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.
Two community forums are taking place over the next week to talk about preventing overdose. They couldn't come at a better time.
Overdose kills more Rhode Islanders than any other kind of accident (including traffic and guns). During the first two weeks of January, 22 Rhode Islanders died from presumed illicit drug overdoses. Another two died over the past two weekends, according to a source at the health department.
Rhode Island Hospital and the entire Lifespan network have announced new guidelines for prescribing painkillers in their emergency rooms. ER doctors are trying to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse and addiction.
State lawmakers are looking at ways to strengthen Rhode Island’s prescription drug monitoring program. They say there are too many gaps in the current system that allow people to abuse prescription drugs.
For Rhode Islanders between 15 and 44 years old, the leading cause of death is accidental drug overdose, usually involving prescription painkillers. State health leaders are calling it an epidemic. There’s growing evidence that tracking the number of pills doctors prescribe to potential abusers might ease the problem. But Rhode Island’s fledgling prescription drug monitoring program is just getting started.
Recently, I reported on Rhode Island's fledgling prescription drug monitoring program (listen to that story here). It's a program that's supposed to spot troubling trends in prescription drug misuse. And as you might know, there's plenty of trouble to spot in Rhode Island, where prescription drug overdose death rates have soared along with rates of addiction to narcotic painkillers.