Buprenorphine Prescriptions Tripled to Fight Opioid Epidemic

The abuse of opioids has become a prevalent problem throughout the United States. In fact, many consider this form of substance abuse to be an epidemic, as it has caused devastation in the lives of countless individuals, and yet appears to be continuously growing in prevalence.

It has been estimated that 80 people die from overdoses on opioid-based substances, which includes prescription painkillers and heroin, every day in the United States. This is the equivalent to just under 29,000 deaths related to opioid overdoses each year. Astoundingly, the number of deaths that result from drug overdoses are now even higher than those that result from automobile accidents.

The state of this epidemic has prompted the U.S. government to take action in an attempt to combat the destructive nature of this problem.

In early July 2016, the government expanded access to drugs that are used to treat opioid abuse and addiction. One such drug is buprenorphine, which is a mixed partial opioid agonist medication that is used to help treat opioid addiction by reducing or eliminating the withdrawal symptoms that would typically arise when a person attempts to stop using these types of substances.

Additionally, buprenorphine can decrease cravings, block the effects of other opioids, and ultimately help individuals achieve success in overcoming their addictions. Individuals who do not have access to medications like buprenorphine are much more likely to experience relapses should they attempt to discontinue their use.

Previously, doctors were limited in the amount of individuals for whom they could prescribe buprenorphine, maxing out at 100 people per physician. With this new initiative, however, those doctors will be able to obtain a waiver that allows them to prescribe the medication for as many as 275 people. In order to receive this waiver, prescribing physicians must obtain additional credentialing from a medical board or professional society, while also practicing in a qualified treatment setting.

By increasing the cap on the amount of people for whom doctors can prescribe buprenorphine, more individuals will have access to evidence-based opioid addiction treatment that can ultimately mean the difference between life and death.

At the present time, it is estimated that fewer than 32,000 physicians have authorization to prescribe buprenorphine, and only 6,000 of them are actively writing these prescriptions. By increasing the ability that doctors have to prescribing this medication, which is also sold under the brand name Suboxone, the hope is that more physicians will actively expand their practices in order to be able to offer this important treatment intervention.

In addition to the increase in allowances for access to buprenorphine, President Barrack Obama has called for increased funding in the amount of $1.1 billion in order to provide individuals with the ability to receive treatment wherever they reside, further enhancing the likelihood that people will take advantage of the treatment available to them.

By taking these steps, the government is not only raising awareness of the opioid epidemic, but is also providing individuals who are trapped in the insidious pattern of abusing opioids with tangible means of overcoming their addictions.

The Pros and Cons of Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana continues to be a hotly debated topic throughout the United States as more and more Americans are legally accessing the drug. As new states have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, some have criticized these decisions, implying that the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes is merely a “back door” method of legalizing the drug for recreational use.

However, research has shown that individuals are not just using the drug to get high, but are turning to marijuana to treat everything from chronic pain to sleep disorders. To that end, supporters of marijuana legalization tout the substance’s efficacy for medicinal purposes, but the apparent benefits do not end there. New information gathered from states who currently allow the legal use of marijuana is suggesting that legalization has resulted in large savings in these states’ Medicare prescription drug programs. It is believed that doctors in these states are prescribing medicinal marijuana for patients who suffer from some common conditions such as anxiety or glaucoma when prior to legalization, they would have only been able to recommend costly prescription drugs for men and women suffering from these diseases.

In a recent issue ofHealth Affairs, University of Georgia researchers published a study that found that in 2013, there were approximately $165.2 million in Medicare savings due to lower rates of prescription drug use. These significant savings occurred in a year when 17 states and the District of Columbia had allowed for the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Researchers are citing these findings as correlational, and posit that if all 50 states had also enacted similar legislation, overall savings to Medicare would have been around $468 million.

Healthcare is becoming more expensive with each passing year, and programs such as Medicare are designed to help some lower income individuals access the care they need. But as program budgets become increasingly strained, it may be prudent to consider the cost-saving effect of medical marijuana legislation. The millions of dollars in savings that could occur are undoubtedly needed to help keep programs like Medicare funded and functioning.

