heroin

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In recent years, the United States has seen an alarming spike in opioid overdoses. From prescription painkillers to street drugs like heroin, opioid abuse has led to widespread addiction and all too often, death. Today, development of the counterdrug Narcan is serving to combat the growing problem and save the lives of those affected.

To find out more about this epidemic and what’s being done about it, “Take Care” spoke with emergency medicine physician and Baltimore Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen.

Painkillers: prescription or affliction?

Apr 15, 2017
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When a water heater fell on him one fateful day at work, John Dias’ life was forever changed. He awoke in the hospital, partially paralyzed, and when he left, he had a prescription for OxyContin. But like so many others, his prescription became his affliction, resulting in a severe addiction and eventual overdoses.

In recent years, this occurrence has become all too common, leading to the development of the antidote naloxone – the very medicine which revived Dias on two separate occasions. To find out more about his story, “Take Care” spoke with Dias, who opened up about his experience and the importance of naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The opioid epidemic in New York state has spurred expansion of a Syracuse addiction center to include a methadone clinic. The center, Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare (SBH), is the site of one of only a few methadone clinics in central New York.

Methadone treatment, which allows patients to reduce or quit their use of heroin or other opiates, is highly regulated by the state and federal governments. This is the third facility approved to dispense methadone in Onondaga County.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

As people continue to die from heroin and opioid addiction in central and northern New York, communities like Oswego County are offering new treatment programs to combat the crisis. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) hosted an opioid forum in Oswego Thursday night -- his first public event since Congress' failed attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Updated at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday

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The number of heroin-related overdoses continues to rise in upstate, including in central New York. Now one agency that helps addicts is putting more emphasis on a harm-reduction technique called a “test shot.”

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Eight police departments in Onondaga County will now have needle and drug drop boxes installed at their facilities. They include the Baldwinsville, Camillus, Cicero, DeWitt, Geddes, Manlius, Marcellus and Syracuse police departments. It is part of an effort to reduce the number of heroin and opioid addictions in the county.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

North Country residents struggling with heroin and opioid addiction have a new treatment option. A medication-assisted heroin treatment center in Watertown is taking its first patients.

Until last week, Credo Community Center in Watertown offered recovering heroin addicts only abstinence treatment – the cold turkey approach to overcoming their substance abuse.

Jim Scordo, Credo’s executive director, says he found it didn’t work for some.

This time, her baby has a sober mom

Sep 27, 2016
KellyELambertPhotography / Flickr

The heroin epidemic has rocked New York state. A lot of attention has gone to how to stop drug trafficking and help addicts. But the increased use of opioids has created another issue -- how to care for the children of those hooked on heroin.

Filling the "Void"

It’s hard to take care of a new baby, then add trying to get sober from a heroin addiction in the mix.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Central New York is home to some new strategies meant to help victims of the heroin and opioid epidemic. The strategies include new kinds of support for families of victims, and for individuals recovering from overdoses.

Onondaga County’s new peer engagement specialist, Maria Sweeney, has started to make connections in central New York emergency rooms, to help individuals recovering from a drug abuse issue. She says often there is no one to offer support for recovery, once an addict is released from the hospital.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The number of heroin and opioid overdoses continues to rise in central New York. According to the latest figures from the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office, there have been 30 overdose deaths to date in 2016, compared with 52 all of last year.  The opioid epidemic is also starting to affect some of the agencies that deal with people addicted to heroin.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) Friday joined local families and professionals who deal with the opioid epidemic to applaud passage of a sweeping piece of federal legislation meant to deal with that crisis.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

A nonprofit in Watertown will receive $1.7 million to open a resource center for recovering drug addicts and their families. PIVOT is one of six non-profits throughout New York state to receive funding to help stop the heroin crisis in their communities.

Anita Seefried-Brown, who works with PIVOT, said the center is a culmination of everything she and the community have worked for since heroin first hit Jefferson County hard.

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There are only three more days left in the legislative session, and lawmakers are talking with Gov. Andrew Cuomo about a number of bills — but keeping details close to the vest.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Among the recommendations of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s heroin task force are a few ideas to improve access to treatment.

One idea would end prior authorization. That’s when patients must first get approval from their insurance before they’re admitted to treatment.

Rob Kent, general counsel to the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, said the panel heard from a lot of people who wanted help with their addiction, but had to wait.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to know what New Yorkers think the state can do to address the heroin and opioid epidemic. Hochul is traveling with a drug task force panel across the state, listening to local experts share their experiences.

“What we’re going through right now in New York is nothing short of a public health crisis,” Hochul said.

