Opioid Treatment Program Helps Keep Families Together

Velva Poole has spent about 20 years as a social worker, mostly in Louisville, Ky. She’s seen people ravaged by methamphetamines and cocaine; now it’s mostly opioids. Most of her clients are parents who have lost custody of their children because of drug use. Poole remembers one mom in particular.

“She had her kids removed the first time for cocaine. And then she had actually gotten them back,” she says. But three months later, the mother relapsed and overdosed on heroin.

“She had to go through the whole thing all over again — having supervised visits with the kids, then having overnights,” Poole recalls. Starting again from the bottom, the mom took steps to reclaim her life.

And, eventually, she did regain custody of her children. Poole recently ran into the woman at the grocery store.

Full story at npr.org

Crack Cocaine Increasingly Laced With Fentanyl

A Philadelphia hospital is reporting a spike in the number of patients who are being treated in the emergency room for overdoses from crack cocaine laced with fentanyl. Experts say fentanyl is being mixed with a number of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and ketamine.

In a recent four-day period, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania treated 18 patients for an apparent overdose of crack cocaine laced with fentanyl, HealthDay reports. Three of the patients died from their overdose, the researchers report in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.

Full story at drugfree.org

Racial disparities in prescribing opioids for chronic pain

Yale researchers have identified racial disparities in the treatment of patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain. Black patients who receive opioids long-term are more likely than whites to be tested for illicit drug use. Of those who test positive, blacks are more likely to have their opioid prescriptions discontinued, said the researchers.

More than 40% of opioid overdose deaths in the United States are attributed to prescription opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and Percocet. Efforts to curb the crisis have focused in part on limiting opioid overprescribing. Less attention has been paid to how providers monitor and treat patients once opioids are initiated.

The Yale-led research team analyzed data from the electronic health records of more than 15,000 patients who received opioids from the Veterans Administration between 2000 and 2010. The researchers reviewed whether patients were screened for illicit drug use after starting opioids, which is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also looked at whether opioids were discontinued in those who tested positive for either marijuana or cocaine.

Full story at Science Daily

Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine Becoming A Deadly Problem Among Drug Users

A pipe was the only sign of drug use found near Chris Bennett’s body in November. But it looked like the 32-year-old Taunton, Mass., native had stopped breathing and died of an opioid overdose. Bennett’s mother, Liisa, couldn’t understand what happened. Then she saw the toxicology report.

“I’m convinced he was smoking cocaine that was laced,” she says. “That’s what he had in his system, [it] was cocaine and fentanyl.”

Liisa Bennett was shocked. Chris had developed an addiction to pain pills and then heroin in his late teens but had not used opioids for at least 10 years, as far as she knew. Bennett had warned her son that if he ever used opioids again, he’d be in greater danger of an overdose because fentanyl, an opioid drug more powerful than heroin, was mixed into much of the supply.

Full story at npr.org

One in 10 people have traces of cocaine or heroin on their fingerprints

Scientists have found that drugs are now so prevalent that 13 per cent of those taking part in a test were found to have traces of class A drugs on their fingerprints — despite never using them.

But there is no easy escape for users as researchers from the University of Surrey, who have previously developed a quick fingerprint test to identify users, have created a definitive way to prove the difference between those using cocaine and heroin, and those exposed to the drugs due to environmental factors.

In a study published by Clinical Chemistry, researchers from the University tested the fingerprints of 50 drug free volunteers and 15 drug users who testified to taking either cocaine or heroin in the previous 24 hours.

Full story at Science Daily