opioids

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The national crisis of opioid addiction has led many doctors and patients to look for alternatives for managing pain. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Veterans seeking care at the Providence VA can now sign up for acupuncture treatments. It’s just one of several new alternative medical therapies offered at the VA to try to address pain and mental health. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

More than 1,000 Rhode Islanders have died from accidental drug overdoses in the past five years. Many more have been revived, thanks to first responders and emergency room workers.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

State lawmakers will consider several bills designed to fight opioid addiction and overdose deaths.

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services has scheduled a suite of bills designed to address the state’s ongoing heroin and prescription drug crisis. One would mandate insurance coverage for at least 90 days of inpatient addiction treatment for patients who meet certain standards. That’s in contrast to the 30 days or less most insurers allow. 

Aaron Read / RIPR

Rhode Island health officials are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to warn consumers about the danger of combining prescription painkillers with anti-anxiety medications. That combination has fueled a rising number of accidental drug overdose deaths.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Hundreds of Rhode Islanders have died from drug overdoses this year – a number that has barely budged from last year, despite numerous state and other efforts to stop it. One of Governor Raimondo’s initiatives was to convene a task force to tackle this crisis. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Health department officials have a plan to compel more doctors to use a prescription drug monitoring program. That’s one piece of the effort to fight opioid addiction and overdose.

A prescription drug monitoring program, or PDMP, is an online database. It’s supposed to help anyone who prescribes controlled substances like painkillers or anxiety medications look up a patient’s history with those drugs. The idea is to spot signs of trouble, like dangerous drug combinations, or addiction. 

Katherine Doherty / RIPR

The group tasked with developing strategies to combat drug overdoses and deaths, is set to deliver recommendations to the Governor. The panel was created earlier this year to help combat the issue of opioid overdoses and deaths in the state.

Governor Raimondo said the group will outline strategies to curb the growing trend.

Rhode Island’s health department is looking for help encouraging doctors to use a database that monitors prescription drugs. The department is adding four new positions to a new team to fight addiction and overdose.

Rhode Island received a four-year, nearly $4 million dollar grant earlier this year to fight rising rates of addiction and overdose deaths. Now the department of health is ready to put that money to use, hiring four new staffers. First, an outreach coordinator to help promote the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

There’s an epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose unfolding across Rhode Island right now, and Burrillville, a small town in the northwestern corner of the state has been particularly hard hit.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Can pharmacies play a bigger role to prevent death from drug overdose? That’s the question researchers from Rhode Island and Massachusetts hope to answer thanks to a new $1.3 million dollar federal grant from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 

The team plans to figure out how pharmacies can promote the use of a drug called naloxone (sometimes called Narcan).

Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Note: I've added a point about the Good Samaritan law, thanks to comments from readers. It's up for consideration now at the Statehouse.

A group of state and federal leaders gathered yesterday for a roundtable discussion on Rhode Island's seemingly intractable drug overdose crisis. Present for that discussion: Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), health dept. director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, behavioral health dept. director Maria Montanaro, Gov. Gina Raimondo, and head of the state police, Col. Steven O'Donnell. Reporters were invited to listen in, then ask a few questions.

Kristin / RIPR

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) has introduced legislation to make the overdose antidote drug Narcan more widely available nationwide. The legislation would make funding available to community organizations to distribute the drug and provide training.  Reed says it does not address the cost of Narcan, which has more than doubled over the past few years.

Massachusetts public health officials are looking to Rhode Island for some new ideas to combat drug overdose deaths. They're interested in a program that connects emergency room patients with addiction recovery coaches.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The price of naloxone, a drug that can reverse a drug overdose, has skyrocketed. That’s affecting efforts to prevent overdose deaths. Michelle MacKenzie runs an overdose prevention program at the Miriam Hospital. She says when her program started buying and distributing the injectable overdose rescue drug naloxone, in 2006, it cost about a dollar a vial. Today it’s $15 a vial.

“So if we had to pay $15 a vial, I mean, last year we distributed upwards of 800 kits, which is 1600 vials of naloxone. We would have been like, 200. I mean, think about that,” said MacKenzie.

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