As we grapple with the hot-button topic of marijuana legalization, there are undoubtedly pros and cons to consider on both sides of the argument. As rates of prescription drug abuse are on the rise, policy makers and healthcare professionals are searching for ways to limit access and curb the abuse of these types of drugs. The opioid overdose epidemic is of particular concern, as these types of prescription drugs have been largely responsible for the recent spike in rates of overdose throughout the country.

Currently, according to the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is a “Schedule 1” by the federal government under the Controlled Substances Act. A Schedule 1 classification denotes a highly restrictive categorization, and is to be reserved for drugs that the government considers to have high potential for abuse, significant safety concerns, and no medicinal value. Many who support the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes take issue with this classification, and as more data supports positive outcomes in the realms of both public health and economics, more states are removing restrictions on the substance.

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal use, and since then several more states have adopted similar legislation. However, it will take some time to collect enough longitudinal data to gain a clearer picture on the effects of marijuana legalization for states with struggling Medicare budgets, and to understand more deeply the relationship between marijuana legislation and rates of prescription drug use.

California Voters to Consider Marijuana Legalization

When Californians head to the polls on Nov. 8, they won’t only be helping to determine who the next president of the United States will be. They will also be deciding if California will become the fifth U.S. state to legalize the sale, possession, and use of marijuana by adults.

The combination of California’s size, financial strength, and cultural clout suggests that the vote to legalize marijuana could be a watershed moment in the ongoing national debate over how to control what has for decades been one of the most commonly abused recreational substances.

Proposition 64, which is referred to as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), will appear on ballots under the headline “Marijuana Legislation Initiative Statute.” According to California’sOfficial Voter Information Guide, passage of the proposition would lead to the following outcomes:

  • Legalization of marijuana under state law, for use by adults 21 or older.
  • Designation of state agencies to license and regulate the marijuana industry.
  • Imposition of state excise tax of 15% on retail sales of marijuana, and state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves.
  • Exemption of medical marijuana from some taxation.
  • Establishment of packaging, labeling, advertising, and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products.
  • Prohibition on marketing and advertising of marijuana directly to minors.
  • Permission for local regulation and taxation of marijuana.
  • Authorization of resentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions

Though the legal changes included in Prop 64 will only impact the state of California, experts are confident that the impact of this proposition’s passage would be felt throughout the nation.

For example, ina July 5 article on the Rolling Stone website, Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said that a decision by Californians to legalize marijuana would be a “total dynamic change” that would energize efforts to achieve nationwide legality for the controversial substance.

AnAug. 19 Los Angeles Times articlenoted that the size of the California economy would enable the state to collect a windfall of tax money from a newly legal marijuana industry. According to that article, it is estimated that legal marijuana would contribute up to $1 billion in annual taxation within a few years. For purposes of comparison, Colorado’s legal marijuana industry accounted for about $135 million in tax revenue in 2015.

On Aug. 24, a report issued by market research firms The Arcview Group and New Frontier estimated that, if Prop 64 passes in November, a legal marijuana industry in California could expect to reach $6.5 billion in annual revenue by the year 2020.

While most experts appear to agree that the measure is likely to pass, the opinion on the effect of this legislative change is far from universal.

Inan Aug. 24 Mercury News article, John Kaiga of New Frontier predicted that the passage of Prop 64 will lead to California becoming “the new epicenter of cannabis,” which will in turn prompt “professionalism of the industry [and] an emphasis on innovation.”

This positive view is countered by, among others, several prominent individuals within the California law enforcement community. Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens told theOrange County Registerthat legalization of marijuana “would be a terrible move for California to make,” while San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos said that passing Prop 64 “will do nothing to curb black-market activity in California.”

On Aug. 20, about 12 weeks before Election Day, polls showed that Proposition 64 was favored by 55 percent of Californians. When the polling was restricted to likely voters, support rose to 60 percent.

Drug Use on the Job

Here in the Golden State, our communities bustle with a wealth of opportunity. There are countless ways to advance professionally, working alongside leaders in a variety of industries. Here in California, we’re proud of our workforce and all they’ve accomplished, but beneath the surface of career success and economic viability lies an unfortunate truth. Californians from all walks of life suffer from the negative impact of addiction, and countless individuals are fighting the battle of substance abuse on a daily basis.

Aside from the damaging physical consequences of abusing drugs or alcohol, addiction can negatively impact one’s ability to maintain healthy relationships with friends and family, and perform to the best of one’s ability at work. As the addiction progresses, the affected person’s ability to function becomes more and more compromised. It may be harder to keep track of schedules, multitask, and maintain emotional regulation within the work environment, and co-occurring disorders such as depression and anxiety will only exacerbate the problem.

If you haven’t had personal experience with addiction, you may wonder about these faceless individuals who are struggling with substance abuse each day. The truth is, they are your friends and neighbors, your boss or coworker, or someone you might pass on your commute each day. Addiction doesn’t discriminate by race or class, and affects every segment of the population. Consider the following professions, and how substance abuse might affect individuals who hold these occupations. An addiction can certainly impact one’s livelihood, but the consequences also extend to our communities and beyond.

  • On a daily basis, lawyers manage complicated judicial matters and legal briefings that would make many heads spin. An addiction may compromise their ability to juggle all the tasks at hand, and could potentially result in them being disbarred if their ability to execute sound, ethical judgement becomes compromised.
  • Artists have, at times, been known to misuse substances as part of the creative process. But a clouded mind and erratic behavior creates distraction and does not allow for an artist to do his or her best work.
  • Chefs and restaurant workers make the meals we share with friends, families, and colleagues. Restaurants are important gathering spaces in our communities, but if a chef’s clarity is compromised by drugs or alcohol, our safety could be at risk.
  • Nurses bandage our wounds and offer lifesaving care. Their high-stress jobs and access to prescription drugs puts them at a heightened risk for substance abuse. Doctors and nurses struggling with addiction aren’t only a danger to themselves. Rather, they could be putting the public’s health at risk if their ability to reason and perform in emergency situations is hindered.
  • Accountants are responsible for crunching the numbers that keep our businesses afloat. If an accountant is abusing drugs or alcohol, the mistakes they make could be costly and cause their clients to be faced with legal vulnerability.
  • Software developers are individuals who are tasked with both creative and technical execution in their work. When their functioning is compromised by drugs or alcohol, their ability to innovate will be limited.
  • School teachers are tasked with caring for one of our community’s most precious assets, our children. For some students, their teacher is the most consistent adult figure in their lives. These children look to their classroom teacher to make them feel safe at school with a predictable, caring presence. Drug or alcohol abuse can make one’s personality increasingly erratic, and can have a damaging impact on the student/teacher relationship.

At Duffy’s, we’ve treated over 36,000 guests and we’re proud of our legacy of providing quality treatment services to guests from all walks of life. Our 95% completion rate sets us apart from other recovery centers, and demonstrates the high level of care we provide. No matter your background, we invite you to explore opportunities for healing at Duffy’s.

How to Ask for Help with Alcoholism as a Parent with a Family

In the 1994 Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia filmWhen a Man Loves a Woman, two parents struggle with the effects of Ryan’s character’s alcoholism and fight to keep their marriage and family together.

The reality of seeking care for alcoholism is certainly no Hollywood movie, butWhen a Man Loves a Womanbeautifully illustrates some of the challenges and things to consider when seeking treatment, such as:

  • Talk to someone

The first step in getting help is simply talking to someone. Therapists and licensed counselors are required by law to not disclose what you discuss in sessions unless they need to break confidentiality in a limited manner to protect you or someone else who may be at imminent risk. As a result, you can feel safe knowing that you can talk with someone about your struggle and that person is legally and ethically bound to protect what you talk about, and even to keep confidential the fact that you are attending therapy.

  • Make sure children are safe.

