Not long ago, more than 66 million pain pills flowed through Walker County, a rural area 15 miles northwest of Birmingham.
Today, the children of those who struggled with addiction still feel the effects, and people in the county are forging a new path to help rebuild families. Read more.
Blame for the opioid crisis in the U.S. often falls squarely on pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies or rogue prescribers — like the Virginia doctor who prescribed more than half a million opioid doses in two years.
But the whole story is more complicated, and it implicates a large portion of health care providers. Research shows that many doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants across the nation have oversupplied patients with opioids, spurring a national crisis that each year claims tens of thousands of lives.
“This isn’t just a story about rogue prescribers and pill mills,” says Caleb Alexander, co-Director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. “A much broader swath of the medical profession is responsible for the oversupply of opioids in clinical practice.” Read more.
A bill approved on the final day of the legislative session will require more regulation of a drug used in the outpatient treatment of opioid addiction.
“What we’re trying to do is set up some guidelines of how opioid addiction ought to be treated in today’s world,” said Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Tuscumbia, sponsor of Senate Bill 425. “(The goal is to steer) people toward buprenorphine and away from cash methadone treatment.”
Buprenorphine, under the brand name Suboxone, is a low-grade opiate. It blocks cravings for opioids, without the same high level as methadone. But to treat addiction, its use needs to come with treatment, supporters of Stutts’ bill say. Read more.
Jan. 23, 2018 – Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens called opioids the biggest crisis facing Jefferson County and said it is “a pandemic that affects everyone’s lives.”
Stephens’ comments came after officials from Cooper Green Mercy Health Services and several other health agencies presented Jefferson County’s response to the national opioid epidemic during the commission’s committee meeting Tuesday.
The response laid out the county’s use of a three-year, $3.9 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Read more.