The Ones Who Saw An Epidemic Coming: How A Group Of Activists In Appalachia Fought In Vain To Stop The Opioid Crisis
A handful of activists in rural Virginia were among the first to raise an alarm about the coming opioid epidemic. Their local efforts, however, were quashed by Purdue Pharma. Looking back, many activists see a tragic path filled with missed opportunities to stop the crisis. Other news on the epidemic focuses on budget cuts, naloxone and vigils.
The New York Times:
A Nun, A Doctor And A Lawyer — And Deep Regret Over The Nation’s Handling Of Opioids
Years before there was an opioid epidemic in America, Sister Beth Davies knew it was coming. In the late 1990s, patient after patient addicted to a new prescription painkiller called OxyContin began walking into the substance abuse clinic she ran in this worn Appalachian town. A local physician, Dr. Art Van Zee, sensed the gathering storm, too, as teenagers overdosed on the drug. His wife, Sue Ella Kobak, a lawyer, saw the danger signs in a growing wave of robberies and other crimes that all had links to OxyContin. (Meier, 8/18)
‘Those Were The Darkest Days’: How Key Budget Cuts Fueled Washington’s Opioid Crisis
By 2009, evidence of an epidemic in Washington was already widespread. More than 5,400 people had died of opioid overdoses since the beginning of the decade. Another 7,500 had been hospitalized for their addictions, and the phrase “opioid crisis” was beginning to creep into everyday conversation. But legislators that year were focused on a different crisis. The Great Recession had decimated government budgets, and over the next few sessions lawmakers were forced to trim state funding across the board. Among the more significant cuts: $35 million for addiction treatment and prevention. At the height of the opioid wave, at least four drug-treatment centers closed. (Rowe, 8/17)
The Washington Post:
Naloxone, A Drug That Reverses Overdoses, Can Save Lives. Here’s Why You Should Learn How To Use It.
Naloxone, a drug that reverses overdoses, can save lives. Also known as Narcan, it reverses the effects of opioids such as oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine and heroin. Naloxone prescriptions have risen dramatically in recent years — the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows a 106 percent increase in prescriptions dispensed from 2017 to 2018 — but the drug is still new to many. That should change, public health officials say. In a recent news conference, CDC officials encouraged naloxone use. And U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams emphasized the overdose reversal drug’s importance in an advisory last year. (Blakemore, 8/17)
NH Times Union:
Candlelight Vigils Will Honor Those Lost To Drug Epidemic, Suicide
Two New Hampshire recovery advocates are organizing statewide vigils on Aug. 29 to remember and honor those lost to the state’s drug epidemic and to suicide, calling the event 10,000 Candles for New Hampshire. But T.J. Murphy and Matt Conway say what they really want to do is to build connections among people as a bulwark against the forces that lead to such troubles in the first place. Murphy and Conway are the co-founders of RecoverYdia, an organization that showcases video narratives of people who have found recovery from challenges in their lives. “The opposite of addiction is connection; the opposite of suicide is connection,” Murphy said. “And when people have meaningful human interactions, there are better mental health outcomes.” (Wickham, 8/18)