All mental health professionals, and many other professionals such as pastors, priests, and teachers, are part of a class of individuals known as “mandated reporters.” Mandated reporters are required by law to disclose any and all information necessary to keep a child, elderly person, dependent adult, or other person who may be at risk safe.

The tragic reality of alcoholism is that children in the family of a person with alcoholism will bear the brunt of that person’s anger. Even if a parent with alcoholism is not directly aggressive, other situations, such as having to ride in a car with a drunk parent, can place a child in danger. As a result, if you know that your child may be in danger because of your alcoholism, be honest with your care providers. It is rare for children to be permanently removed from a home. If your children are in danger, work with your care providers to keep them safe until your alcoholism no longer makes your home an unsafe environment.

  • Understand your family dynamics

Mental health professionals often refer to alcoholism as a “family disease.” This phrase has two meanings. First, a genetic predisposition towards alcohol addiction can be passed down from parents to children, so alcoholism is, in a limited sense, biologically a family disease. Second, certain family relational dynamics can sustain or enable alcoholism to continue. A family often acts as an entire system with different members playing different roles. For example, a parent with alcoholism may be a family “scapegoat” and take the blame for family tension while a spouse may enable alcoholism by needing to feel powerful, like a martyr, or simply important by constantly taking care of the individual with alcoholism.

Successful alcoholism treatment will require the entire family to examine each member’s role in keeping alcoholism alive. As a result, many treatment programs provide family therapy to give treatment participants a chance to meet with their families and honestly discuss the relational dynamics that allow alcoholism to continue.

Alcoholism treatment is no doubt a difficult and taxing process, but with proper help and professional care, many people find that they are able to free themselves from the grips of addiction and achieve long-term sobriety. Help is available; you have only to ask.

The Pros and Cons of Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients

In the world of public policy and legislation, the question of whether or not to require drug testing for welfare recipients is divisive and emotionally charged. Both sides fight tooth-and-nail for their side, and the end result is a vicious battle for legal authority. Laws requiring drug testing for welfare recipients are also becoming more popular. As of May 2016, at least 17 states were in the process of creating drug testing legislation for welfare recipients, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Because of the emotionally charged nature of the debate, this article only seeks to present major arguments for both sides of the debate as opposed to presenting an opinion.

Pros of Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients

  • Prudent use of taxpayer dollars. Few individuals whose taxes fund the welfare system would be amenable to the idea of their tax dollars helping individuals on welfare buy drugs, and so advocates of mandatory drug testing argue that regular drug tests would ensure that individuals on welfare would be using welfare money for food, housing, and other necessities instead of substances of abuse.
  • Identifying individuals in need of substance abuse treatment. Substance abuse is a problem that affects the whole of society, not just individuals who are abusing substances. Mandatory drug testing helps identify individuals who can benefit from substance abuse treatment so they can receive help and will, according to drug testing advocates, save money in the long-term.
  • Alternative drug testing methodologies exist. Even if wholesale drug testing of all welfare applicants is not proving to be cost-effective, it is possible to restructure policy so that, for example, only individuals who are suspected of drug abuse will be tested.
  • Precedent in the job market. Members of state legislatures have argued that drug testing is often required by employers, so it is reasonable to also require drug testing for welfare recipients.
  • Discouraging long-term welfare use. Adding more requirements for keeping benefits encourages individuals to find work and thus escape the paperwork and other onerous bureaucratic necessities of maintaining welfare.

Cons of Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients

  • Poor use of taxpayer dollars. Drug tests are expensive, and according to data published by ThinkProgress, drug testing cost more than $850,000 in 2015 and resulted in 321 positive tests among more than 96,000 welfare applicants, 3000 of whom were tested. Opponents of mandatory drug testing argue that the savings obtained by drug testing are far outweighed by the cost of testing itself.
  • Violation of Constitution. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the drug testing law in Florida was struck down by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because it violated individuals’ Constitutional right to not be subject to unreasonable searches.
  • Stigmatization of individuals on welfare. Opponents of drug testing laws argue that requiring drug testing for welfare recipients reinforces the belief that welfare beneficiaries are addicts and drug users. They argue that the reality according to the data published by states that conduct drug testing is that very few (approximately 0.3 percent in 2015, according to numbers reported by ThinkProgress) of these individuals are using drugs.
  • Drug testing denies welfare benefits to children. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 75 percent of Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) aid recipients were children. When states deny aid to individuals with positive drug tests, these children bear the consequences.

