Key Democrats backing Christie’s ‘second-chance’ laws

By Bob Jordan

Chris Christie Second Chance LawsTRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie, in his State of the State address last week, called for “second-chance” laws, giving substance abusers an opportunity for treatment ahead of jail time. The Republican governor received support from key Democratic lawmakers Monday.

Sens. Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, and Sandra Bolden Cunningham, D-Hudson, announced a package of bills they’re sponsoring to reform segments of the state’s criminal justice system and provide for rehabilitation of offenders.

One of the bills (S-881) amends the existing statute to give judges and prosecutors additional discretion to admit certain offenders into a “drug court” program to emphasize substance abuse treatment over incarceration.

Full story at My Central Jersey

Is just not drinking or drugging enough? | MENTAL HEALTH

By Vikki Adams

Stop Drinking & DruggingWhen substance abuse touches many families, the family just “wants it to stop,” but is that really enough?

Depending on how much and how often an individual has been using drugs and alcohol (including the perceived legal ones such as over-the-counter or prescription drugs, Herbal Incense, K-2 and bath salts), discontinuing use may not be as easy as it seems.

Post Acute Withdrawal may occur if the individual had slipped into dependency, which may result in a myriad of symptoms including problems with sleep, irritability, loss of memory, loss of concentration. It can possibly create physical repercussions such as seizures or feeling that you have had the worst flu in your life. These symptoms can sometimes last for weeks or even months.

If the individual was using as a way to cope with emotions or stressful situations, they will now be facing the same situations with no substance to “dull the pain.” Oftentimes the situation they were dealing with has worsened due to their drug or alcohol use and lack of attention.

Full story at Evansville Courier & Press

Patient safety is key when it comes to opioid abuse

By Richmond County Medical Society

Opioid Drug AbuseThe management of any patient’s pain is highly individualistic. This is due, in part, to the difficulty involved in defining someone’s pain and the actual goals of therapy.

The management of chronic pain occurs within the broader context of health care, including psychosocial function and quality of life. There are multimodal and multidisciplinary interventions that use more than one therapy in their approach to treating those with chronic pain.

However, we suddenly are confronted with a major public health issue in our country: The abuse of opioid medications. According to the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, 2.4 million Americans ages 12 years and older initiated non-medical use of prescription pain medication in 2004, and an estimated 31.8 million have done so during their lifetime.

In 2001, there were more emergency room admissions for complications related to narcotic analgesic use than for heroin use. By 2004, emergency room visits resulting from narcotic pain reliever abuse had increased 163 percent since 1995.

Full story at silive.com

Mental illness, drug abuse costs Oklahomans billions of tax dollars

By Sonya Colberg

Mental Health Tax Costs HighA somber group settled down seven years ago to consider why substance abuse and two hush-hush subjects consume thousands of Oklahomans’ lives and billions of taxpayers’ dollars.

Many members of the Oklahoma Governor’s and Attorney General’s Blue Ribbon Task Force had personally seen the tragedies of untreated substance abuse, mental illness and domestic violence. The group of 15 hung on to the hope that, over about a year, they would come up with recommendations to save Oklahoma lives and money.

A team of nine researchers — the principal investigator jokingly called his team high-priced accountants on a $200,000 contract — plunked down their shocking research before the Task Force.

“It was a crisis then. I’d say it’s a crisis level now,” said state Health Secretary Terry Cline, a task force member.

Drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness and domestic violence cost the state $3.4 billion in 2005, the report showed.

Full story at NewsOK

Painkillers now deemed most dangerous drugs

By Courtney Vaughn

Painkiller AddictionMORONGO BASIN — The newest health epidemic isn’t something you catch from others, and there is no vaccine for it, but it’s available at your local pharmacy.

A federal health agency is reporting a spike in prescription painkiller abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription pill abuse kills more people annually than heroin and cocaine combined. 

“Prescription painkiller overdoses killed nearly 15,000 people in the U.S. in 2008. This is more than three times the 4,000 people killed by these drugs in 1999,” a CDC report states. The findings led the agency to declare the issue a public health epidemic.

In 2010, 12 million Americans surveyed by the CDC said they used prescription painkillers for non-medical purposes within the last year.

Painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin are opiates. In addition to adverse health effects, they can become highly addictive.

“Along with changes to the body’s organs from abuse of painkillers, there are also psychological and psychosocial implications,” Donna Johnson, the registered nurse who directs emergency services at Hi-Desert Medical Center, said. “The medication becomes the center of the addict’s life, and the pursuit of more medication to feed the addiction.” 

Full story at The Desert Trail