Reforms to Curb the Prescription Opioid Epidemic


Statistics about the prescription opioid epidemic in America are grim to say the least. While efforts to curb the crisis in recent years have proven somewhat effective, people continue to lose their lives every day from prescription opioid overdoses. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than 16,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses in 2013. Since 1999, opioid sales have increased 300 percent and the number of overdoses has quadrupled. Every day, 44 people lose their life to prescription opioid overdoses.

With most problems, it is best to look at the source when attempting to find solutions. The reality is that many physicians are not trained in pain management, yet general practitioners write the bulk of prescriptions for opioids. There is a great need for medical students to be trained in proper prescribing practices, spotting signs of abuse, and addiction medicine. Doing so will reduce overprescribing, help addicts find help and ultimately save lives.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have issued recommendations designed to mitigate the prescription opioid epidemic, ScienceDaily reports. The new report was created by professionals from medicine, pharmacy, injury prevention and law.

The report calls for:

  • Medical students and physicians to be trained.
  • Prescriptions to be dispensed and monitored.
  • First responders to be equipped with naloxone.
  • People with addiction to be identified and treated.

“What’s important about these recommendations is that they cover the entire supply chain, from training doctors to working with pharmacies and the pharmaceuticals themselves, as well as reducing demand by mobilizing communities and treating people addicted to opioids,” says Andrea Gielen, ScD, ScM director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Bloomberg School and one of the report’s signatories. “Not only are the recommendations comprehensive, they were developed with input from a wide range of stakeholders, and wherever possible draw from evidence-based research.”


If you are or a loved one is abusing prescription drugs, please contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Heroin Users Need Help Not Incarceration


The heroin epidemic in the United States is almost hard to comprehend, especially since the nation has a history of facing narcotic scourges. The rates of abuse and overdoses deaths are staggering, calling on officials to rethink how they look at and deal with substance abuse.

On the eastern seaboard and Appalachian region, officials have seen an unprecedented rate of addiction. Public rehabilitation services are overflowing, infectious disease continues to spread and more people lose their lives with each day that passes.

In Pennsylvania, eight people overdosed on heroin in 70 minutes, in a county of 200,000 people, The Washington Post reports. The rush of overdoses was not the result of a bad batch of the drug or negligent dosing practices among users; it was simply an example of what is resulting from a dramatic rise in heroin use (it is possible that fentanyl was involved). Sadly, more than eight people would overdose that day, in 24 hours there were 16 overdoses in all, and 25 over a two day period.

While three people lost their lives, no question a tragedy, it is worth noting that others were saved by opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone – sold under the brand name Narcan ®. It probably goes without saying, that this recent incident underscores the need for increased naloxone access – especially because the problem does not appear to be subsiding anytime soon.

“There’s been a progressive increase in overdoses the last two years, and it just went out of control,” said Rick Gluth, supervising detective on the district attorney’s drug task force. “I’ve been a police officer for 27 years and worked narcotics for the last 15, and this is the worst. I’d be glad to have the crack epidemic back.”

In the past, users would be incarcerated for their acts, but this does little to address the problem of addiction. Approaching addiction as a disease has more and more states offering treatment over jail. The U.S. attorney for western Pennsylvania and co-chair of the National Heroin Task Force established by the Justice Department, David J. Hickton, believes users need help not incarceration, according to the article.

“There is a growing sense of community outrage that we can’t accept this like we are accepting it,” said Hickton. “We just can’t go on like this.”

“If they’re using and trafficking, I prosecute them,” he said. “If they’re just using, they need help.”


If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin addiction, please contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Prescription Drug Overdose Deaths Rise in 26 States

In a number of states, especially the ones hardest hit by prescription opioid abuse, drastic measure have been taken to curb the problem. While such efforts have shown promise, such as prescription drug monitoring programs and greater access to naloxone, many states are still seeing a rise in overdose deaths. New research suggests that the number of drug overdose deaths rose in 26 states between 2009 and 2013, Reuters reports. Only six states saw a decrease in overdose deaths during the same time period.

The study was conducted by the nonprofit group Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Their findings indicated that an estimated 44,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2013, a figure which is more than double the number found in 1999. Drug overdoses were responsible for more deaths in 36 states than motor vehicle-related deaths, according to the article.

In 2013, almost 52 percent of overdose deaths were related to prescription drugs. The two types of prescription drugs that were linked to the majority of overdoses were opioid painkillers and benzodiazepine anti-anxiety medications, such as OxyContin ® (oxycodone) and Xanax ® (alprazolam). The study found that more than 16,000 deaths were related to opioids and almost 7,000 were tied to benzodiazepines and sleep medications.

The report clearly shows the need for more access and training to the life saving overdose reversal drug naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan ®. There are 34 states and D.C. which have laws in place to expand access to, and use of, naloxone, according to the study. 

Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment 

If you are currently struggling with prescription drugs, and are need of help, please do not hesitate to contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation

Addiction Treatment After Naloxone

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California is now following the footsteps of Colorado and other states that allows the use of naloxone or Narcan, an FDA approved, non-addictive drug that prevents heroin overdose.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 635 into law, which took effect on January 1st of this year permitting the use of naloxone by non-medical professionals across the state. Just this week, Gil Kerlikowske the White House Director of National Drug Control Policy highlighted the effectiveness of naloxone as one of many attempts to limit the rise of heroin abuse and overdose in the US. Currently, more than 100 overdose deaths occur from heroin abuse in the US each day. The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman last week was one of an estimated 700 that occurred that week.

Naloxone works by preventing both heroin and addictive opiate pills like OxyContin and percocet from binding to receptors that are responsible for recessing breathing. Heroin overdose deaths occur when breathing has slowed down until it has stopped entirely. By injecting patients with naloxone, emergency rooms and emergency workers have reversed an estimated 10,000 overdoses.

Colorado, and now California, have permitted access to naloxone by those most likely to need it where it can prevent overdoses – such as drug users, addiction counselors and family members of addicts. They are allowed to administer the drug without any criminal or civil liability. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Colorado’s version of the bill – Senate Bill 14 – into law in May 2013.

Naloxone essentially puts out the fire for those in active addiction on the brink of an overdose. Harmony Foundation’s drug detox and drug rehab program helps heroin and prescription pill addicts extinguish their active addiction in general, so that they no longer live in fear of overdose. If you or a loved one is at risk of an overdose, our Colorado addiction treatment program can help lay the foundation of recovery and abstinence – lowering the risk of overdose or the need for naloxone.