While the question of drug testing for welfare recipients is difficult and emotionally charged, with continued work and compromise, hopefully it will be possible to develop a solution that is fair to all parties involved.

California Tightens Restrictions on Tobacco

California recently made it more difficult for young people to get tobacco, and experts hope that the move will have a variety of long-term benefits.

On May 4, California Governor Jerry Brown signed several smoking-related bills. When the laws went into effect on June 9, California became the second state in the nation to ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21, with an exemption granted to active-duty military personnel. Hawaii’s ban on tobacco sales to individuals under the age of 21 went into effect Jan. 1.

In addition to prohibiting the sale of cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and other tobacco products to consumers under the age of 21, California’s new laws also accomplished the following:

  • Banned the sale of electronic cigarettes to anyone under the age of 21, except active-duty military personnel
  • Expanded the prohibition on use of tobacco products to include owner-owned business as well as hotel lobbies, bars and taverns, banquet rooms, warehouse facilities, and employee break rooms
  • Prohibited the use of e-cigarettes, vaporizers (which are also commonly referred to as vapes), and similar devices in all places where the use of tobacco is already barred
  • Expanded funding for school-based tobacco-prevention programs to include charter schools

A variety of individuals and organizations who are active in the realm of public health, including the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and the president of the California Medical Association, expressed support for these changes.

The California legislature is not the only government agency to take steps to rein in the use of tobacco, e-cigarettes, vapes, and similar devices. On May 5, the day after Gov. Brown signed California’s bills, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that e-cigarettes, hookahs, and other smoking products will soon be regulated in a manner similar to how the federal government also controls cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco.

On both the federal and state levels, the new laws and regulations are designed both to curtail current behaviors and to limit future problems. For example, with studies showing that e-cigarettes and vapes are popular among young adults and teenagers, experts are concerned that the widespread use of these devices may encourage individuals to eventually switch to tobacco.

Health experts have long been concerned about tobacco use among children and adolescents, both because of the direct effects of tobacco and because of the association between smoking and additional types of substance abuse. According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), adolescents ages 12 to 17 who use tobacco are 11 times more likely than non-smokers in the same age group to use illicit drugs, and 16 times more likely to abuse alcohol. Also, the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) has reported that individuals who smoke cigarettes during childhood are three times more likely to use marijuana and four times more likely to engage in cocaine abuse as are individuals who avoided tobacco during childhood.

The popularity of e-cigarettes among young people runs counter to a continued decrease in tobacco abuse among U.S. adolescents. For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 2.3 percent of middle school students and 9.3 percent of high school students reported past-month tobacco use in 2015, decreases of 53 percent and 58.9 percent, respectively, from 2011. However, during that same time period, e-cigarette use rose from 0.6 percent to 5.3 percent among middle school students and from 1.5 percent to 16 percent among high school students.

Stopping teens from using tobacco can significantly reduce the likelihood that they will smoke later in life. According to data collected by the CDC, nearly 90 percent of adult smokers had their first cigarette by age 18. Given these statistics, California legislators hope that their actions will yield many long-term benefits, including continued reduction of smoking rates throughout the state and a decline in the prevalence of the many secondary and co-occurring problems that are associated with tobacco abuse.

Staying Dry on the Road: How to Keep Up Sobriety While Traveling

It’s a common struggle for many professionals and executives. While on the road for business, a few coworkers might want to get together for drinks after work and talk about the next big project coming down the pipeline, or share the latest technology scuttlebutt, or even talk about the most recent episode of Game of Thrones.

