of Statewide Campaign to Combat Synthetic Drugs and Prescription Drug Abuse

Public service announcements now airing on television and a new 33-foot billboard placed in the Bronx

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that two new public service announcements are now airing on television stations and music streaming services across the state in an effort to warn residents about the dangers of synthetic drugs and prescription opioid abuse. This is the latest in New York’s multi-pronged effort to combat drug and prescription opioid abuse.

“These PSAs spread the simple message that these drugs are harmful, addictive, and simply not worth it,” Governor Cuomo said. “This administration will continue to do everything in our power to combat opioid abuse in New York as well as take on the emerging threat of synthetic drugs in our communities.”

The first new PSA (view here) features young people who describe the serious health dangers of synthetics and advises others to stay away from synthetics. The second PSA (view here) features a young athlete explaining how a sports injury led to his addiction to pain pills with the message, “Don’t let addiction sideline your dreams.” Both PSAs are airing this month on stations across the state.

Also as part of the new campaign, a 33-foot billboard stating, “Synthetic marijuana can kill!” is now posted on 167th Street and Southern Boulevard in the Bronx (view here), and similar posters will be posted in subways, bus shelters and other locations in the New York City area. Billboards also will be posted at select malls around the state.

“New York State is at a crossroads,” Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said. “Now is the time to stamp out synthetics and to rid our communities of the harms of heroin and addiction to prescription opioids. These new campaigns bring home the message that help for addiction is available in all areas of our state and recovery from addiction is real and possible.”

The campaign aims to inform New Yorkers and push back against the following trends:

  • New York State has seen a more than an eightfold increase this year in emergency department visits (4,700 between April 1 and Sept. 3) related to adverse health effects due to synthetic drug use, including psychiatric emergencies, rapid heart rate and death.
    § 45 percent of people who used heroin were also addicted to opioid painkillers.
    § Prescription opioid admissions have risen 41 percent statewide between 2005 and 2014.

Find help below:

  • If you think someone has used a synthetic drug, call the New York State Regional Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. In a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.
  • To report the illegal sale of synthetics, call 1-888-99-SALTS.
  • New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the State’s toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (467369).

Visit www.combatheroin.ny.gov for information about addiction to heroin or prescription painkillers. For tools to use in talking to a young person about preventing alcohol or drug use, visit the State’s Talk2Prevent website.

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Additional news available at www.governor.ny.gov
New York State | Executive Chamber |press.office@exec.ny.gov | 518.474.8418

Statewide “Combat Heroin” Campaign

For Immediate Release: September 22, 2014

GOVERNOR CUOMO LAUNCHES “COMBAT HEROIN” CAMPAIGN

Campaign Features PSAs, Dedicated Website, and Social Media Awareness Efforts

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today launched “Combat Heroin,” a campaign designed to inform and educate New Yorkers about the risks of heroin and prescription opioid use, the signs of addiction, and the resources available to help.

“Heroin and opioid addiction has impacted families in every corner of our state and stolen the lives of too many New Yorkers – but today we’re taking another step forward in the fight against this serious epidemic,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Combat Heroin campaign will get the word out about the dangers of this illegal drug use, as well as the treatment and support services that are available to those who need help. Just like this year’s new law that expanded access to treatment and anti-overdose medication, this campaign is comprehensive and designed to save lives. I urge anyone who knows someone in need of help to reach out today.”

Heroin and opioid abuse have become an alarming problem in communities across New York State and the nation. In 2013, there were 89,269 admissions for heroin and prescription opioid abuse treatment in New York State alone, an increase from 63,793 in 2004. During this same time period, New Yorkers ages 18 to 24 had the largest increase in such admissions. Nationally, nearly half a million people were reportedly abusing heroin or suffering from heroin dependence in 2012.

In June 2014, Governor Cuomo signed into law a legislative package to combat this epidemic. The package included insurance reforms, new models of care to divert people into community-based treatment and to support people after they have completed treatment, allowing parents to seek assessment of their children through the PINS diversion services, and expansion of opioid overdose training and increased availability to naloxone, a medication which reverses an opioid overdose.

A critical element of the legislative package requires the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to develop and implement a public awareness and education campaign. The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, the NYS Department of Health, and the NYS Office of General Services’ Media Services Center have worked together to create a multifaceted media campaign which includes a new website that is easy to navigate and is targeted toward parents, adults, and young people who are seeking help and information concerning heroin and opioid abuse and misuse.

The website, which can be found at this link: http://combatheroin.ny.gov/, includes information about warning signs of heroin and opioid abuse and misuse, access to Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services treatment providers, and guidance to help parents talk to their children and healthcare professionals talk with their patients.

The campaign also includes four public service announcements and video messages, available on the above-linked website, from New Yorkers talking about the impact of heroin and other opioids on their lives.

