The state health department has just published some striking data on numbers of prescription painkillers, stimulants, and other controlled substances prescribed in Rhode Island over a 10 year period.
In January 2014, according to the health department, 1.8 million doses for painkillers were filled in Rhode Island. The numbers have been on a steady incline for 10 years. Check out the red line, below.
CVS Caremark will be joining Walgreens in allowing pharmacists to dispense a life-saving antidote for drug overdoses, without a prescription. That means that soon Narcan will be much more widely available throughout the state.
Rhode Island Hospital drug abuse epidemiologist Traci Green has been working with a statewide overdose prevention task force to get Narcan – also known as naloxone—into as many hands as possible. The drug can rescue someone who has overdosed on an opioid like heroin or prescription painkiller OxyContin.
Rhode Island’s health department has started tracking the number of prescriptions written for opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin. Agency head Dr. Michael Fine says that’s because those drugs are addictive. And four out of five people who use heroin got started on prescription painkillers. In July, he says, 118,000 Rhode Islanders got prescriptions for opioid painkillers.
Local efforts to prevent drug overdose deaths could get a boost, if Congress passes new legislation to expand funding to such programs.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced a bill that would make funding available to community organizations and public health agencies to buy and distribute naloxone, or Narcan. That’s a life-saving drug that can reverse an overdose on prescription painkillers or heroin.
A reported surge in the number of children removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect is raising concern across the state. Addiction is a major cause.
Chris Dorval manages programs at an addiction treatment facility called Clinical Services of Rhode Island. Dorval says that over the past couple of years, he’s treated a growing number of clients whose children have been removed from their homes. But Dorval said he thinks there’s more to it than just the increasing number of people addicted to opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers.
From left to right: State police chief Col. Stephen O'Donnell, Governor Lincoln Chafee, Health department director Dr. Michael Fine, Dept. of Behavior Health head Craig Stenning, and the Providence Center's Jim Gillen at a press conference Thursday at the Anchor Community Recovery Center in Pawtucket, discuss a reporter's question.
State leaders have announced some new steps in the fight against prescription painkiller and heroin addiction. The news accompanies the release of the latest grim numbers of drug overdose deaths.
Rhode Island health department head Michael Fine told a standing-room-only crowd at the Anchor Community Recovery Center in Pawtucket that 85 people have died since January from suspected drug overdoses, mostly heroin. Hundreds more have overdosed but survived, he said, thanks to an antidote called Narcan, which first responders carry.
These newborns are both being treated for withdrawal from opioids in a nursery at Women & Infants. They've been swaddled tightly to help them feel safe and calm, and these "swings" rock them gently from side to side.
The rising number of Rhode Islanders struggling with an addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin has brought an increase in babies born addicted to these substances. And Women & Infants Hospital is treating a growing number of them.