As a professional who is in recovery or committed to sobriety, however, it can be difficult to know what to do in these situations. You know that many of the best ideas and relationships in business are formed outside of work hours, but you also recognize the need to stay sober. Fortunately, it is possible to stay sober while also not hamstringing your career.

First, keep in mind whether you have committed to complete abstinence or merely to limiting your drinking.

If you have decided to limit your drinking instead of remain completely abstinent, set a limit for yourself on the number of drinks you will have before you go to the event. Write this limit down, share it with friends, family, and even a trusted coworker, and stick to it.

That being said, most individuals in recovery are committed to complete abstinence from alcohol, so here are a few suggestions for helping you walk the line between business and booze:

  • First and foremost, avoid situations where there will be alcohol if at all possible. This becomes more difficult if it is a mandatory work meeting or team building exercise, but it is in your best interest to avoid situations with alcohol whenever possible.
  • If not going to a work event where there will be alcohol would have severe consequences for you or your career, tell has many trusted people as you can about what is going on. Talk with your sponsor, family, close friends, and even a trusted coworker or two who can help keep you accountable.
  • Try to keep a full non-alcoholic drink in your hand, whether that is soda, iced tea, or even good old water. It will give you a good excuse for not ordering an alcoholic drink.
  • Be polite but firm if anyone encourages you to drink. Remember you have a right to decline a drink if it is offered.

Of course, one of the other major reasons you may be tempted to drink while on the road is simply the boredom, isolation, and loneliness that can happen at times with work-related travel. In these instances, consider the following tips:

  • Tell your sponsor, friends, and family members ahead of time where you are going and what you plan on doing. The more time during the trip you have planned out, the more likely you are to do not drink out of boredom.
  • Talk with friends and family regularly. Set up regular phone calls or video calls to reconnect with them during your trip.
  • Keep in mind the situations that may trigger you, cause you stress, and make you want to turn to alcohol. Try as best you can anticipate those events and make a plan for how to respond to them if they arise.

Your commitment to sobriety is worth fighting for, as is your career. By being wise during your work trips and leaning on the support of your sponsor, family, friends, and trusted coworkers, it is possible to build both your career and your number of days sober.

Obama Administration Focuses on Fight to End Opioid Abuse

Money does not cure drug addiction. But it can be an essential weapon in the fight.

Recognizing this reality, U.S. President Barack Obama has called for more than $1 billion of new government funding to be dedicated to the battle against one of the nation’s most pernicious drug abuse problems, the ongoing opioid epidemic. The president has also made several appearances to raise awareness about the scope of the problem and to highlight efforts that his administration and others are undertaking to develop and implement solutions.

According to information on the White House website, the president’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 includes the following entries to help reduce rates of substance abuse and addiction involving prescription painkillers, heroin, and other opioids:

  • $920 million to support cooperative agreements with States to expand access to medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorders.
  • $50 million in funding to the National Health Service Corps that will expand access to substance use treatment providers.
  • $30 million to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment programs that employ medication assisted treatment to help identify opportunities to improve treatment for patients with opioid use disorders.

The 2017 budget also includes more than $90 million in new spending to get more people into medication-assisted treatment programs, expand efforts at the state level to prevent prescription drug overdose, support opioid-related law enforcement activities, and increase access to naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of opioid overdose.

These spending proposals, which were announced in February 2016, are just one part of the Obama administration’s effort to stem the rising tide of opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose.

In March 2016, while appearing at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, the president announced three additional actions:

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) may double the number of patients who are permitted to receive buprenorphine, a prescription medication that prevents drug cravings and other opioid withdrawal symptoms. Currently, physicians are allowed to prescribe buprenorphine to more than 100 patients.
  • HSS has $94 million in new funding to community health centers that provide medication assisted opioid addiction treatment services in underserved communities.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released an additional $11 million to expand medication-assisted treatment services at the state level, and will be coordinating efforts by certain states to qualify more physicians to prescribe buprenorphine.

On May 14, the president’s weekly online video address to the nation featured rapper Macklemore, who spoke about his previous struggles with opioid abuse and the need for expanded access to treatment.

