Since the start of the opioid crisis, prosecutors across the country have expanded the filing of criminal charges against individuals found to have given drugs to someone who later died of an overdose. But such “drug-induced homicide” cases will only worsen the crisis, according to a health policy expert.
The needs of pain sufferers have been “sacrificed” to aggressive policies aimed at curbing the nation’s opioid epidemic, write two medical researchers in a forthcoming study in the Addiction journal. They argue the policies are based on a misreading of experts’ recommendations.
The Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG) has issued what it calls a first-of-its-kind, web-based resource combining data analyses, case studies and recommended strategies for all 50 states to help policymakers address public safety challenges. Among its major points: violent crime rates decreased in 32 states between 2006 and 2016, and the number of drug overdose deaths is now almost four times higher than the number of homicides.
Buprenorphine should be part of the toolkit of primary care physicians for treating opioid patients, says a New England Journal of Medicine study. The authors disagree with critics who call it a “replacement” drug that can trigger new addictions.
The opioid crisis has very little to do with prescription drugs, says a leading researcher. Patients treated for chronic pain with opioids–many of them elderly—are not dying from overdoses, and they shouldn’t be treated like addicts.
A report by the Open Society Justice Initiative calls for an international investigation of two massacres committed by drug gangs in the Mexican state of Coahuila on the U.S. border that left 450 people dead. The incidents illustrate what researchers say is a nationwide pattern of collusion between narco-cartels and corrupt authorities that has turned the U.S. closest southern neighbor into a killing ground.
Hallucinogens like LSD and other psychedelic drugs are currently illegal. But like marijuana, they have medicinal properties that make them potential non-addictive tools for treating chronic pain sufferers caught in the opioid epidemic, argues an addiction specialist.
The recent decision not to prosecute the doctor who prescribed opioid pills to Prince makes clear the difficulty of trying to fix legal responsibility for opioid overdoses. An addiction specialist argues that ultimately counseling and therapy are more effective in reducing the epidemic’s death toll than using punishment as a deterrence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid overdoses seen by hospital emergency rooms increased between the third quarter of 2016 and the third quarter of 2017 across the US. “We have an emergency on our hands,” says acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat.