opioid abuse

In April this year, Katie Herzog checked into a Boston teaching hospital for what turned out to be a nine-hour-long back surgery.

The 68-year-old consulting firm president left the hospital with a prescription for Dilaudid, an opioid used to treat severe pain, and instructions to take two pills every four hours as needed. Herzog took close to the full dose for about two weeks.

As a lifelong racket-sports fanatic, I've dealt with shoulder pain for decades, treating it with bags of frozen peas, physical therapy, cortisone shots and even experimental treatments like platelet-rich plasma. Eventually, however, the soreness prevented me from handling daily-living tasks like pulling a bottle of olive oil off the top shelf of my kitchen or reaching to the back seat of my car to grab my purse. Even low-impact activities such as swimming freestyle hurt a lot. Sleeping also got tougher. After MRI showed two full-thickness rotator-cuff tears, I finally called a surgeon.

About a month ago, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. He's spent a lot of time talking about the severity of the drug crisis. But he's spent less time outlining the specific steps he'll take to fight it. Today, a White House analysis declared that the true cost of the opioid epidemic in 2015 was more than half a trillion dollars.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NOEL KING, HOST:

President Donald Trump has declared a nationwide public health emergency for the opioid crisis.  But the immediate impact in Florida will be minimal.

The same week President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency; officials in Jacksonville are readying a lawsuit against companies who manufacture the drug.

Defeating one opioid overdose, one nasal spray at a time. That’s how the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) is going about the fight against the opioid epidemic.

Sheriff deputies in Broward have been armed with overdose reversal nasal sprays since June, but the Florida Sheriffs Association just gave BSO a big boost by shipping 1,200 units of the medication this week so more deputies are able to carry it on them every day. 

Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET

President Trump declared a public health emergency to deal with the opioid epidemic Thursday, freeing up some resources for treatment. More than 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are currently dealing with the worst drug crisis in American history," Trump said, adding, "it's just been so long in the making. Addressing it will require all of our effort."

"We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic," he said.

The state senator leading the charge on opioid abuse in Florida is leaning heavily on prescription limits in a new YouTube video.  Her measure caps most prescriptions at a three day supply.

There will be candlelight vigils on both sides of the bay tonight to remember those who lost their lives because of drugs or alcohol.

Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education, or "NOPE," is holding the events.

Florida Governor Rick Scott’s response to the state’s opioid crisis is taking shape in the House.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Sweeping Measure Addresses Prescription Pills

Oct 15, 2017

Doctors would be limited to prescribing seven days' worth of opioids for patients with acute pain and would have to check a statewide database before ordering most prescription pain medications, under a proposal filed Friday in the state House.

Substance abuse experts and law enforcement officers are calling on lawmakers to bolster access to treatment for people battling opioid addiction.  The biggest focus is on medication assisted treatments.

Florida House lawmakers are checking in on a 2016 measure meant to improve mental health and addiction treatment.

There's about 10 feet between Judge Craig Hannah's courtroom bench and the place where a defendant stands to be arraigned here in Buffalo City Court.

But for 26-year-old Caitlyn Stein, it has been a long, arduous 10 feet.

"This is your first day back! Good to see you!" Judge Hannah says as he greets her.

"Good to see you," Stein says, smiling.

"We've got to do that after picture. We did the before," Judge Hannah reminds her.

Florida Governor Rick Scott is promising to make the opioid crisis a top priority in the coming legislative session.

Peter Haden/WLRN

As an opioid epidemic tightens its grip on towns, cities, counties and states across the country, one Florida law enforcement agency is turning to tech to try to stem the tide locally and prevent the rise of heroin overdoses.

Bay County Adds First Ever Drug Recognition Expert

Aug 11, 2017

With medical marijuana legalization coming to fruition in Florida, driving under the influence may become something reaching beyond the realms of alcohol. To counter-act this measure, Bay County Sherriff’s Office has hired its first Drug Recognition Expert, or DRE. 

The city of Jacksonville is considering suing prescription drug makers for deceptive marketing.

One city councilman believes pharmaceutical companies are complicit in Northeast Florida’s opioid addiction epidemic.


An opioid overdose is an alarmingly frequent call for paramedics and firefighters in South Florida. But according to WLRN reporter Peter Haden, many of those victims came from outside the state to seek treatment for their addiction. With relapses topping 80 percent, many who arrive seeking help today can become tomorrow's overdose victim.

The state of Ohio has sued five major drug manufacturers for their role in the opioid epidemic. In the lawsuit filed Wednesday, state Attorney General Mike DeWine alleges these five companies "helped unleash a health care crisis that has had far-reaching financial, social, and deadly consequences in the State of Ohio."

Named in the suit are:

  • Purdue Pharma
  • Endo Health Solutions
  • Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and subsidiary Cephalon
  • Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office (Facebook)

Law enforcement officials are warning of a deadly new drug hitting South Florida streets called “grey death.”

A bill aimed at criminalizing the deadly drug fentanyl is heading to the Senate floor. The measure comes as the Legislature is struggling to respond to the state’s opioid crisis. But the plan has lawmakers questioning whether they should combat addiction with punishment or treatment.

The trouble started for Lisa when she took a blood pressure pill and one to control seizures, along with methadone, a drug used to help wean patients off heroin.

"I inadvertently did the methadone cocktail and I went to sleep for like 48 hours," Lisa says, rolling her eyes and coughing out a laugh. "It kicked my butt. It really kicked my butt."

Councilman Bill Gulliford wants to convene a community task force to combat the opioid epidemic in Jacksonville.

He made the announcement at a town hall Thursday night, where he said heroin and other opioid overdoes kill more than three times as many people as guns do in the city.

Aetna, one of the nation's largest insurance companies, says that starting in March it will remove what's been a key barrier for patients seeking medication to treat their opioid addiction. The change will apply to all its private insurance plans, an Aetna spokeswoman confirmed. Aetna is the third major health insurer to announce such a switch in recent months.

New information on drug overdose deaths from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows staggering increases in deaths linked to opioid abuse in Florida.

In an annual report released late last year, FDLE found deaths from drugs like heroin claimed 779 lives in Florida in 2015; an increase in more than 75 percent from the prior year.

More powerful opioids like fentanyl saw similar increases: over 900 deaths were linked to the super-potent painkiller, an increase of nearly 70 percent.

China is the source of deadly fentanyl that’s fueling an opioid overdose epidemic in South Florida and elsewhere in the United States.

That’s the finding of the new report released Wednesday by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission entitled Fentanyl: China’s Deadly Export to the United States.

A public health crisis spinning out of control.

That’s how Dr. Valarie Rao, medical examiner for Florida’s 4th District, describes North Florida's opioid epidemic. The district encompasses Duval, Clay, Nassau, Hamilton and Columbia Counties.

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