Opioid-addiction is a crisis around the region and nation, but treatment options are available

Insider Louisville LogoNo one is disputing that the opioid crisis is an epidemic in communities all over America. What starts for many as an addiction to legally prescribed painkillers can become an overwhelming craving that makes the introduction of heroin an economical and logical choice for many.

In fact, the number of deaths due to heroin overdose have recently surpassed the number of deaths due to motor vehicle accidents, Dr. Mary Bouldin, director of addiction medicine at LifeSpring Health Systems in Jeffersonville, says in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville.

“It’s very rare that somebody starts off shooting heroin,” she says. “Nobody wakes up saying ‘I think I want to be an injection-drug user today,’ but what happens is that because of the development of tolerance, people keep crossing lines that they thought they would never cross.”

For those caught up in the addiction cycle, it can be challenging to get treatment. To read more from Dr. Bouldin, and to see how the issue has affected one former NBA and UK basketball star, please click here.

 

Northern Kentucky leads the way in number of residents who know someone with a heroin problem

foundation for a healthy KYResidents of Northern Kentucky are more than twice as likely as other Kentuckians to know someone who has a heroin problem, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll.

Kentucky ranks second in the nation (tied with New Mexico) for the most drug overdose deaths per capita, trailing only West Virginia. In fact, the report says that drug overdose deaths in Kentucky more than quadrupled from 241 in 2000 to 1,077 in 2014.

The most recent poll – produced by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky as part of its “commitment to producing timely health information for policymakers, health officials and local decision makers,” according to the Foundation’s website – shows that nearly 35 percent of Northern Kentucky residents answered “yes” to the question “Have any of your family members or friends experienced problems as a result of using heroin?”, nearly three times the statewide average of 13 percent (up from 9 percent in 2013 and 11 percent in 2014).

Numbers from around the state were 17 percent for greater Louisville, 14 percent for greater Lexington, 10 percent for the Appalachian region, and 8 percent for Western Kentucky.

“This information can help Kentucky policymakers as they devise strategies to curb our state’s drug problems,” said Susan Zepeda, President/CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which co-sponsors the poll with Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

For more information about the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and the Kentucky Health Issues Poll, please click here.

 

Drug overdose deaths hit record numbers in 2014

CDC image U.S. deaths from drug overdoses hit a record high in 2014, propelled by abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The total number of drug overdoses increased 6.5 percent in 2014 from a year earlier, killing more than 47,000 people. The highest rates of death from overdose were seen in West Virginia (35.5 deaths per 100,000), New Mexico (27.3), New Hampshire (26.2), Kentucky (24.7), and Ohio (24.6).

Opioid overdose deaths, including both opioid pain relievers and heroin, accounted for 61 percent of overdose deaths and increased 14 percent in just one year, the CDC said.

“The increasing number of deaths from opioid overdose is alarming,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. “The opioid epidemic is devastating American families and communities. To curb these trends and save lives, we must help prevent addiction and provide support and treatment to those who suffer from opioid use disorders.”

Since 2000, overall deaths from drug overdoses have increased 137 percent, while those from opioids have jumped 200 percent, the CDC said. More than half a million people in the United States have died from drug overdoses since 2000, according to the CDC.

To read the full CDC “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,” please click here.

 

Heroin addiction affects many Kentuckians, but there are ways to reverse this epidemic

Insider Louisville LogoHeroin addiction is a problem that has exploded in Kentucky over the past several years. Three years ago, barely 1 in 100 people who came to The Healing Place detox facilities for help were there because of a heroin addiction. Today, that number is 95 percent. In that same time period, heroin arrests in Jefferson County have increased by 700 percent, prompting the launch of a “rocket docket” that serves to get addicts into treatment more quickly.

Still, despite the efforts of social services agencies and law enforcement officials, the epidemic continues to grow. That’s why The Healing Place helped organize a recent symposium, “Heroin: About Face. Reversing an Epidemic,” to bring together people representing social services agencies, law enforcement, the courts, and much more to address the issues and find solutions to the problem.

The keynote speaker was Tara Conner, the 2006 Miss USA from Russell Springs, who told her story of addiction that started at a very young age and eventually led to her treatment and life of recovery.

“I was grateful that I was sent to treatment because I didn’t know that addiction was a disease, I didn’t know what recovery looked like,” she said in a recent Passport-sponsored article in Insider Louisville. “Since that experience I immediately became an advocate. I was chucked into rehab by someone else, and if that hadn’t happened I might be dead.”