“I’m here with President Obama because I take this personally. I have abused prescription drugs and battled addiction,” Macklemore said at the beginning of the video. “If I hadn’t gotten the help I needed when I needed it, I might not be here today. And I want to help others [who are] facing the same challenges I did.”

The president, who noted in the video that the annual number of opioid-related deaths in the United States has increased by more than 300% in the past 15 years, called attention to the role that prescription painkiller abuse has played in this ongoing problem.

“Addiction doesn’t always start in some dark alley. It often starts in a medicine cabinet,” he said. “In fact, a new study released this month found that 44 percent of Americans know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers.”

An extended version of the conversation between President Obama and Macklemore is slated to be included in an hour-long documentary about opioid abuse and addiction that will be shown on MTV later in 2016.

Arrests Shine Light on Prescription Pill Abuse in Reno

The recent breakup of a “pill mill” ring in Reno, Nevada, has brought renewed attention on the area’s struggles to effectively address epidemic levels of prescription drug abuse.

In the nearly 90 years since Reno, Nevada bestowed the “Biggest Little City in the World” nickname upon itself, the former mining town has maintained a reputation for excess. Liberal divorce laws, legal gambling, and proximity to licensed brothels has made Reno an enticing destination for those who wish to engage in the many behaviors that fall under the euphemistic umbrella of “adult fun.”

Of course, the legalization of certain so-called vices does not prevent people from engaging in other illicit, illegal, or otherwise ill-advised pursuits. And today, as is the unfortunate case in many other cities throughout the United States, a common ill-advised pursuit in Reno involves that abuse of prescription pills.

On April 28 and 29, a Reno doctor and eight others were arrested by federal agents for their alleged involvement in the illegal distribution of prescription opioids, including oxycodone and fentanyl. Authorities claim that the Reno ring had been in operation for years, and is linked to at least one death.

Oxycodone, which is present in the popular prescription painkillers OxyContin and Percocet, is a powerful semisynthetic opioid that is typically prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opioid that is most commonly used to treat severe pain that cannot be controlled by morphine.

Stacy Ward, a drug abuse prevention counselor with the Reno Police Department, told the Reno Gazette-Journal that increased abuse of prescription opioids has been one of the most significant drug-related problems in the area in recent years. The Gazette also reported that between 2006 and 2012, the annual amount of prescription opioids that were legally distributed in Nevada increased by more than 100 percent.

According to Join Together Northern Nevada, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to fighting substance abuse in Washoe County, prescription drug abuse is one of the main reasons why drug overdose is now the second-leading cause of unintentional death in the United States, and the leading cause among individuals ages 35 to 54.

Efforts in Reno and other areas to curb prescription opioid abuse by closely monitoring the distribution of these medications have shown promise, but progress has not come without unintended negative consequences. For example, some experts note that the inability of opioid-dependent individuals to access prescription medications has contributed to increased rates of heroin abuse.

Whether a person begins to use oxycodone, fentanyl, or any other prescription opioid for legitimate medical purposes, in an illicit attempt to self-medicate, or solely for a recreational high, addiction can occur with stunning rapidity.

People who become dependent upon opioids will develop tolerance, which means that they will need to take increasingly larger doses of the drugs in order to achieve the desired effect. When a person who has become dependent upon an opioid stops or significantly reduces the amount and frequency of his or her opioid use, he or she may experience intense cravings and a range of other painful symptoms, including, but not limited to, nausea, diarrhea, muscle and bone pain, and abdominal cramping.

These withdrawal symptoms, and the knowledge that they can be alleviated by relapsing into opioid abuse, can make opioid addiction extremely difficult to overcome without effective professional intervention. The good news is that, with effective treatment, a person can overcome the compulsion to abuse opioids and can achieve long-term recovery.

If you or someone that you care about has been struggling with an addiction to prescription painkillers or a non-prescription opioid such as heroin, Duffy’s Napa Valley Rehab may have the solutions that you have been searching for. To get the answers you need in order to make the most informed decision for yourself or your loved one, contact Duffy’s today.