Linda Ventura, founder of Thomas’ Hope and a Suffolk County mother who lost her son to a heroin overdose, said, “I am proud to have been part of the call for legislative change in NYS to help eradicate the opiate and heroin epidemic. Governor Cuomo’s campaign to address this insidious epidemic and to educate and direct families afflicted with this disease is welcomed and appreciated.”

Susan Salomone, co-founder of Drug Crisis in our Backyard and a Putnam County mother who lost her son to a heroin overdose, said, “This is the first step in stemming the tide of overdoses that are occurring in New York State. Thank you Governor Cuomo and the legislature for your acknowledgement of this as an epidemic, a disease, and your commitment to raise awareness of the critical nature of legal opiates and heroin.”

Cortney Lovell of Young People In Recovery – New York, said, “The Combat Heroin campaign is a wonderful example of what’s possible when the community recognizes a crisis, unites together to find a solution and then takes meaningful steps to make a change. With the support of Governor Cuomo, our legislators, and our state offices, this campaign will increase awareness of the invaluable resources available throughout New York State. I’m grateful to share in the message that not only is the disease of addiction prevalent, but that there is hope through recovery.”

Tatiana, a young person from New York City in long term recovery, said, “Heroin and Opiate-based narcotics almost took my life. Recovery is real and has given me true freedom. This campaign is a powerful tool that will create awareness and make a difference in the lives of the people suffering.”

Anne Constantino, CEO of Horizon Health Services/Horizon Village in Western New York, said, “The heroin epidemic in WNY has been devastating. We are grateful to the Governor for his leadership in the fight to educate the public and to bring resources and hope to struggling families. With aggressive actions we can save lives.”

Kevin M. Connally, Executive Director of Hope House Inc. in Albany, said, “Although heroin has been a problem for many years, the fact that today we are seeing teenagers who are using heroin and many are even injecting it, is extremely troubling. Use of heroin is affecting people of all ages, races and socioeconomic status. I applaud Governor Cuomo and his actions to combat the heroin epidemic.”

Outreach President Kathy Riddle said, “The opiate / heroin epidemic in New York State is ravishing our families, schools and communities. Education, intervention and treatment can save lives and prevent future innocent victims and devastated families. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership to include a public awareness campaign to raise awareness on this issue.”

Bill Bowman, Executive Director of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County, said, “We applaud the Governor’s decision to launch the Combat Heroin Public Awareness Campaign. Jefferson County, like most counties in New York State, is experiencing a severe heroin epidemic with an associated rise in drug arrests, increase in related crime, overdose calls to first responders, and overdose deaths. By bringing the reality this epidemic clearly in the eyes of New Yorkers, promoting prevention and how to access help, the Combat Heroin Campaign will surely save many lives.”

Jennifer Faringer, MS.Ed., CPPg, Director of DePaul’s National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence-Rochester Area, said, “DePaul’s National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence-Rochester Area fully enthusiastically supports the efforts of NYS OASAS and Governor Cuomo in their efforts to raise awareness around the risks of Opioids. Opioid abuse, stemming often from the misuse/abuse of prescription pain medications impacts the lives of NYS’s youth, their families and our communities! Working together in partnership we can make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers for a healthier and safer NYS!”

In addition to the Combat Heroin campaign, other initiatives being implemented include:

  • SUNY and CUNY will promote the Combat Heroin campaign on college campuses and train campus police and emergency personnel on the use of naloxone.
    · The 12 Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Addiction Treatment Centers will continue to train New Yorkers on the use of naloxone. Addiction Treatment Center staff have already trained more than 3,200 people.
    · Expand naloxone training for first responders including police officers, firefighters, sheriffs’ deputies and emergency services. Approximately 1,100 law enforcement officers have already received the life-saving training.
    · Working with community providers to train persons throughout New York State likely to witness an overdose, including professional staff, drug users and their families on overdose prevention and the use of naloxone. To date, over 170 agencies have been enrolled, 15,000 persons trained, and in excess of 1,000 overdoses reversed.
    · Create more prescription medication disposal sites across the state for New Yorker’s to safely dispose of prescription medications. Department of Health has established a statewide medication drop box program. Drop boxes are also available year round at State Police Troop Headquarters in Batavia, Unadilla, Canandaigua, Latham, East Farmingdale, Ray Brook, Oneida, Middletown and Salt Point.

People or families who need help with substance abuse can call the toll-free Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services HOPEline at 1-877-846-7369 to speak with a trained medical professional. HOPEline staff can answer questions and help people find treatment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are confidential.

To help combat heroin and prescription opioid abuse and misuse, visit www.combatheroin.ny.gov (#CombatHeroin).

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Additional news available at www.governor.ny.gov
New York State | Executive Chamber | press.office@exec.ny.gov | 518.474.8418