Among the other speakers were Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, who lost a son to a heroin overdose in 2014; Dr. Greg Jones, medical director of the Kentucky Physicians Health Foundation; and Geoff Wilson, a licensed clinical social worker and certified alcohol and drug counselor.

For more information, please go online to InsiderLouisville.com.

 

Heroin symposium to put focus on treating addicts of all ages and from all areas

Heroin SymposiumThe heroin epidemic plaguing our city and our state continues to increase. It has been several years since the re-emergence of heroin in our area, yet 95 percent of clients arriving in The Healing Place detox facilities are coming in for heroin, according to a column written by Laci M. Comer, development project manager for The Healing Place, in The (Louisville) Courier-Journal.

“The new addict is 18 to 30 years old and comes from the suburban, more affluent ZIP codes,” Ms. Comer writes. “The face of addiction is absolutely changing and has a huge impact on our community.”

To help doing something about this, The Healing Place and Passport Health Plan are planning a daylong symposium called “Heroin: About Face – Reversing an Epidemic,” on Wednesday, October 28 in Louisville. It is encouraged that physicians, social workers, counselors, human resources personnel, and certified drug & alcohol counselors who work with families and clients attend this symposium, along with families who deal directly with addiction.

Guest speakers will include:

  • Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006, who will share her story of abuse and recovery
  • Dreg Jones, MD, medical director of the Kentucky Physicians Health Foundation
  • Geoff Wilson, LCSW, CADC, a clinical social worker and certified alcohol & drug counselor in Kentucky for more than 20 years
  • Mike O’Connell, Jefferson County Attorney
  • A “Community Impact Panel” with representatives from law enforcement, corrections, and the health department

The symposium has been approved for 2.5 CME from the Kentucky Medical Association and 5.75 CEUs for various professions. The symposium begins at 7:30 a.m., and cost is $150.

For more information about the symposium or to register, go online to www.thehealingplace.org/heroin, send an email to events@thehealingplace.org or call (502) 357-1983.

 

Passport joins with The Healing Place to present symposium focused on fighting heroin addiction

Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006Heroin addiction has reached an epidemic level around Kentucky, affecting families, businesses, and communities as well as the addict and his or her family. In fact, Kentucky has the third-highest overdose rate in the nation, and nowhere is this more felt that at The Healing Place in Louisville, one of the nation’s most effective long-term, social model recovery programs for more than 25 years.

Beyond ruining people’s lives, heroin addiction also leads to an increased crime rate, a larger number of patients in area hospitals, and increases to the cost of healthcare. That’s why Passport and The Healing Place are gathering experts in the healthcare community to study the issue and address solutions.

“Heroin: About Face – Reversing an Epidemic” is a daylong symposium being planned by The Healing Place and sponsored by Passport on Wednesday, October 28. It is encouraged that physicians, social workers, counselors, human resources personnel, and certified drug & alcohol counselors who work with families and clients attend this symposium, along with families who deal directly with addiction.

Guest speakers will include:

  • Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006, (pictured) who will share her story of abuse and recovery
  • Dreg Jones, MD, medical director of the Kentucky Physicians Health Foundation
  • Geoff Wilson, LCSW, CADC, a clinical social worker and certified alcohol & drug counselor in Kentucky for more than 20 years
  • Mike O’Connell, Jefferson County Attorney
  • A “Community Impact Panel” with representatives from law enforcement, corrections, and the health department

The symposium has been approved for 2.5 CME from the Kentucky Medical Association and 5.75 CEUs for various professions.

For more information about the symposium or to register, go online to www.thehealingplace.org/heroin, send an email to events@thehealingplace.org or call (502) 357-1983.

 

Northern Kentucky Hospitals Get Overdose-Reversal Kits

Hospital systems on the front lines of treating heroin overdoses in hard-hit northern Kentucky will be supplied with hundreds ofnaloxone kits to send home with overdose patients in an effort to combat the deadly toll from the drug scourge. According to The Associated Press, the overdose-reversal kits are expected to save lives and provide a starting point for conversations about treatment.  The St. Elizabeth Healthcare system will receive about 500 kits for its hospitals, Atty. Gen. Jack Conway and Kentucky first lady Jane Beshear announced. For more information, click here.

 

Opinion: Effective Legislation is Needed to Expand Access to Drug Treatment

Passport CEO Mark B. Carter and Director of Behavioral Health Dr. Elizabeth McKune produced an op-ed that ran in The Courier-Journal on Friday, March 6, that discussed the heroin problem around the Commonwealth as well as the legislation and programs they feel can best help Kentuckians who are dealing with this deadly epidemic. To read the column, please click here.