Speaking at Syracuse University, Hochul said the drug task force is putting together a plan to present to the governor and the legislature before their session ends in June.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Every day for the past two weeks, news reports have focused on a federal probe of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration. It comes as both former leaders of the legislature are being sentenced to prison for corruption. Despite that, Cuomo and legislative leaders say they are trying to achieve some agenda items in the closing weeks of the legislative session.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Abuse of a common over-the-counter drug is the latest side effect of the heroin epidemic.

Loperamide, more commonly known by the brand name Imodium, is used by most people to treat diarrhea. But Upstate New York Poison Center clinical toxicologist Jeanna Marraffa says the drug is used by opioid addicts to get high, or to help with withdrawal symptoms. Marraffa says in large quantities it can activate some of the same receptors as opioids. The problem is, it can kill.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

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.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

At a rally in Watertown Saturday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump touched on his familiar campaign promises to secure the borders and boost military funding.

Trump told an enthusiastic crowd that the flow of heroin and other illegal drugs into the country would end with his proposed wall along the Mexican border. Under his administration, Trump said Watertown will get jobs back and heroin out.

Watertown woman says goodbye to her 20s and heroin addiction

Apr 5, 2016
Brit Hanson / NCPR

It was a cold night in Watertown’s Thompson Park. The sun had already set and the park closed by the time Betsy Rogers and her mom arrived. They were there for what felt like a bittersweet celebration: Betsy’s 30th birthday.

 

She knelt on the ground shivering, trying to light a paper lantern. It had a red number 29 painted on its side. Darlene, Betsy’s mom, stood trying to shield them from the wind. For Betsy, the ritual was about more than turning 30 — she was also celebrating six months clean.

 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines on how doctors prescribe opioids for chronic pain. Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Republican Rep. John Katko want to see those guidelines pushed even further.

Speaking at an addiction prevention agency in Syracuse, Gillibrand said doctors do not have guidelines for what to prescribe patients with acute pain such as a broken arm or tooth extraction, when the pain is short in duration and not chronic.

This week: Heroin addiction, organic foods and more

Apr 1, 2016

Finding a treatment program and overcoming an addition to heroin or another opioid is difficult but not impossible, says Dr. Ross Sullivan. Sullivan is director of medical toxicology at Upstate Medical University.

Sullivan tells how the effort to control pain medically helped create the current addiction crisis. Recent restrictions on prescription drugs have led to a flood of cheap heroin to fill the gap, he says, and current treatment options are inadequate to fight the high addiction rates.

Last week, sheriff’s deputies raided what they say is the biggest fentanyl mill they’ve seen in Onondga County, arresting six people and stopping the sale of an estimated 6,000 bags of fentanyl-laced heroin locally. The bust showcases how a drug that is often used for good, has been co-opted into the illegal drug scene.

Anyone ever involved in a car accident, or who has gone to the emergency room with a broken bone, may have heard of fentanyl. The synthetic opioid is a prescription medication, according to William Eggleston, a pharmacist inn the Upstate Poison Control Center.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Local police agencies have a new foe in the fight against opioid addiction -- the synthetic drug fentanyl. It started showing up on central New York streets just over a year ago. Fentanyl, mostly mixed with heroin, but sometimes on i’s own, being sold to opioid users. 

Dimitris Kalogeropoylos, Flickr Creative Commons

In the state of New York, more than 2,000 people died of heroin overdoses in 2014. The highly-addictive drug is surging in nearly every county in the United States. Its negative effects are becoming harder to hide. Last week, a fender-bender in Watertown brought the reality of heroin abuse in the North Country into every day life.

Sixty-two year-old Randy Petrie was waiting at a red light in Watertown when he was rear-ended by a pickup truck. Lt. Joe Donoghue with the Watertown City Police heard the call at 2:30 p.m.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

In the state's latest attempt to combat the heroin epidemic, officials are expanding access to a drug overdose antidote to ensure more New Yorkers can access the potentially life saving medicine. 

Naloxone, more commonly referred to as Narcan, is now available without a prescription at 750 independent pharmacies and chain pharmacies. That's in addition to the 480 CVS and 460 Walgreens pharmacies that were approved to offer Narcan without a prescription earlier this year.

Oswego's Wayne Drugs manager Jamie Branshaw praised the state's action.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The City of Ithaca is proposing a plan to address the heroin crisis that includes a health facility where addicts would be allowed to use the drug under supervision. A panel of law enforcement, healthcare providers and business leaders who helped write the plan all agree that something has to change.

Members of an anti-drug nonprofit  in Watertown head to Capitol Hill this week. The group wants U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer to help fight the heroin crisis and the ways its affecting Jefferson County. 

Since 2011, there have been 79 deaths caused by heroin and opiate overdose in Jefferson County.

Anita Seefried-Brown’s own son died of a heroin overdose a day after he turned  33. He left a young daughter behind.

She says addiction is a disease, and it hurts more than just friends and families of the addicted.

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